Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Version of a Wyoming Grand Slam

In baseball, hit a Grand Slam and it scores four runs... so in my version of a Wyoming Grand Slam you need to catch at least four fish: one on a nymph, a streamer, a "tiny" dry fly and depending on the river and the time of year, one on a terrestrial or a mouse. (Remember it's my game so I make the rules.) To qualify, a fish must be over 16 inches (again it's my game).
Now, I only play this game when the fishing is really good. I'll go for it when I've had enough success that I'm willing to play around a bit. If I'm having a hard time... maybe I'm only picking up one here and there, I stick with what's working. Not only do I decide the rules, I decide when the game is played!

Today, March 29, I completed 3 of the 4 legs, but I couldn't quite punch out a Grand Slam. I caught quite a few qualifying fish on yellow, conehead streamers before I switched to a nymph. Then I caught a few 20 inch browns on brassies, prince nymphs and pheasant tails plus a bunch of non-qualifying 12-14 inch trout. When I saw a few trout eating midges at the tail-out of a run, I switched to a small parachute Adams and caught a couple 18 inch 'bows. So at that point. it was game on... time to point to the center field fence and go for the home run.

Since it is March and there are obviously no hoppers about, I decided to try to fill out my Grand Slam with a mouse. I failed. I had one huge brown boil on one of Will Blair's mouse patterns, then another hit and miss a black deer hair mouse. I "moused" for at least an hour, but I failed to get hooked-up.

I didn't feel too bad about it at the end of the day. Today was a balmy 61 degrees and I caught dozens of fish... pretty damn good for March!
As an added note, here is our weather report for tomorrow:

Issued by The National Weather Service
Billings, MT

Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 3:49 PM MDT… 

Now that makes today all the much better, Grand Slam or not!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Now I Finally Know Why I Grip A Fly Rod the Way I Do!

Over the years, I have been asked many times why I grip a fly rod the way I do! With their thumbs proudly thrust forward, other anglers have often told me that my grip may be great for accurate short casts, but was not good for much more than that. The intimation was I couldn't exert much power with my grip. In case you're wondering, I extend my index finger forward along the cork handle as opposed to my thumb. I've always felt that I was perhaps doing something wrong. I thought maybe my grip was, if not downright mamby-pamby, at least a bit ungainly! But it's the way I've always done it, so I've soldiered on with my index finger pointing the way.

In my own mind, I've always thought my grip was fine. I felt my grip offered the same power, but with less effort and fatigue than the thumb-on-top grip.  But when asked about it, I always felt like something of a pariah… that my grip on life was a bit tenuous, so I'd change then subject. You know, something like "how about them Bears".

I started casting a fly rod using this grip when I was still in grade school. The two times I dislocated my thumb wrestling in high school and college certainly didn't help me to change my ways. Then in my 20's, I repeatedly reinjured my thumb playing basketball and nearly ripped it off rock climbing so I now have a condition called Gamekeeper's Thumb (skiers get this condition too from pole plants).

The upshot of all this is, for some reason, I started with my index finger on top and never saw any reason to change. I've always found it to be a perfectly fine grip (and essential for me)… but I have a bit of an inferiority complex about it. I literally know of no one else who casts the way I do... until I read this article on the Sage Blog by Joe Mahler, an ambassador at Sage Rods!! 
Now I'm feeling much more normal! Thanks Joe!
Maybe if you're struggling with your cast you might want to read Joe Mahler's article. It might really help!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Overview: Just Concluded Hosted Trip To Long Island, Bahamas

A report from Bjorn Stromsness from his blog Bonefish on the Brain on the Angling Destinations' hosted trip to Long Island. I think they had a great trip!

We were very lucky with the weather. That’s the thing that stands out the most. The week before our trip was windy, rainy and difficult. Today, the day we leave, the wind is back up, whitecaps out on the flat in front of us and lots of clouds in the sky. Our week featured almost no wind and very few clouds. Perfect bonefishing weather.
Wading the ocean side flats.
We had some good fishing and some tough fishing and some fishing in-between. Usually, there was one boat each day that did pretty well and one boat struggled. Success and humility were sprinkled pretty evenly around the group.

We did a lot of walking. We probably fished off the skiffs 10% of the time, although if you needed to fish out of the boat, they can certainly do that, so you shouldn’t let that keep you from coming down.
The group was a good one and we gelled pretty well. Everyone got to fish together and we each fished with all of the guides.
An 8 wt. is a good choice. You could go with a 7 wt. for the inside flats, but an 8 is a good all around rod for Long Island.
  • The 10 wt. got used for the cudas and jacks and that was fun.
  • I fished an 11 wt. for tarpon, which we saw, but didn’t catch. I fished for sharks and cudas and jacks with the 11 as well. It was overkill for most of the fish, but if I had connected with one of the tarpon or bigger sharks, it would have been ideal.

