Tetons

Yellowstone – A Multi Part Series – 1 of 6

In July of 2012, I was selected to join Chris Hunt and Kirk Deeter of Trout Unlimited, Rebecca Garlock, Bruce Smithhammer, Steve Zakur, and several representatives of Simms, The National Park Service, and The Yellowstone Park Foundation in a tour of Yellowstone.  We were directly involved in removal of the invasive lake trout from Yellowstone Lake, stream study on Soda Butte Creek, and stream recovery on Specimen Creek. This is the first of a six part series recounting my adventures. This was my first trip to Yellowstone.

 There is always a slight risk involved in dreams.  So often we paint pictures in our minds about these enchanted desires, thoughts that grow, doubling each time they wander across our mind.  Then we are somehow placed in a situation in which we can actually see this dream come to pass and it feels empty, shallow, and unfulfilled.

 Thankfully, this was not the case in my dream of Yellowstone.

 My friend Steve Zakur didn’t touch down in Jackson until late in the afternoon/ early evening which gave me time to soak in the Tetons in their glory.  When his plane landed and we shook hands, the dream which I carried for so long gained life.  Go time had arrived.

 Steve has visited the park several times.  He knew what to expect.  So that evening over drinks we made a plan that in retrospect was quite ambitious.  We were going to start at the south entrance and head northeast before meandering our way around and back to the south entrance.  I had no idea just what I was in for.

The next morning Steve and I took off from Jackson on a grand tour de force of the park.  It was a complete mind blower.  Crazy as it may sound, you literally cannot look in any direction without a photo op.  This place is a photographers Valhalla.

We had not even entered Yellowstone yet, and all I kept saying was “wow”.

Steve, being a seasoned vet of the park, graciously played tour guide for me and just let me gawk at the shear majesty of the place.  It just overwhelms everything about you.  I had thought of this place for so long and had focused so much on getting ready for this trip that it just left me numb.

In the center of the park there is a road that basically is a loop.  That was to be the focus of our day as we worked around toward our final destination which was Flagg Ranch (more about them later), and our rendezvous with the other folks that would be on tour with us for the week.

But of course, Steve and I being anglers, there came a point in which we could wait no longer and fishing became the focus.  Saying fishing became the focus in Yellowstone is almost a misnomer.  There are so many places to ply the angle as they say that you literally are overwhelmed in trying to find a spot.  We settled on the Gibbon which is a smaller river that joins the Firehole to become the Madison.

It was a warm afternoon, the water was perfect for wet wading, and the little browns that call this particular body of water home were willing to at least give Steve and me a taste of just how good it could be.  We ended the afternoon with three small browns each.  Nothing worthy of the grip and grin that is almost a mandatory validation of success (to which I strongly disagree), but we felt the drug that is the tug, and that was quite enough to settle the spirit.

We finally made our way back to Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch and met those who were to be our companions for the rest of the week. (More on that next time.)

Umpqua Magnum Midge Fly Box

Product Review: Umpqua Magnum Midge Fly Box

The Umpqua Magnum Midge Fly Box is one of my new favorite fly boxes to own. Its slim design is nice so you can stuff more boxes in your pack. This box has so many slits in the foam it’s hard to fill the box up with all your small dries. This box has 2 large magnet spots to through your old flies or really small flies that you can’t pick up out of the foam.

The pros to this box is simple. Thin, see through sides,  Zerust strips, water proof, magnets, and its fly capacity.

The cons to this box is I don’t own more of them. I haven’t found any cons to this box yet, other than if I get another one I would like to buy it in other colors to tell the two apart from just looking in my pack.

I would give this box a 5 out of 5 because for a small dry fly box, or very small nymphs, and emergers. This is the box to own.

Once you own this box look into the other great Umpqua boxes they have to offer for every combination you can think of.

What it's all about!

Yucatan Baby Tarpon

Baby tarpon react to a hook like their oversized parents; they try to put as much air as possible between themselves and the water.  However, they are far more accommodating.  When fishing for adults, a great day is 5 fish jumped and 1 landed.  With babies, jumping 15 and landing 5 is definitely not out of the question.  And the babies aren’t exactly puny – 5 to 10 pounds is a common size.

