Tag Archives: featured

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Canadian Fall Fishing: Topwater Crappie Action

I’ve come to realize that crappie take top-water flies with incredible enthusiasm. Although not a “classic” fly rod target, their surface-slurping tendencies – especially in the fall – deserve your attention…

13 inch Minnewasta CrappieAlthough the spring crappie bite can be awesome, late summer and early fall can be even better.  At my latitude in southern Manitoba – just north of the U.S. border – this time period typically runs from the last week in August through the first two weeks of September.

When the weather is pleasant and settled, crappie at that time of year turn on like crazy.  I usually fish small, shallow, flatland reservoirs and the fish swarm into the same weedy bays they frequented in the spring.  They are also drawn toward turns and points on rocky shorelines.  The rip-rap along a dam is another magnet.

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The magic really starts to happen an hour or two before sunset.  The crappies often give themselves away as they swirl after baitfish and other critters.  Better yet, they eagerly suck in #8 to #12 streamers attached to a intermediate line and a 3 to 5 weight rod.  A type II line also works well, especially if the water is 5 or 6 feet deep.  Some of my “go-to” patterns are shown in the accompanying photos.

IMG_1369Occasionally, if there are sunfish around, I will use a #12 or #14 nymph.  Both crappie and sunfish will hit a small nymph but I really believe that crappie prefer something a little bit larger.

Wait a second… Didn’t the title of this article say something about top water?  Don’t worry, it’s coming…

As dusk moves in, put away the streamers and tie on a panfish-sized popper or gurgler.  Short, rhythmic strips – and the resulting surface commotion – draw the fish in.

My favorite outfit for presenting poppers and gurglers was inspired by a Sage Bluegill.  A Sage Bluegill is probably a bit heavy for most of the panfish in my area so I’ve taken a crisp action 4 weight that is 7 ½  feet long and matched it up with a 6 weight line and a light reel.  The resulting combo loads great with a short line; it is amazing at hitting little pockets in rip-rap or any other target.  Plus, an 11 inch crappie puts a good bend in it!

IMG_0639A boat or a float tube are great for working fall hot spots but walking along the rip-rap face of a dam is also effective.  Actually, as dusk turns to night – but the fishing is still lit up – walking on shore with a minimum of equipment is perhaps preferable to being in a boat or a tube.

Crappie are a great way to say good-bye to the dog days of summer and say hello to fall!

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A Look Inside: Fishwest’s Yucatan Adventure 2014

Editor’s Note: Dave Zanardelli from Pennsylvania recently returned from the 2014 Fishwest hosted trip to Tarpon Cay Lodge in San Felipe, Mexico in cooperation with Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures. Here is what he said to say about his experience:2014-08-22 14.18.55

Tarpon Cay Lodge, in cooperation with the Hotel San Felipe de Jesus, may be the perfect destination for the first time tarpon fly fisher. From my first impression upon arrival of complimentary margaritas to ease the travel fatigue, to the last impression of making a detour on the way to the airport to visit a Mayan ruin, everything is just about as good as it gets. Comfortable accommodations, excellent housekeeping, and the highest quality food make a visit here an experience that will remain a pleasant memory for a very long time.2014-08-20 17.58.36

Now, the important part…tarpon! Baby tarpon are not everywhere, but one is never out of sight of them   for very long. Every day provided multiple opportunities at fish, from singles to schools of a dozen or more that had one thing on their minds – eating! The fishing is not difficult, and the casting is not all that demanding. Never before has a guide on a tropical flat instruct me to make a short cast, at nine o’clock, at 20 feet! A raw beginner will have reasonable opportunities to boat fish. Of course, being a capable caster greatly increases the number of chances. And when a tarpon does eat your fly, good luck boating it! These guys jump, fight, jump, run, jump, and bulldog all the way to the boat. One tarpon to the boat in three hook ups seemed about average.2014-08-17 12.05.30The second most important factor in any trip – the guides. These guides are friendly, expert at what they do, enthusiastic about what they do, and top notch at providing instruction. Carlos and Chris are among the best fly fishing guides I have encountered.

2014-08-22 12.36.16For those of you who want numbers, here they are. In six days of fishing, I jumped between 40 & 45 tarpon and managed to boat 16 of them. They weighed from about 7 pounds to nearly 20, averaging at about 12 pounds.

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I will be back next year. Along with a companion too skeptical to go on this trip, but is now convinced of his error!

