Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday sightfishing for large Esox

There is no doubt in my mind, sightcasting to fish is by far my preferred way of fishing.  Whether it be large trout cruising the shallows, bonefish feeding on white sands, steelhead holding in a tailout. . . there is just nothing like the challenge of presenting a fly to a fish that you have spotted.  Unlike blind casting, you (sometimes) have an opportunity to swim a fly exactly as you'd like in front of that fish.  But that doesn't make catching fish any easier.
I've often wondered if it is easier to catch fish you cannot see  than the ones you can.  The obvious disadvantage you have when seeing fish: chances are, they can see you.  I mean, why wouldn't they see you long before you spot them?  You're bigger, noisier, and clumsier than they are.  But mostly, you're the foreigner in their environment.  Yeah, I think they notice us pretty quick standing six feet tall on the water in our boats, too.
But fishing is about solving challenges, and getting a fish you can see to bite your fly is a undeniable.  It's not like we see a fish and think, "Fuck.  It probably saw me, too.  I should move on. . .".  Uh uh.  The protocol is to begin emptying your flybox in that fish's face.  I'm not talking about that fish at forty plus feet that cruises by, I'm talking about that fish suspended in two feet of water twenty feet from your feet, looking right at you and reading the registration numbers on your bow.  Here's what we sound like when we are casting:

Cast 1-3: "Come on. Eat it.  Eat it.  You know you want it.  Eat it."
Cast 4-8, second fly:  "Daaaaamn, that's a big fish!   C'mon boy, c'mon. . .  He's following!  Take it!  Take it!  Ahhhhhh fuck!!!  Come back!  God damn!!!
Casts 9-second to last cast, third fly after you may or may not have been patient enough to rest the fish a bit:  "Alright Fucker, let's do this.  Eat it.  Just FUCKIN' EAT IT ASSHOLE!"  (repeat profanity in various forms, octaves).
Cast Last cast:  You line the fish and let the fly slowly fall onto the fish's head as if hitting it in the head with fake food is going to change his mind.  He jets from his sleep, you never see him again, and you never forget it.  Until maybe the next fish you spot. . .

That's the usual scenario.  But sometimes things work out in our favor.   Sometimes, either the fish are a bit more willing, or maybe, we did something (more) right.  Sometimes we present the fly from just the right angle, or our first fly was just what they were looking for; sometimes, maybe, we were in their blind spot all along and they never saw us; or maybe once in a while, we are casting to a fish with a drinking problem, or one that lost at rock paper scissors.  I don't know.  But sometimes we catch them.  And the feeling is fantastic. 
All of the above, the cursing though the rejections (multiple large fish) for an hour, and the three fish to the boat in my final half hour before work, happened Thursday morning.  I'd like to think that it was a decision (I switched from a wire leader to 20 pound hard mono) that turned the tables.  But who knows?  In the end, the largest fish still never played the idiot more than I did.  Several nice size fish did, however, humor me, and it was a great day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday fishin non-stop!


Jeez, I've been fishing straight for five days now!  I haven't even had time to go through the pics!
Saturday: Church Slough, I think I wrote about that already. . .
Sunday: Upper Whitefish Lake with the wife and dogs, got a few casts in in the heat of the day, nothin. . .
Monday: Back to Church Slough to get my net which I discovered missing on Sunday.  I realized it must have fallen out of the boat when I landed that pike.  And yep, if you look at the photo, you can see it slipping into the water.  And it was right where I left it.  Caught two small bass and saved myself from spending another $40 on a net.
Tuesday:  Secret Pond, an amazing day on the popper.  Got some good footage of takes on the popper.
Today:  Lower T, started out slow: two small fish to the boat,



but then I found some pigs in a weedfield.  They were super cautious to my fly, which I repeatedly changed about a dozen times.  Two fell for it.  One, (of course the big one. . .) shook the hook.  He would have been the largest pike on the fly for me, maybe 14 pounds.  And then the second was this guy, about 7 pounds.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday morning

I fished one of the Flathead Sloughs this morning. Water is still a bit murky, high, and cold from the river still running so high. I thought that would make for ideal conditions, but the fishing was tough. The sun was really bright on the water, maybe that had something to do with it. But I was able to explore some of the back-backwaters, taking the boat deeper into the slough than I ever knew existed. Lots of bass scurrying away from the boat. But I surprised this guy. . .






And then this guy pounced on my fly as I was throwing the fly into empty spaces in the weedbeds.