I am by no means a seasoned tarpon hunter, but over the last few years I’ve managed to visit some of the Yucatan’s premier baby tarpon fisheries.  Although not definitive, my impressions might be helpful if a trip is germinating in your brain.

It should be noted that all my trips took place in July or August.  Visiting the Yucatan in the heat of summer sounds a bit twisted but it’s actually prime time for baby tarpon.

The gear for baby tarpon is simple – an 8 or 9 weight rod, a floating line, and a reel with a smooth drag.  Most baby tarpon will not take you into your backing.   Some veteran baby tarpon fishermen recommend stripping them in without putting them on the reel.  A decent fly selection would include baitfish patterns, poppers, and Seaducers – all on 1/0 or 2/0 hooks.  A very functional leader looks like this:  5 feet of 50 lb mono for a butt section, 2 feet of 25 lb mono for the tippet, and 2 feet of 40 lb fluorocarbon as a shock tippet.

Now, here’s a look at some baby tarpon destinations…

Tarpon Cay Lodge in San Felipe (Rio Lagartos)   www.yucatanflyfishing.com

San Felipe, about 100 miles west of Cancun, is a sleepy, pleasant village where walking around gives your camera a taste of real Mexico.

The baby tarpon fishing starts after a 5 minute boat ride.  It’s mostly blind casting the mangroves off points or in the rios, which are saltwater creeks.  Oftentimes, rolling fish provide targets.

Once you’ve shaken the jitters when fishing to babies, San Felipe can give you the opportunity to come unglued in front of much larger fish.  A boat ride of an hour or so will take you to a spot offshore where migratory adults up to 100 pounds hang out.  This is sight casting to rolling fish over deep water.

Isla del Sabalo at Isla Arena    www.yucatanflyfishing.com

If San Felipe is sleepy, then Isla Arena is comatose – in a good way.  Even though you are only 100 km north of Campeche, it’s like the edge of the world.

The fishing is very similar to San Felipe with the addition of sight fishing on the flats in front of the mangroves.  (N.B.  Tarpon are much easier to see than a bonefish.)  Some of the guides like to go WAY up the tiniest of creeks.  Bring a mosquito repellant and don’t forget to duck under that mangrove branch!  I found a Sage bass rod a great tool for such close quarters.

You will likely fly into Merida, which is an incredible colonial city.  It’s like being in Europe, but the tarpon are much closer.

Paradise Lodge on the Costa Maya Coast   www.tarponparadise.net

Between Chetumal Bay and Espiritu Santos Bay, Paradise Lodge has a breathtaking variety of fishing opportunity.

Baby tarpon are the backbone of this fishery; they hang out in cenote lakes, which are land-locked lagoons connected to the ocean via underground channels.  Each day starts out with a truck ride as your boat is trailered to one of these lakes.  Bring your casting arm – you’ll blind cast the mangroves like crazy.  Nevertheless, you’ll probably see enough tarpon to keep your motivation in high gear.  One of the lakes has a good population of both snook and barracuda.

During your stay at Paradise, you’ll probably drive south to sprawling Chetumal Bay to chase bonefish and permit.  I caught my only permit in Chetumal Bay.  I’d like to say I made  a 70 foot cast to a tailing fish but I actually flipped a crab pattern about 30 feet into a HUGE mud.  The permit that popped out was VERY small.  At dinner that night, I downplayed my catch and was promptly chastised by the lodge owner.  “A permit is a permit!” he insisted.

If baby tarpon are the backbone of the Paradise Lodge fishery, then Espiritu Santos Bay is the jewel.  It’s a long, pre-dawn drive to the north.  Punta Huerrero, an obscenely picturesque fishing village, guards the bay’s entrance.   Once your skiff ventures into Espiritu Santos Bay, you’re not on the edge of the world, you’ve actually gone over it!

Very few people fish Espiritu Santos. Its flats are beautiful, wild and abundant, just like its bonefish.  Chances are you’ll see permit, too.  My guide even pointed out a few wily snook underneath the mangroves.  I didn’t believe they were there until he chased them out with his push pole.

