Saturday, October 19, 2013

Brown Spawn in Full Swing


The brown spawning season is in full swing here in Wyoming. At the tailout of a small side channel, I watched today as a massive buck (23-24") attended to his busy Betty. She dug at the redd while he chased off a smaller male who was hanging in the tailspill either looking to mate or scarf up some eggs. I could have easily caught the big male with a streamer, but that would have been wrong!! 




Darker than the female, bigger and very aggressive, at one point he had the smaller male pinned in his jaws as the hen flipped on her side to kick gravel out of deposition area. I couldn't tell if they had spawned and she was covering her eggs or digging the redd itself.

In any case, it was fascinating to watch and I urge anglers to leave spawning trout to their business! 



A beautiful brown on a parachute Adams!




Monday, October 14, 2013

Back for More!

 The streamer season began on Thursday and it was great!




So good, I went back for more yesterday. Initially, it was 47 degrees, then the temperature fell as the overcast sky was swallowed by spitting rain. 
Guess what? I didn't use a streamer all day! The browns and bows were eating nymphs early and by noon, a strong baetis hatch was on. Perfect! What is better than a fall baetis day? Cold hands, cold water, bugs everywhere and big fish acting like idiots... love it!






Today, the rain has morphed into a windy and raw fall storm. The streams are, once again, high and off color. I hope they are fishable again before winter sets in. But if not, what a couple of days I had!






Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Top 5 Bonefish Flies: #3 New and Improved Mini-Puff

I wrestled with this choice!
While my top two bonefish flies (that are yet to come) might surprise you, most experienced anglers will find no surprise with my #3 choice. Initially, I couldn't decide between the Bob Clouser's venerable minnow pattern, Greg Miheve's Flats Fly and a mini-puff tied with a tan, orange or pink chenille head.
The Clouser Minnow pattern is incredibly versatile especially with some of the new fibers and eyes available. Just to be clear, a Clouser tied with a tan wing, white belly, pale pink head and copper or gold flash is a no-brainer and should be in your box (along with a few other color combinations, see photo below). 

Bob Clouser's minnow in the classic  tan/maroon/copper crystal flash version
Greg’s Miheve's Flats Fly is an excellent banded pattern that lands softly due to the split calf tail claws. See Dick Brown’s book, Bonefish Fly Patterns for tying instructions. Materials include: split calf tail, crystal flash antennae, pearl flashabou underbody, tan thread bands, clear v-rib, palmered long saddle.

Miheve's Flats Fly in tan, the banded cream/maroon is also a very good pattern!
10 lb. bone eats a cream/maroon Miheve's Flats Fly at Water Cay Bonefish Lodge

BUT, the fly I chose for my #3 best bonefish fly is the mini-puff. Nearly every bonefish lodge recommends the mini puff, nearly every fly manufacturer ties them and nearly every fly angler has some. First tied by Captain Neil Bohannon in the 70's, the puff can be a deadly pattern in skinny water especially to tailing bonefish. The soft chenille head softens the impact of the fly when it hits the water creating a minimum of disturbance. The fly is well balanced and rides just right. The mini-puff also has good contrast for maximum visibility. The grizzly hackle tips against the bunny or calf tail wing help make it very visible. Colourful, lightweight, well-balanced, hits quietly... it’s a great fly for wary tailing bonefish. Having said this, I prefer some modifications to the original pattern and without these, the traditional mini-puff (see pattern below), the one we all know, would not be in my top 5. (Also, please remember, you can vary the weight of the fly with small lead barbell eyes or even no eyes for very skinny water fish.)


Shane"s Psych Puff (top) and the original puff with an orange chenille head (bottom).
SHANE"S PSYCHO PUFF

From Shane Kohlbeck, the creator: 

"My original pattern consisted of standard chenille head, with puglisi sea fiber 'wing' with 4 strands of mottled rubberlegs. (spread evenly) I would usually wrap pearl flashabou around the hook shank as well. The updated version is a sparkle/angel hair type dubbing (aka UV DUB) head, picked-out, and arctic fox fur 'wing' with the same rubber legs. Bead-chain is used for the eyes."

Traditional MINI-PUFF:
Hook: Mustad 34007 or Gamakatsu SL11-3H or SS15 or TMC 811S size 4-8
Thread: Pre-waxed thread, 3/0 or 6/0 in appropriate color for fly i. e. white, tan, orange or pink
Body: Calf tail or bunny in white, pink orange or tan with grizzly hackle tips over few strips of pearl crystal flash
Head: Chenille in tan, orange or pink
Eyes: Bead chain eyes