 And then finally, another little bass in the sticks of a downed tree. . .





All in all a pretty fun morning!

First video!



Damn. Editing video is a pain in the ass! This was kinda a practice run, so be kind.
I also didn't realize how many fish I missed that day! I guess it goes to show how much fun it is to have fish attack the fly versus actually landing the fish.
Enjoy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday morning

Jesus, today was a sweet day!  All the conditions were just right, as temperatures came down yesterday, a thin cloud cover, and no wind.  The fishing was good right from the boat landing until the minute I had to leave to get to work.  No monsters were caught today, but a LOT of action, and I got it all on video.  Tonight I'll begin sorting through it and try to post a short action video this weekend. 

My weedless fly worked exceptionally.  That is, until I lost it to a fish.  Broke me off at the snap swivel!  And when I went to tie on another snap swivel, that one broke, too!  I gotta find a better brand.  But that fly floated high, always turned over correctly, and swam easily through thick vegetation.  I'll tie more tonight and try and think of a name for it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday

I fished Lower T today.  The fishing was tougher, and while I boated seven fish, none were exceptional.  I did, however, catch a small largemouth bass, and I also had two good-sized pike, together, like at the same time, check out my fly.  They also both rejected that fly.  Together, like they both agreed I was not worthy.  And that kinda hurt.
Water temps are rising, and the larger fish are most likely heading deeper.  I saw less baitfish in the shallows as well.

Last night I tied up a new prototype weedless fly.  It's taken from two concepts, the first being the KDM Rat and the second being the flies Simon Graham (of pikeflyfishingarticles.com) is tying using beads as counter balances
The KDM Rat uses a glued-on strip of lead on the belly of a deer hair pattern, causing the hook to ride up: the fly fisher's equivalent to the famous Weedless Frog lure.  Personally, I'm not a fan of adding more weight to a popper; you're gonna get a "splat!" anytime you toss poppers, but I prefer a subtle "splat!" 
Simon's flies add a monofilament loop on top of the hook, and beads are strung up on the mono.  That added weight causes the fly to flip over and ride hook up (and gives a really cool "belly" effect). 
Instead of mono, I went with clear Larvae Lace.  It's more flexible than mono, which might lead to more solid hook-ups (less cock-blocking of the hook) than a rigid piece of mono.  Who knows?  We'll find out tomorrow if it works.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday morning

It was good to see the in-laws, but it was nice to get out and fish again.  Unfortunately, the weather has changed from mild to wild-hot.  Yesterday was 96 degrees, and this morning was hot as well, although it should cool down the rest of the week.  I fished the pond this morning, hoping to catch some top water action on my videocam.  The fishing started out very slowly, but I was able to film a few strikes.  The hope is to compile enough action by season's end to make a decent video.
The Drift also shoots decent 5MP still shots.  The fisheye lens is going to take some getting used to.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday

Well, the good news is that I got my new Drift X170 action camcorder today. The bad news is that it didn't arrive until after another good day of fishing. . .
I fished the lillies today.  Secret pond is getting filthy with weed, so it was hard to keep my fly clean.  I fished poppers, ultimately ending up fishing a large, 7" Dahlberg diver in hopes of keeping smaller fish off of my fly.  I've been hooking some of these fish deep, and I'm going to have to experiment with placing the hook way up front on some of my smaller poppers.
Anyways, the fishing was decent, maybe a dozen fish to the boat, but none of the larger fish this lake has for me today.  I definitely missed a few, one that seemed to be much larger than the others.  When I wasn't sneaking flies through the pads, I was fishing the open water that is choked up with weeds growing almost to the surface.  The fish bed down in there and crash on bait swimming above.  The takes are dramatic, but they often miss the fly and more often than not, they don't come back to get it.  I still don't understand why they wouldn't search more for the prey that they so clearly wanted.  I had several fish attack the fly so fast and hard they left the water and did a dolphin-style summersault.  So fun!  Can't wait to get it on film. 
Unfortunately, that will have to wait until next week as my in-laws are still in town, so no fishing again this weekend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday and Wednesday

Yesterday was a beautiful morning on Lower T with glassy water, clouds slowly lifting off the hills, and no one on the water.  When I first arrived, I found fish crashing baitfish on the surface over the weedbeds.  I wish I had spent more time trying to figure these fish out.  Instead, I plugged the steep banks and found most of the fish holding tight in cover close to the bank.  The fishing was decent, but no fish seemed photo worthy.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the time on the water, watched some really cool takes on my fly, and brought seven fish to the boat before noon.