Isla Blanca by Cancun  www.yucatanflyfishing.com

Cancun, as you probably know, is fueled by thousands of beach and bar-seeking tourists.

However, 30 minutes north of the sunscreen-slathered hordes lies Isla Blanca and its tremendous variety of fishing environments – hidden lagoons, picturesque bays, mangrove tunnels, small flats, large flats.  Is your boat careening towards a solid wall of mangroves?   Relax, the guide knows exactly where the opening to the other side is. Baby tarpon, a few bonefish, and smallish permit roam all over these waters.  The permit, although small, are numerous.

If you want a break from fishing, and perhaps Cancun’s frantic pace, there are loads of guided excursions to Mayan ruins, traditional villages, and cenotes.

Isla Holbox   www.holboxtarponclub.com

Isla Holbox is comfortably touristed but in a golf-carts-on-funky-sand-streets sort of way.   It is about 60 miles northwest of Cancun; the last part of the journey is onboard a ferry.

Although Holbox is noted for big, migratory tarpon in the open ocean, the backcountry flats and channels in the lagoon behind it have excellent populations of babies.  Tired of slinging 500 grain heads on a 12 weight?  The babies chase poppers and streamers and put on a great show when connected to an 8 weight.  I found sight-fishing for the babies to be excellent.

Another attraction at Holbox is the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks.

Nichupte Lagoon (Cancun) and Campeche

These are a couple places I have yet to visit.  The former is the lagoon directly behind the Cancun hotel strip.  The latter is a colonial city.

Dragon Fly

The One that Got Away

What would fishing be without “the one that got away?” Much better! I hear you – but there’s something good about losing a nice fish, too. Actually, there are a few good things about losing the big one, right?

For starters, we know he’s still in there. Somewhere in that big bend or deep cove, that fish still swims – or at least one or two like him. We know we had him on the line, and now he’s a little smarter than before maybe, but he’s still out there. If we fish long and hard enough, we may run into him again.

Secondly, the next time we see him, he might be even larger. Not everything in fly fishing is about bigger, faster, stronger – but you can’t deny that most of us would rather catch big fish than little ones, right? If you do run into that lunker from your past again, maybe he’s put on a couple of inches or a few pounds. That’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?

Hang on a minute! Is this just going to be a list of reasons we should be happy about losing a nice fish?

Why no. This is going to be a story about losing a nice fish and why, ever since the day I lost him, I try to look on the bright side of things when it comes to “the one that got away.

I was 16 years old and sitting in a borrowed boat with my very pretty new girlfriend. We were having a wonderful day fishing and I’d already landed several small bass and a few bluegills. She was getting the hang of it, but was enjoying the sun and water more than the fishing.

I cast a #6 black wooly bugger alongside a floating dock that had some brush sticking up just off to one side. Something struck! I struck back! The fish headed for open water and I got all cocky and said “I’ve got a big one this time, baby!” The fish zigged and I zagged, he went deep and I held on. He pulled my drag – I palmed the spool. (This was before the days of affordable, quality drags in freshwater fly reels)

Then, Mr. Bigmouth jumped into the air. All roughly 9 pounds of him! Airborne. Thrashing. Shaking. Mouth as big as a basketball. I yelled out “Nooooooooo!” but it was too late.

The wooly bugger landed two feet in front of the boat with a pitiful ker-splat and it was at that moment that I heard crying. I’d let the big one get away. There was despair, anger and an immediate depression over the loss. It was the biggest bass that either of us had ever had on the fly. There was some whimpering and some kind of guttural sobbing sound. This wasn’t just the one that got away, it was a monster that got away. The whimpering continued and… I suddenly realized that it was ME! You can only begin to imagine the ridicule I faced back at school. Crying over a bass. The very idea. How stupid.

So, if you can…don’t let the one that got away worry you too much. There will be others – or maybe even that same fish, if you put in the effort to try and find him again. Try to remember that fishing isn’t always about the catching and that there’s no crying in fly fishing or bass fishing …there’s just no crying in fishing at all, OK?