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Last Thing: The team here at Fishwest is proud to announce we will once again be hosting a trip to the Tarpon Cay Lodge in conjunction with Yucatan Fly Fishing in San Felipe, Mexico. Join us from August 15-22nd of 2015. Please check out the Fishwest Outfitters Travel Page for more details or call us toll free at 877.773.5437

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SharkWave: The Next Generation of Textured Lines

Last weekend I had the opportunity to try out Scientific Angler’s SharkWave Ultimate Trout fly line while fishing with a buddy. He had just purchased the line a few weeks back and had been obsessing about the line since he bought it, half way through the day I asked him if I could throw his setup and test it out for myself. I noticed a difference between the two lines on the first cast. Compared to the Rio line I have on my setup, the SharkWave felt like it just flew out of the guides, allowing me to make longer cast with less effort. Not only did I notice the difference in casting ability but also I could get longer drifts due to the line riding higher on the water. Both of these qualities should be familiar to those who have fished textured lines in the past. 

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The new SharkWave fly line incorporates the same technology as the other Scientific Anglers textured lines, a micro-textured surface to trap air for a higher ride and reduce friction through the rod guides and on the water surface. With the SharkWave line they have made improvements on an already great line designs, they have fused three different texture technologies from previous lines before into one.

The front taper is designed with the SkarkSkin texture that was introduced in 2007, as well as SA’s Dry-Tip technology. The micro-balloons in the Dry-Tip technology allows the tip to ride super high putting less drag on your leader and allowing it to float on the surface longer. The belly and running line incorporate the Mastery Textured divots for the same reason, less drag on the line, and they have added 30 inches of the TRP (Tactile Reference Point) texture to allow the caster to feel and hear the transition from the head to the running line.

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One thing I haven’t gotten use to yet and not sure if I like is the noise of the line. It is noisy and can get kind of annoying hearing your line on every cast you make. Usually when we fish all we want to hear are the sounds of nature, this is what a lot of anglers expect when we go out on the water. So does the performance override the small annoyance of the noise the line makes while moving through the guides? I believe so, eventually the angler would get use to hearing it and tune it out; you really can’t beat the performance of these lines. The SharkWave is offered in three different styles, Ultimate Trout, GPX, and Saltwater making it easy to find a line for almost any fishing situation you will encounter.

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Helping Restore America’s Waterways: Orvis/TU 1,000 Mile Campaign

As many of us know Orvis and Trout Unlimited have been working hard to restore waterways and wetlands across the country for years now. Whether it’s pushing for dam removal or new legislation protecting vital rivers and streams, restoring eroding river banks or oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. Today they have a new campaign, to reconnect 1,000 miles of river and streams by removing or rebuilding poorly constructed culverts that inhibit spawning fish to continue their journey upstream to reproduce. To find out how to do your part check out the video and visit Orvis or Trout Unlimited for more information.

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Perfecting Performance: Sage Fly Rods

Check out this video from Sage that highlights the best part about Saltwater fly fishing. In my opinion one of the greatest aspects of this type of fishing is Location, Location, Location. The fish themselves aren’t too shabby either! I mean think about it, If the fishing is terrible for the day the sunshine and the flats are hard to argue with.  Maybe I am the only one that thinks that way though. All I know is I am constantly dreaming about getting back to places like this.

Having the right tool for the job in a situation like this is absolutely critical. The Salt Rod series from Sage is the latest offering in a long line of great saltwater rods. If this rod preforms like the Sage One or the Xi3 in the field, anglers will be rejoicing all around the world.

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Glass Is Not Dead: Echo Glass Fly Rod

I finally had a chance to break-in my Echo Glass this past weekend, and found that glass is just an awesome way to catch trout. I purchased a 6’ 9” 3 weight a few weeks ago, I had taken it up to one of our local rivers as soon as I bought it to test it out and had terrible luck. I Wasn’t use to the super slow action of the rod, I kept making terrible casts and couldn’t get the hook set right, it has a completely different feel from all of my graphite rods I own, once I got home I started to second guess my purchase. I couldn’t understand what all the hype was about. I had read so many blog post and comments on fishing with glass and many of them raved about how much fun glass was.

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After that first outing I put the glass on ice for a couple weeks, it wasn’t until this past weekend I decided to fish it on a smaller creek that I had great success on the week before. Knowing that the creek had been fishing extremely well I figured this would be a good opportunity to hook into some fish. This time I was more familiar with the action of the rod, making better casts and could land flies accurately where before I was lucky not to get a tangle.

Throwing a size 10 Chernobyl Ant, I landed the fly underneath an overhanging bush; sure enough I had my first take, the first impression of the rod with a fish on was, “this is awesome, you can feel every move the fish made, every twist and turn and every head shake.” It was a larger fish and was a little concerned the rod wouldn’t have enough of a backbone to keep it out of the submerged branches or handle the force of the fight combined with the water flow. I ended up coaxing the fish around the branches and worked it into a pool where I could land it. As the day went on and hooking into more fish my attitude towards the Echo Glass change dramatically, it was such a sweet feel; it made every fight super fun, even for smallest fish and the larger ones, watch out because you were about to go for a ride.