Today was a gorgeous day, too, although with weather threatening all morning.  I woke up at 5 am to a torrential downpour pounding on my cabin's (barely insulated) roof.  I went back to bed and remembered the article I had read the night before in the new Fly Fisherman magazing about how dangerous it is for fisherman in lightening storms.  I was up at 6:30 and on the water an hour later. 
I decided to check out Middle T today, which involves putting in on Lower T and motoring through a creek that connects the two.  As soon as I entered the outlet's bay, I thought, "This water looks fishy. . ."  Three strips into my first cast, fish on!
A heavy rain came down almost immediately after this fish but lasted only for a few minutes.  Thunder rolled in the background, and although nervous about what I read about how dangerous it is to fish in electric air, I fished on.
It took a bit longer to find my second fish, plugging the bank with a simple chartreuse/white Clouser, but when it happened, I was stoked.  The fish just materialized out of nowhere and slammed my fly hard, dove back into his downed tree, I pulled him out, and he then went deep.  For anyone who likes to plug the bank with buggers for trout, you've GOT to try this style of pike fishing!


Around the next corner, I caught this guy, and while fighting him, saw that I was coming up on the mother of all downed trees in the water.


So I creep up on the tree all ninja, make my cast tight to the bank, strip twice, and a pike materializes Star Trek transporter style.  It's fuckin spooky how they come out of nowhere sometimes.  He follows, bats the fly a couple times (for newbies to pike, DON'T set the hook with your rod, even if you see the take; STRIP STRIKE!) and then finally does the U-turn, front-of-the-fly-first slashing GULP!  So damn exciting getting to watch all of this from up high in the boat!  And just as he does that head-shaking, angry, "WTF!?!?" thing that they do just before their initial run, ANOTHER, bigger fish comes up casually beside him to check it out, seemingly asking the hooked fish, "What's the matter, Bob?".
So I land that fish. . . 
 . . .and go back for the other.  One cast, same spot, and here's that fish.
 And here's a head shot of one of the fish I took today.  Kinda looks like a turd.  You know when you're kinda sick, and sometimes your turds are this shade of green?  Yeah, you do.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New toy coming!

I've been wanting to get my hands on a videocamera for fishing/snowboarding for a while now.  I've been looking at the GoPro cameras for some time, but I think this is the one I want.  I spent the extra money on speedy delivery, and I hope to have it on the water for Thursday.  Fingers crossed, it gets here quick!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Interesting fly

This is the shit you want

The best thing about using titanium wire is it does not kink.  Steel wire will pigtail in a way that can not be fixed.  Titanium single strand doesn't. 
I use a swivel on one end that I tie my leader to, and a snap swivel on the other.  I use clinch knots to secure both swivels.  Although the knots do not pull together perfectly snug, I've yet to have these knots come undone. 
Cabela's sells this product for about $16 for 15 feet.  I use the 30#.

More pics from last week

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday

Well, I had a good day but my experimentation with cameras failed on every level. I was trying to shoot high def video with the plan to capture still shots. But I can't seem to get it to be high def on my computer. Looks like shit. So I lost the images of the seven pound pike I caught today on a last cast.
I had another great day on Pond X. I boated a dozen more fish, mostly in the three to six pound range. The last fish was a beast and fought well. All fish were taken on the surface. I might re-name this lake Popper Pond.
One thing I gotta look into is circle hooks. I've def released a few fish now that were hooked deep and bleeding... Do they even make fine wire circle hooks?
Since I lost all the footage, I've decided to upload a pic from Wednesday. Put a few filters on it cuz I've been downloading a lot of photo apps for my iPhone.
In-laws in town. No fishing this weekend...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday morning

Decided to rest the pond today and instead hit Lower T. The action was slow for the first hour, then fantastic for two hours, and slow again the last hour. With sunny skies, I was watching fish move to my fly from 15 feet away, dark shadows moving with purpose! Boated a dozen fish, this one being my largest.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday morning

This morning was ridiculous on my secret pond, with at least a dozen good wakes and six or seven fish weighing in over 3 pounds. Two of these fish scaled at close to five pounds. This pond continues to fish well with poppers even into the afternoon heat. I may have to go back again tomorrow...

Last Friday

I fished one of the Thompsons Friday night. There was a good hour right when I got there, but then it turned off from eight til dark. I can't figure out why this lake doesn't fish up to dark.