At least, not when you’re bigmouth girlfriend is in the boat.

A Day To Remember

I felt it in the air the night before.  Like fish under the spell of the moon, I could feel it: tomorrow would be a great day,  one of those days when it all comes together…the steady temps of the week before, the moon, the warming late winter water and a powerful longing of fish and fisherman to hit the shallows: fish, looking for early hatches of nymphs, grass shrimp and baitfish, all drawn to algal blooms and warmth; fisherman, in hopes of hitting that convergence of perfect conditions and the desire of fish to feed ravenously.

In vivid color I could visualize perfectly stained water, the telltale sign of a resurgence of life on a lake awakened by the warmth of the late winter sun.

It was a fitful night of sleep with no need for an alarm; it was set in my soul.  Two hours before dawn I stood over a pot of fresh brewing coffee.  The aromatic wisps of steam conjured a light fog lifting in gentle swirls on the lake, back-lit by a rising sun.

A half hour drive to the lake gave plenty of time to paint mental pictures…slam-dunked strike indicators, heavily bowed rod and huge fish swirling, spinning below, trying to free themselves from my line.

At the launch, it was still dark, the water black, and no light revealing its true color or condition.  Still, I imagined it to be perfect.  I unstrapped the boat and, as always, made certain the motor would start.  I gave her a couple of swigs of gas with the primer and hit the starter…she immediately came to life. She was as anxious as I to hit the lake. I backed the boat in the water just deep enough to set it free.  It glided back into the black night, now in its favored element…she came tight against her leash.

Having to wait at least thirty minutes before safe light, I poured a cup of hot coffee from my thermos, sat on the rod box, lit up a cigar and removed my fly rod from its restraints.  As anxious as I was to fish, those few peaceful moments of pure silence were divine…the christening of a beautiful day to come.

At safe light I fired up the outboard; never cold natured, always eager to do her thing, she never lets me down.  There is something joyful and satisfying about the smell of an outboard’s smoke regurgitated through the underwater exhaust; an essence of fishing and fun.

My grandfather, in preparation for a fishing trip, would send me into his dirt-floored garage to dig red worms from an old washtub full of peat.  He kept the tub on a wooden bench, where, close by, hung an old and faded Wizard outboard.  The perfectly blended smell of peat, red worms, 2 cycle oil and gas is a memory burned deep within me, a smell I will never forget, in which one breathes fishing and life’s unforgettable days.

Slowly I made my way toward the boat road and headed to the westernmost side of the lake. As I envisioned, there were dancing swirls and wisps of fog rising from the water: the lake had indeed warmed.

The night before I decided this was the best area, heated earliest by the late winter sun.  The primary creek feeding the lake enters this westernmost cove.  The upper reaches are choked shut, impassable with young cypress and heavy aquatic vegetation that stretch a great distance, a perfect nursery for grass shrimp, crawfish and untold varieties of aquatic insects, nymphs and small bait fish.

I hoped a heavy rain, some days before, had flushed a lot of bait into a shallow flat just to the east.  The main feeder creek runs through the middle of this flat.  The edges are lined with aquatic vegetation:  gator grass, hyacinth and a spattering of coontail…a perfect combination.  With an average depth of three and a half feet and six in the channel…it is perfect for fly fishing.

If it were a little later in the year and the water a bit warmer, I would start with a popping bug. Today I fish a bugger some two feet under a strike indicator.

As I approached the western edge, I killed the motor as the remaining three hundred yards or so require a trolling motor in the shallow water with numerous stumps.  Slowly, I wound my way up the creek toward the flat, dodging stumps and cypress knees. The last two turns are marked by several large, stately, moss-draped cypress.  The trees mark the point where I pick up my rod and free the fly from its keeper.  Making the final turn, I pull four or five strips of line from the reel…the clicking of the pawl quickens my pulse, sharpens my senses.

An osprey passes overhead in what I hope is an attempt to beat me to “the spot.”  Surely he must know something: he is a professional…my intuition might just be correct.

As I round the final turn I see the flat before me…stained perfectly.  So heavy is the plankton, it is visible; clear enough for a fish to see a fly; yet stained enough to provide cover: perfect conditions…just as I imagined.