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Once the day was over I came to the conclusion that this is not a beginner’s rod, you definitely want to be an experienced caster. This thing is a noodle, so you have to slow your cast down a lot, that being said once you have your cast dialed in you can’t ask for a more sensitive and fun rod. If you are looking for a rod to fish those smaller and more technical creeks this is it, short enough to make those tough cast under branches easier but still has enough power to make longer casts.

Pros

  • Sensitive and fun
  • Ability to land cast into difficult locations
  • Great for dry flies and emergers

Cons

  • The learning curve from graphite
  • Difficulties casting when the wind picks up
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Simple Fly Fishing 101: Tenkara Rod Setup

As some of you may notice if you frequent our website, Fishwest is now excited to bring you Tenkara rods. Better yet, we are bringing you the Simple Fly Fishing Tenkara Rod & Kit from our great friends from Patagonia.

In a very simple nutshell, Tenkara is the traditional Japanese method of fly fishing, it is ideal for mountain streams. Tenkara fishing an angler only uses a rod line and fly. That means no reel is required. 

Even though these rods are designed for smaller creeks and rivers the possibilities of what these rods can do is really endless.  I for one am quite intrigued about these rods and am excited to see them in the action. Now I just have to learn how to use one. Do any of you out there use these cool rods?

 

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Product Review: The Ross Essence FC

 Over the years I have owned and casted a number of great rods, but the 8’ 6” Ross Essence FC has always been my go-to 5 weight. The rod works well in a variety of different fishing situations and styles, from tossing small dries to chucking medium sized streamers, fishing large waters to small creeks, and used in pursuit of everything from blue gills to largemouth bass.Ross Essence shot

The FC is an exceptional beginner’s rod; priced under $200 so you won’t have to take out a loan in order to purchase it, the medium-fast action is very forgiving on those less than perfect casts and throws the line out when you do get a perfect cast with the ability to get a forty foot cast.

It loads nicely for short quick casts and very accurate for close tight presentations under bushes and around tree lines. Also it lays the fly down softly without spooking wary fish that may be around. It’s super sensitive and has a great feel when you get hook into a fish. When friends ask me why I don’t use a higher end rod, I just reply “This rod has everything I want! Sensitivity, accuracy, and power, I just love the feel of it!”Ross Essence shot1

If I was to do it all over again I would probably go with the 9 foot model, at times when the wind picks up long cast can be difficult but manageable, I believe the 9 footer would handle the wind a lot better but may make fishing small creeks more frustrating. My recommendation would be to think about what situations you would be fishing in the most and that will help narrow your focus.

Seeing The Rainbow: GEOBASS Nicaragua

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This is the latest installment of the “GEOBASS” series from the Motiv fishing crew and Costa Del Mar. This adventure takes the boys deep into the Nicaraguan jungle in search of the extremely impressive Rainbow bass. What they find is simply amazing.

I for one would do just about anything I possibly could to go on adventure like this one. I cannot imagine how fun yet taxing an adventure like this one is. I think the coolest part about this whole experience for these guys has to be the fact that no one has ever fished these waters that they are lucky enough to throw flies into. Granted they had to work extremely hard for it but still. Those boys will have stories to tell for the rest of their lives.

 

Destination Travel: Deneki Andros South Lodge

I have been lucky enough to find this wonderful sport of fly fishing and I have had the chance to check out some really neat destinations both locally, regionally, and abroad in pursuit of the ultimate fly fishing adventure. Today I want to take a moment and talk about one of my favorite places I have had a chance to go, The Andros South Lodge run by the great folks Deneki Outdoors. Andros South

Getting to the Island:

The Andros South Lodge is located on the eastern side of the Island of South Andros in the Bahamas. Getting to South Andros is a relatively easy endeavor and can be accomplished one of two ways that I have experienced.

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Andros From The Sky

The first (and my preferred method) is to take a plane into Fort Lauderdale FL and then take a charter plane from a company called Watermaker Air direct to the Congo Town International Airport on South Andros.The second (and more difficult) option entails a flight to the Capitol city of the Bahamas, Nassau.  From Nassau it is a short flight to Andros via a Western Air flight. The thing that makes this difficult especially for anglers like us coming from the west is that this results in having to spend a night in Nassau.  Accommodations in Nassau can range from staying at the luxurious Atlantis Casino to the beach front Orange Hill Inn for the evening. This is not bad however I would not recommend a Bahamian taxi ride. That was an eye opening experience for sure.

I for one would much rather take the more direct route via Fort Lauderdale and the charter flight. Customs in Congo Town are much easier than the counterparts in Nassau.  Traveling, Airports, and Security checkpoints are not my favorite things in the world therefore I would opt for the path of least resistance.IMG_0108

Lodge Accommodations:

Upon arrival at the Congotown you are greeted by the Deneki bus and Kermit the lodge bus driver.  After handing you a cold Kalik (National Beer of the Bahamas) or a bottle of water, Kermit proceeds to take you on the short journey down the one road on the island to Kemps Bay. Within 15 minutes you have arrived at the lodge.

IMG_0159I would describe the accommodations at the Andros South Lodge to be “Rustically Comfortable”. Each angler or anglers is assigned a room aptly named something fishy (Bonefish, Permit, Cuda ect). The rooms are quite comfortable, clean and simple.  The rooms consist of an extremely comfortable double bed, a dresser and a small bathroom.

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The Slack Tide Bar

One of the nicest parts of the lodge grounds has to be the “Slack Tide Bar”. This small palapa of beachfront paradise is located just steps from both the dining room and “hotel” rooms at the lodge.  Each night after fishing appetizers are served and tales of the days fishing conquests are shared before dinner. The “Slack Tide” is also stocked head to toe with just about any beverage somebody could want ranging from a great selection of beer to liquors and everything in between.  Everyone seems to convene at the bar after dinner to continue the party.IMG_0166

Meals are served twice a day (In the dining room that is). Breakfast is served starting at 6am. Breakfast usually consists of some variation of the following. Eggs served with some type of breakfast meat with Toast, Grits, or pancakes. Lunch is served on the boat while fishing and it consists of filling out a deli style menu which involves sandwiches, chips, fruit, and beverages.  Dinners at the lodge are served family style and highlight local cuisine. Meals are exceptional and may include dishes like cracked (fried) conch, grouper served with cassava root boiled in coconut milk or my personal favorite… Wait for it Lobster tails.  These meals are arguably the greatest part of the stay at the Andros Lodge apart from the fishing of course.

One more thing about the accommodations of the lodge, this is not a five star resort by any means. If you are looking for white tablecloths and something of that nature please look elsewhere.  If you want somewhere to consider home while experiencing the ultimate bonefishing adventure please look no further.

The lodge staff at Andros South is some of nicest people you will ever meet in your entire life. All of the folks are extremely friendly and treat you like you are part of the Deneki family.  From Gloria and the kitchen staff, to the self proclaimed “director of security”, Mr. Gerrard and everybody that I forgot will do everything that they can in order to make your stay awesome.

The Guides & Fishing:

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Let’s just say I saved the best for last. Any saltwater fly fisherman knows that the Bahamas is considered the arguable Mecca of Bonefishing.  I would argue that the flats around South Andros are the crown jewel of Bahamian bonefishing.  The network of flats and number of bonefish alone found within a 15 minute boat ride of the dock at deep creek is simply astronomical.  This is the perfect place for all different types of anglers from rookies to salty vets due to all the different situations and types of fishing one may experience with the Deneki guides.

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All the guides at the Andros South lodge are top notch. Bottom line is that these guys know their stuff.  These guys are some of the best guides and teachers I have ever had the opportunity to fish with hands down.  They will both challenge you as an angler but give you all the tools and instruction in order to be successful and also leave the Bahamas as a better angler. I have had a chance to fish with all of the guides except for two over the last couple of years and I have to say each one of them has there own distinct personalities. Take Freddie for example, He will sing all day from the poling platform while pointing out fish. Or Josie, who is all business, who expects the best from his anglers but will put you in prime spots to catch what he calls “bonezilla” or better yet “wife of bonezilla”.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can expect to see all sorts of fish throughout the fishing grounds near the lodge.  From shots at single and pairs of bonefish to schools of ten to twenty or even hundreds at certain places one thing is for sure. You are bound to get casts at happy bonefish. The bonefish generally range anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds with the average fish tipping the scale around 3 or 4. These fish will be seen either on flats throughout the island or while exploring an extensive network of mangrove creeks. These fish usually are found feeding or cruising in 1 to 2 feet of water and can be stalked either via poling the boat or on foot. If the bonefishing ever gets boring (which it wont) make sure you have a 10 weight or spinning rod on hand in order to throw to some rather angry barracuda or Jacks. No matter how you slice it the fishing on the island is spectacular.  Don’t fret over missed shots… You will get plenty.1618418_10152328492692845_158668094_n

I hold this place with such reverence because this is where I tasted my first success as a saltwater fly fisherman. Everything that is aforementioned makes this place amazing. The staff and guides will do all they can in order to make your stay and angling the ultimate adventure. However don’t take my word for it. Pack up an 8 weight, some mantis shrimp and gotchas and check it out for yourself.

Fishwest runs a yearly trip(s) to the Andros South Lodge. For all those who are interested you can check out the details HERE. Spots are still available for our March 2015 trips.