The essential modifications:
I think the original pattern is too stark and has too much contrast. I prefer bonefish flies tied with softer, more irregular and "unkempt" materials (the opposite of chenille) that create a halo effect and therefore don't look so fake. Bunny did this for the gotcha. I believe all the truly effective new patterns use materials that accomplish this idea of a softer, less defined, profile. Lambs wool, bunny, synthetic dubbing bushes and fox all help to achieve this effect. 
By substituting a softer more spikey dubbing for the traditional chenille head, the original profile is retained, but the fly is much improved and made much more effective. The mini-puff was meant to land softly, but the traditional pattern doesn't do this well enough. By using a softer material for the head, a much softer landing is achieved. The dubbed head also has some inherent movement, buggy "ummmph" and with dubbing, you can blend subtle color combinations that make the fly much more attractive to bonefish. If you haven't had good luck with the chenille and calf tail puff, try a dubbed head with bunny, fox fur or dubbing brush body and I think you'll see an amazing difference.
Tan and pink puff tied with dubbed head.
Tan puff showing proper dubbed head.
S. S. Flies have blended some great dubbing combinations. When bonefish are searching the flats for small crustaceans, their mini-puff colors mimic prey species, land softly and are lifelike when retrieved. If you are interested in buying these flies, give me a call (800-211-8530) or e-mail me at scott@anglingdestinations.com 
I'll give you a code for a discount and make appropriate color and size suggestions depending on the island you are fishing.


Friday, October 4, 2013

The Expected Storm

If you read my last post Pre-storm Fishing Today, you know I went fishing on Wednesday to get in a day of fishing before a major storm hit. 
Many of the readers of this blog asked me today how the storm turned out. If you didn't receive an e-mail or a call in response, it is because we had 10-12 inches of wet heavy snow from a very early-season blizzard. The storm rolled through last night.
At dawn, we had no cell service and no internet. But that certainly wasn't the worst of it. We could not get out of our driveway because of downed trees and limbs. Unfortunately, we had two ash trees, their still green leaves laden with wet heavy ice and snow, fall across our driveway. Heartbreaking... I loved those trees!
It is still snowing at 4:00 PM but I think the worst is over. We have lots of broken tree limbs and our neighborhood looks like a bomb went off!   
I should be able to get to work tomorrow, so if you tried to reach me today, this is why I could not answer you.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pre-Storm Fishing Today!

Here is our predicted weather tomorrow: 

Winter Storm Warning for Sheridan, WY

From 12:00 PM MDT, Thu., Oct 03, 2013 until 12:00 AM MDT, Sat., Oct 05, 2013

 WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON THURSDAY TO MIDNIGHT MDT FRIDAY NIGHT...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BILLINGS HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON THURSDAY TO MIDNIGHT MDT FRIDAY NIGHT.
* SNOW ACCUMULATION... HEAVY WET SNOWFALL OF 8 TO 14 INCHES WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE BY LATE THURSDAY NIGHT.
* WINDS... NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 30 MPH.
* IMPACTS... DIFFICULT TRAVEL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED BUT THE MAIN THREAT WILL BE DOWNED POWER LINES AND TREE DAMAGE DUE TO THE HEAVY WET SNOW. POWER OUTAGES ARE LIKELY. COLD AND WET CONDITIONS WILL BE HAZARDOUS FOR UNPREPARED HUNTERS.

I knew a storm was on its way. So this morning, while I was on my way back from Buffalo, WY (where I was looking at a new ranch), I decided to fish:


I wasn't expecting much!
On Sunday (the last day I had fished), our streams were high and off-color due to heavy rains the week before. As a result, I did not catch a single fish. Hell, I didn't have a single take. I was truly and classically skunked. Today would be different!

Under long mares' tails (these cirrus clouds almost always indicate deteriorating weather conditions) and with 60 degrees temps, I had a simply spectacular day. I ended up in double digits with fish over 18 inches. I probably landed 20 fish over 14 inches and hooked, but did not land, another half dozen. Every big fish (over 20") had a cool story.



Here are four of these stories:

This big boy ate my hopper THREE times. He actually was pricked on the second take and still took the hopper when presented again. Please notice the healed hole just in front of his dorsal fin. There was another one just like it on his other side. No doubt the wound was from a bird of prey's talon, probably an osprey. He was tucked in the shadows right next to the bank... probably as a result of this bad childhood memory.





 As a side note, big brown trout have sharp teeth:



This fish below, unlike the brown above, was oblivious to any danger. She was cruising around in a big slick eating midges. She was certainly NOT sipping these tiny bugs! Her whole head, up to her pink cheek plate, would come out of the water when she ate. Why, so far out of the water? I have no clue. But it was very cool to watch and made her look huge. She was 20 inches, but when eating the midges, she looked 25. 



Th big hen 'bow below ate my dropper the moment it hit the water. Literally, the moment it hit the water! She ate a prince nymph like it was a dry fly! She was evidently very hungry.




The big hook-jawed male below went through a brush pile to take my fly. Between two Russian olive trees (first photo), I first saw his tail. I cast to the spot getting a good drift right next to the bank. I saw the willows move violently above the brush and then saw my fly disappear. It was all I could do to not strike when I saw the willows move. I was lucky! 




As I post this, it is starting to rain outside .
Tomorrow, it will snow, but today was great!