Entering the flat, I head to a small circular pocket of water some seventy-five feet or so across.  A small cypress stands guard near the mouth of a narrow channel which winds through gator grass.  It begs for a cast. A quick loading of the rod, sends a perfect cast toward the base of the tree.  A Pop’s Brown Bugger and its little pink companion, a half inch Thing-a-ma-bobber,  politely land a foot from the tree.

I hesitate to move the rig for a moment when suddenly…the pink is gone, only a telltale ripple left behind.  In disbelief, I almost hesitate too long.  I give the line a brisk strip and raise my rod, which promptly bends double, the line shoots straight to the right.

Like a kid at Christmas ripping wrapping from a gift, I strip line trying to catch up to him and catch up with time.  My mind is whirring: “Let me at least see him.”  A minute or so later I see the flashing silver and black side of what I know is a large, heavy crappie…“Damn, the fish are here, or is he just one of those loners?” You know…the ones that make you wonder, “Now, why the hell was he in here and no others?”  I bring him alongside, kneel and lip him into the boat…a beauty of a fish.

My second cast lands nearly in line with the first, but a bit longer.  Promptly the indicator begins to move slowly to the left.  I anxiously watch as it moves a half foot or so before bringing the rod up and against the fish.  He pulls hard and fights more violently.  He is pulsing and throbbing…the recognizable fight of a large bluegill.  The line zips and sings back and forth as I try to keep pace with the rod.  A short fight later, a fine heavy bluegill comes to hand.

 In Louisiana we refer to large bluegill males as bull bream…really huge males as bull-a-gators.  This fish was approaching bull-a-gator in size.

I worked the area over for a while, landing dozens of fine crappie and large bream.  By now, I know, “They’re here in numbers, they are big and they are hungry as hell!”   I am giddy!

Giving this area a rest, I anxiously move further up the flat.  The southern edge has a nicely shaped bottom…going from a foot or so deep, right next to the vegetation, to several feet deep and dropping again to six feet or so in the creek.  The fish have several distinct areas to stage and feed.  Before the day is up, I will have success in all.

I quietly approach an indention in the edge, bounded by two trees approximately six feet out and twenty or so feet apart, forming a beautiful pocket.  A long cast deep to the back is promptly rewarded…the indicator is slowly going under.  With a brisk strip set and raising the rod…all hell breaks loose.  A heavy fish is having its way with my rod. All I can do is give him some rod, feather the line…lots of line and hold on for the ride, first this way, then that.

After several minutes, I still have no control of him.  My mind is trying to unravel clues as to what he is.  There is no thumping to indicate a bream struggling on its side or the heavy, yet compliant, pull of a large crappie.  If it were a bass, he would have gone airborne by now or headed for deeper water.

My mind is once again begging, “I just want to see …just let me see what he is.”  After what seems like five minutes, but more likely two, I get a fleeting glimpse of a huge, beautifully colored chinquapin, known to some as shell crackers, lake runners or red eared sunfish.  In Louisiana, these fish get huge.  This fish is freaky big.  Catching a glimpse of me, he takes off as if he has seen the meanest creature in the world.  He takes line at will. By now, I really don’t mind if he tears loose or brakes off…I have seen him, he has given me a thrill…he has slaked my Jones.

Several times I bring him along side, only to have him keep going out the other.  Finally, I reach and lift one of the biggest chinqs I have ever seen.  I have caught big ones before…but none as thick and tall.  This fish is like reeling in a mad hub cap.

I sit there for a few moments to soak in what has happened and what is surely to come.  Picking up the sleeping cigar, I puff it back to life.  Ah…a hot cup of coffee and a few delightful draws from a good cigar are ample celebration.

Sitting there soaking up the moment, I hear a wren in a nearby bush roll out a short, beautiful song.  The last note sounds a little funny, just a tad off key…she then makes a scolding chatter, as if griping about hitting a bad note.  I can’t help but chuckle.  In this one small spot there is so much to see, so much to hear and so damn many fish to catch.

The osprey, now circling at the far western edge of the flat, suddenly folds his wings, and drops like a stone…making his first catch of the day.  He rises fifty feet or so back into the air, pauses in mid-flight, and gives a violent shudder, shaking off water droplets that cling to his chest.  I offer him up a cloud of aromatic smoke, raise the small shiny chrome cup in a salute and give him a smile.  It is a great day for us both, …a day to remember.

Sage Circa Fly Rods – Prepare To Be Impressed

We only had a short time to spend with these new rods, but from what we saw…we were very much impressed.  Our first thoughts were, “Oh great, another sloppy, slower action rod” and boy were we wrong.  With the new Konnetic technology, these are crisp, smooth, full flexing beautiful fly rods.  When we picked up the 5wt, we thought for sure that it was a 3wt because it was so light in hand and the diameter of the blank was so narrow.  We are excited to get these rods in and available to you!

Sage posted a nice article about them and an accompanying video:

If you’re a devotee of the casting nuances of the slow action fly rod, a student of its historic ties to our sport, or just like the thrill of moving in close to actively feeding fish, consider our new CIRCA rod a reward for your years of dedication.

But be warned: the CIRCA does not mimic the type of slow action that has so far defined the category – overly soft, willowy and flat. Instead, thanks to Konnetic technology’s ability to compact and align more carbon fibers into a smaller diameter blank, we were able to design a radically narrow taper throughout the length of the rod, resulting in consistently slow, yet responsive action from butt to tip. Our new CIRCA rod is a technologically advanced slow-action fly rod that honors your slower, more deliberate casting style, yet is every bit a Sage.   Read more…

Product Review : Simms Guide Waders

A Simms classic has been reborn in the form of the reintroduced Simms Guide Wader.  For anglers looking for frills and luxuries (aka front zippers, hand warmer pockets and built in retractors) these may not be your cup of tea. However what these waders lack in gadgets they make up for in pure angling function.

These waders feature a 3 layer GORE-TEX fabric from the legs down and when the temperatures drop staying warm is paramount.  My favorite feature on the Simms Guide Wader has to be the front stitched seams. In my extremely humble opinion that is huge because they do not experience as much wear as traditional seams. That is where a majority of anglers experience leaks within their waders due to constant friction from hiking and wading.  Overall these waders are an excellent value for anglers who don’t want to break the bank when looking for new waders.

Pros:

  • 3 Layer GORE-TEX fabric which makes these waders highly breathable and leaves the angler feeling comfortable and dry.
  • Built in gravel guards to provide extra protection while wading
  • Front seam construction increases longevity of waders.

Cons:

  • In my experience these waders can be quite hot as temperatures rise during the summertime.  That can be attributed to the quality materials used to keep the angler dry.

These waders have served me quite well over the year and a half I have been using them. I have heard  that it is not uncommon for an angler to get 5-10 years out of a pair of these Simms waders.  These waders are not cheap but if you fish 70+ days a year or just want to be as comfortable as possible spending that little bit extra will pay off in the long run.

Hypertension Hole

Maybe it’s just me, but I have this problem with a certain fishin’ hole that has it in for me.

It’s just a little run, no different from a thousand other little runs I’ve fished. One low-hanging tree limb complicates the cast a little, but not too much – and the fish that live there are almost always eating.

Easy, right? You’d think so! However, year after year this spot that I’ve named “Hypertension Hole” denies me a fish. I’ve been fishing, and “not catching” Hypertension Hole for almost 7 years now and it’s always the same…

 Six years ago, I first fished the little creek. I rounded a corner in the stream and there it was – the prettiest little trout house you’d ever hope to see. It had a deep enough run on the left bank, a nice big rock to hide under, and an overhanging tree that would keep less skilled anglers from casting to it effectively. It was perfect. It was beautiful. It was just waiting for a schmuck like me to get lucky and make a good cast. Or so I thought…

After catching nothing but 6 inch trout all morning, my heart rate got a little faster when I saw a good trout rise two, three, four times in row. Who knew what he might be eating? This was the South and trout normally just wait in a buffet line and gobble up whatever buggy-looking thing floats by them. I’d go with what I had tied on, a #14 Elk Hair Caddis.

I wiped the sweat out of my eyes, returned my polarized glasses to my nose, and stripped out twenty feet of fly line. The trout rose again and this time, he’d chased whatever it was he was eating five feet below him. This was an aggressive trout – the kind of trout that hits before you’re ready. The kind of trout that makes you set the hook too soon and curse loudly without looking around first to see   if anyone might be nearby. I false-cast twice and promptly put my fly into the overhanging branch.

I let the fly sit there, the line hanging over the Hole. I’d probably blown it. But then – the trout rose again, right under the line! Was this guy suicidal? Wiggling the line, the fly miraculously popped free and landed on the water, but too much in the shallow water to get the trout’s attention. If he’d hit then, with all that loose line rumpled up on the water, I’d have needed 10 foot long arms to set the hook.

Two more false casts. Easy now….that’s it! Right under the limb… the caddis imitation landed with like a feather. POW! He blasted it! I slammed home the hook! Fly line and leader and tippet and fly went whizzing right by my head and the big trout rolled on the surface and slapped his tail in defiance. I remember it like it was yesterday. Twenty more casts wouldn’t bring him back up and in fact, probably pushed him further under that rock or a quarter-mile upstream.

Each year I visit that stream at least once, and each year I sneak up on Hypertension Hole. And so far, each and every year, whatever trout is living there leaves me with a slack line and a smushed fly. But high blood pressure or not, I’d miss it if it wasn’t there. I’d miss the game if I ever won it.

Despite the frustration of Hypertension Hole, I always end up hoping that there is never a trout living there that is somehow more stupid that I am. Maybe you have a spot like that? If not, I hope someday you find one just like it. Just don’t forget to take your meds if you do.

Product Review : The Simms Guide Wading Boot

As many anglers know Simms Fishing Products makes a wide variety of high quality products. The Simms Guide Wading Boot is no exception.  As a person that has a difficult time walking as it is wading can be a challenge for me. Having a boot that can give me the optimal mix of support, traction and comfort is paramount.

The Guide Boot is an excellent boot for anglers looking for a little bit more support while wading.  The Guides utilize a full Nubuck leather upper that makes them extremely tough and durable. For me one of the most important features of this boot is the molded rubber toe cap. It provides excellent protection from rocks and all other obstacles faced while wading.

Pros:

  • Full Length EVA Midsole for added cushioning
  • Molded rubber toe cap for added protection in the toughest of wading conditions
  • Molded rubber heel cup design provides excellent ankle support
  • Felt and Vibram Streamtread Rubber Soles to meet the needs of any angler

Cons:

  • The Nubuck leather makes these boots on the heavier side weighing in at over 4lbs
  • Brass hardware utilized within the lacing system will, over time, wear out laces
  • Leather within the boot does not dry quickly. These boots will stay wet longer than other boots.

This boot has become a favorite of not only me but a majority of the staff here at Fishwest. This boot provides just the right amount of support, cushioning and traction. Overall these boots have so far withstood the test of time for this unsteady angler.

 

This submerged field was ALIVE with carp.

Carp Invading the Back Forty

When the spring is wet and prairie rivers are high, I’ll stop my car where they spill over their banks. If I’m lucky, I’ll spot some carp. Flooded fields and ditches are usually the best.

Carp can be tough to catch but the ones cruising these places seem particularly ravenous. It’s all sight fishing – either from the bank or wading. For cruising fish, I like a large, buggy nymph – dragon fly imitations work great. For tailing fish, I go with a size 8 or 10 Woolly Bugger with brass eyes. An 8 weight rod and a 9 foot bonefish leader deliver the fly and land the fish. Although a 10 pound carp will often successfully dispute the latter.

Even with reasonable water clarity, casts to tailers – with their snouts in the bottom – have to be very precise. And seeing or feeling a take can be almost impossible. I have to admit, my luck with tailers ranges from rotten to so-so.

Cruising fish, however, are much more accommodating. Lead them by a few feet, let the fly sink to their level, and then give it a few short, slow strips. Magic!

Below are a few pics taken while wading a flooded field and nearby ditch…

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…