Sunday, February 19, 2012

February in the Flatland

Sometimes the events of a fishing trip need time to settle or be digested. I need time to take in all that was witnessed. During the trip, I am so focused that my short term memory goes into hibernation and my long term memory is used as backup where the details will be visited later. The short days of winter seem to speed up time and before I know it, the setting sun is there to remind me that I must go home.
Today was one of those days winter days where you work to find fish. It is the period of the year in which I hope for more fish, but I am happy to catch a few. I have the child like anticipation of the spring hatches that still seem so far away coupled with the excitement of curing the cabin fever that makes me mope around my house. It is a different time of the year to fish; a time where even the landscape seems lonely.
The day started with two tactics: I would “chuck and duck” a large streamer on sinking line and Mike would go low and slow with a nymph. The water was beautiful with quite a bit of current. I quickly remembered why I do not enjoy casting sinking line in tight quarters. It was not pretty, nor was it all that productive.  I was able to raise one good fish, but I was not able to get a good hook set and my dreams of raising a leviathan from the depths had quickly died.
After a change of fly rods, Mike and I searched for slower waters and some familiar fish. We discussed the hatches of the spring. We hoped to find a few fish sipping on the many midges that were out and about. We spoke of hendricksons, sulphers and march browns. We whined about the cold water that had found the holes in our waders. We planned a few road trips to fishy destinations. It was a productive ride.
We were soon at destination and searching for fish. I had shed the cumbersome sinking line for my much lighter and delicate three weight while Mike continued to cast his small rod. We filmed and worked the familiar spots searching for a willing trout. It took too long to find them, but we managed enough to satisfy ourselves until the next trip. It was a good day that ended much too early.  It was a day that included a mink, a giant owl, a groundhog, a few small browns, and the fellowship fine friend. It was a day of cold fingers and wet feet. It was a day to be thankful for the trout waters of this flatland.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Little Fly Tying Philosophy

     I was asked the other day if I was an innovative fly tyer. I was not sure how to answer that question. I was then asked if I had designed any specific patterns that were unique to the areas that I fish. Again, I had no answer. After thinking about it, I replied by describing myself as a lazy fly tyer; a procrastinator. I tie when I am in the mood or when I have to get ready for a trip. I am more of a “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” fly tyer.
     I have never been accused of being a fantastic fly tyer. When I first started tying almost twenty years ago, I tied all kinds of crazy flies. I had boxes filled with flies of all sorts of sizes, colors and shapes. I thought I needed to cover every possibility in my preparation for a fishing trip. And yet, I never seemed to have the one fly that perfectly matched what was hatching. I would run home after each trip and tie what I saw hatching. I wanted to discover and tie the next “classic pattern.” I was a mess.
     In my quest for the perfect fly, I was constantly tying new flies and variations of classic patterns in search of that irresistible fly that would catch fish on every occasion. It was my friend Larry that finally settled my tying nerves. We fished together constantly. As I rifled through my boxes in search of “that” bug, he patiently continued to cast an elk hair caddis. While he fished with one fly all day-and caught fish, I went through fifty yards of tippet in search of the perfect imitation.
     It was on one of our many trips that I finally gave up and just tied on a parachute Adams. I had had enough of the searching and retying. I was sick of trying to see my microscopic offerings as they meandered by. I was sick of watching fish rise around me and not being able to find the answers in my box of flies. I was going to fish with this fly and fail or not fish at all. That successful afternoon led to an epiphany that would completely change my attitude about flies and fly tying.
     Through much trial and error- okay, more error than trials- I have settled with six go to flies that take up space in my box. They will cover any and every situation that I have encountered. I trust these flies and I have faith that they will work. They are my confidence flies and if I present them correctly they will catch fish. More importantly, most of them are easy to tie! These proven patterns are no secret. They range from fur ants to elk hair caddis, from the copper john to the trusty parachute Adams. They have and continue to fill the boxes of many successful fly fishers. There is no need for me to reinvent the wheel.
     I will admit that I have tweaked a recipe now and then and that I have even simplified some of these flies to suit my own needs. However, I will never be accused of being innovative. I tie flies to catch fish. Sure, it is more rewarding to catch fish on flies you tie, but I have never been nor will I ever be one to spend mass amounts of money and time on the bench. Don’t get me wrong, I truly admire those that continue to create magnificent patterns. I marvel at the beauty and efficiency of their creations. I am jealous of their skills and tools. They are artist. Me? I am merely a fisherman. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Clear Creek and A New Friend

The internet can be a peculiar place. You never know who you are going to meet. I have made a few friends because of the internet and lost a few as well. Today, I made a friend. In November, I posted a link to my blog on a fishing website. One of the guys that responded to this thread was a gentleman named Bruce. Bruce was impressed with the fact that we had caught a few fish on Clear Creek. I sent him a private message and told him that I would be more than happy to meet him there and show him a few spots that have always produced fish for me.
Friday, Bruce sent me another message telling me he would be fishing Clear Creek. He  wanted to know if I was free. Mike and I had planned to fish and we soon made plans to meet Bruce at the park. Unfortunately, Mike was having some car trouble and I was off to fish on my own. My wife was convinced that Bruce was an axe murderer and told me to be careful.
I arrived at the park and found Bruce in the parking lot. He looked like a pleasant man and I did not see an axe in his vehicle- so good, so far. We quickly introduced ourselves and were off in search of trout. He told me where he had fished and I promised to show him a few spots that he had not fished. We were soon parked and headed to one of my favorite holes.  Bruce told me he had fished this whole and warned me of his clumsiness and his casting.
We casted and chatted our way through the run until I finally found a willing fish.  However, it was only one fish and the footprints along the bank let us both know that we were not the only people to fish this stretch today. It was time for a move.
We made our way back to the car and were soon on the road to some water that Bruce had never seen. I told him that this was the prettiest spot in the park and he agreed. We walked our way up as far as we could and began our descent through some pretty fishy looking water.  It did not take long to find fish in this stretch. I quickly hooked up with two on consecutive casts and soon had Bruce fishing the same seam searching for his first fish of the day. He missed a couple before finally settling his hook into a healthy brown. His excitement put a smile on my face. I was satisfied and happy for his success.
We worked our way back to the car. I lost a few more and Bruce hooked up with another pretty brown. Evening had come without warning and our day was soon over.  It was a great day. The weather was gorgeous, the trout were cooperative and I made a new friend. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Older Footage

Fly Fishing from Wildlife Matters on Vimeo.

As we seem to be well on our way to another year of record rainfall, I am left to write about fishing rather than get out and experience fishing. In the past few days, we received another inch and a half of rain to an already soaked landscape. The rivers are all at flood stage and it will be several days into the future before we are able to fish once more. For now, I will reminisce.
While searching the Vimeo website the other day for ideas and interesting video, I found a picture of myself on one of the videos. I had completely forgotten about some footage we filmed several years ago.  I was a bit surprised. Mike was then working for the Department of Natural Resources. He was helping to film and produce their Wild Ohio television show. He asked me if I would be interested in filming an episode that highlighted some of the fly fishing opportunities here in Ohio. I was more than happy to help and we set out for the Mad River.
We had a pretty good afternoon of fishing, but much of it was missed on the video due to a few overhanging clouds and some thunder. Once it cleared, we set out to capture enough video to create a short segment for the show. We thought we had some great footage and Mike proved his skills with the editing of that episode. However, the best fishing happened after we shut the camera down. There was not enough light that evening to film the fishing that we experienced, but it was a fantastic night.
On this short segment, I am interviewed. Please excuse some of my answers. I think I mention a “thousands of dollars” fifteen different times. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Southern Culture On the Fly

Sometimes I find different websites or blogs that I cannot wait to share with my fishing buddies. This week, I found another one of those sites. I follow a blog dedicated to the fiberglass fly rod.( I will address them in a future post) They do a great job of sharing different products and websites with their followers. This week they mentioned Southern Culture On the Fly. This online magazine chronicles the fly fishing opportunities and destinations from the southeastern region of the United States. Along with some fantastic photography, there is some exciting video and some very well written articles. If you love to fly fish as much as we do here, I would suggest signing up for your free subscription. It is well worth your time.
Check out their latest issue here:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pretty Cool!

Mike sent me a text today reminding me to watch for the Orvis Friday Film Festival. Orvis is one of the oldest and most widely known fly fishing companies in the world. Their name is synonymous with fly fishing. The company maintains several blogs, and their fly fishing blog is one of our favorites. Each Friday, they post interesting fly fishing videos from around the World Wide Web. This week, they found our latest video and decided it was worth sharing. Pretty cool!
I was elated when I opened the site and found that they had posted our video. It is quite an honor for us to be recognized on this site. Again, I need to thank Mike for all of his hard work and talents. He does an amazing job with these short clips and he is my favorite fishing friend. However, it is tough to think that the whole world will now have the chance to watch me tangle with a tree. Oh well, it isn’t my first dance with a tree and it certainly won’t be my last.
If you enjoy fly fishing, I would encourage you to subscribe to the Orvis blog. Mike and I always look forward to the Friday Film Festival. There is some truly awesome footage out there.
You can check it out here:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Clear Creek in the Snow

     Sunday the skies were bright and sunny. The thermometer rose from ten degrees to a balmy thirty. The sun felt warm. I hesitated to fish and hunted instead. Today, the weather was supposed to warm to the upper forties. A front was moving through bringing moisture from the South. Today we would fish! It was the coldest forty degree day I have fished in a long time!
     Neither of us had much time so we opted for Clear Creek. It is close to home, the scenery is pretty and we can always find a few willing fish. We parked at one of our favorite spots and fished a good stretch of the river. There was still plenty of snow in the valley and the water was quite chilly and very clear. The rain had begun to fall and my hands and toes were instantly aware of the fact that they were no longer in a heated environment.

     Mike and I tried different tactics in an attempt to find some sort of pattern. I dragged an ugly nymph through the promising pools and riffles while Mike bounced a bugger of the rocky bottom. He was the first to hook up and landed an energetic eight inch fish that came with a smile and the pride of getting on the board first. I soon switched to a bugger and lost a fish that followed almost to my feet. This would be a recurring pattern.
     We slowly worked our way down stream casting to all the promising water while losing the feeling in both our hands and toes.  We had several follows and both managed to miss a few fish. Finally, after losing my fly to a fish, I decided to go back to dredging a nymph. On my next two casts, I managed to land two small browns and rid myself of the skunk like smell that was beginning to fester. I would have never heard the end of that!
We ended just as darkness was ready to set in and walked gingerly on our frozen feet back to the car. It was a struggle to get out of our waders while working with such cold fingers. The car gave us the welcomed warmth that our fingers and toes had been craving. It was a pleasant ride home after the pain of my thawing hands finally subsided.
I forgot my camera. The stills here were extracted from the video footage. We filmed quite a bit as well, but we only took the GoPro today because of the cold and rain. It will be a few days before Mike has time to edit the footage, but I am not sure he has enough for another short video.