  • Generally, the fish on the ocean-side flats would eat bigger flies and inside flats required smaller flies and lighter presentations. The inside flats often required #8′s or blind flies and longer casts to spooky fish. Simple gotcha’s got fish and more elaborate shrimp patterns worked as well. More than anything, size and weight were the main considerations.
  • Bonefish. This is, first and foremost a bonefish destination. Fish ranged in weight from 1 pound to 7 pounds, with a few larger fish seen and cast at. Average fish was probably 3-3.5 pounds.
  • Barracuda. There are a LOT of cudas around. They are fun, violent and strong. Come prepared to fish for them.
  • Sharks. There are a lot of sharks and a couple were caught this last week.
  • Jacks. A few jacks were caught, both trolling a fly and casting a popper. Jacks are a good time and come prepared to fish for them.
  • Tarpon. There are tarpon here, but very few. You can go throw for them, but it won’t be a focus of your trip and you can skip it.
  • Permit. Very rarely people catch permit. We saw 0 in our week with three boats out every day. I’d not plan on permit.

  • The place feels like home. It is a straight forward lodge. The rooms are nice and not fancy. The cooking (by Sam) is good. The guides are competent. There isn’t a lot around, so shopping or sight-seeing is a bit limited, although if you wanted to you could drive out to Dean’s Blue Hole, Max’s Conch Shack or some of the beautiful beaches Long is famous for. We were very happy with the accommodations and staff. You will have to buy your own beer and spirits, but they’ll take you down to the store to do it. Lunches are sandwiches, you get two, and they were great.

We had a great week and it went by too quickly. Some of us will certainly come back, others will probably explore other places. I recommend Greenwich Creek Lodge to anyone who loves the technical side of bonefishing. Skinny water, beautiful setting, good people. The price is certainly right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Water Cay Lodge: It's Not Just The Fishing!

A really heart warming report from Dr. Curt Killar from his recent trip to Water Cay Lodge on Grand Bahama Island. As he said it has been "….almost two decades with AD!". Wow, time flies when you having fun! Thanks so much for the very kind comments Curt!

It's not just the fishing! ...As you get older and the needle is on the wrong side of 50, your perspective changes. The days of winning the game, the lowest score or even the biggest fish has changed to how enjoyable was the experience. With that said, we just got back from our annual fishing trip to Water Cay Lodge and had great fishing with Sidney, Ezra and Greg. This is our third year in row with them and we have never been disappointed. Thanks guys!
Example "A" the 10 lb. fish Doc Kev is holding/hugging in his arms. 

That is a BIG bone!

But this is a salute to friendship. Tony said it best, "I laugh more in one week than the rest of the year". Kev, Scott, Tl and Tony always keep things entertaining and because you're isolated on an island you must make your own entertainment. As always, we bring a baitrunner reel and a shark rod to cast off the dock at night. Telling the same stories from years past, having a bourbon with a cigar, catching lemons and blacktips at night is a blast. On Acklins, a few years ago, we landed a blacktip in the 150 lb. range off the public dock. Scott is our shark "wrangler" and is always helpful in the release (we've removed 90% of the hooks). 

This year Tony added "crabbing" to our after-fishing activities. With the help of some handy tongs, he caught close to 20 blue crabs. Besides being an important piece in the capture of Kev's fish, Kay steamed them up for us as an appetizer for our return from fishing the next day. YUM !

Tl's "fish on" tarpon night, fishing off the bridge in South Andros, the "cock fight" we were invited to in San Felipe, Kev's "Cuban" cigars in Mexico, field surgery on Tony's back to remove 4/0 cuda fly, the stories are endless because we have good friends and great places to fish thanks to Angling Destinations. I hope we have many stories to add to the list!

Can't wait for next year!

Curt Killar

….almost two decades with AD 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

OK… It's Spring, Let's Go Fishing!

My start to the day!

Today was brutal. It was predicted to be a high of 40 degrees. Balmy right? Unfortunately, this high was achieved for a total of approximately 4 seconds around 1:00 PM. The rest of the time was spent in the face-battering, guide-freezing, finger-numbing realm of what we now call a polar vortex. Previously, in Wyoming, we called it spring.

In any case, I hate that sound of an $80.00 fly line sandpapering over ice-encrusted guides... I hate not being able to tie on a fly because your fingers don't work... I hate not being able to look up because your eyes immediately tear up in 30 mph winds... I hate that achy feeling you get in your knees and hips when you try to fish in sub-freezing temperatures.  

Today, initial blue skies were replaced by snow squalls, which temporarily gave way to dead calm, which morphed into frigid winds and zero visibility. My rod's guides were usually a mess. I would look up my rod to see 8 or 9 big clumps of ice (a clump usually at each guide) that enlarged with each strip. Then the only choice was to dunk my rod into the 33 degree water until I could once again cast. I had forgotten my Pam! My Pam was in our kitchen next to the olive oil and Kosher salt. Big mistake! Without my little aerosol can of fatty spray, I struggled with icy build up… every housewife's worst nightmare. Contending with this gunky mess was a lot of work.

So a big boo-hoo to me right?  Not so fast… after initially struggling with nymphs, I switched to a yellow wooly bugger and railed on 20+ inch browns. I probably tagged 15 and landed 10 in the three hours I fished before my weather totally shut down at 3:00 PM when a snow squall did not end. We call these a blizzard in Wyoming.

How would I categorize my fishing today…. simply superb! Other than having no feeling in my extremities, my only problem was the worry of ripping leaders in half on the thin sheets of ice that lined both banks. I was always in danger of losing a hooked fish to these invisible sheets of ice. On a positive note, these 1/4 inch cleavers provided great perches to take photos of fish
Early in the day and the sky was blue, but notice the cirrus clouds rolling in!

Here is the rest of my day: