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Monday, November 30, 2009

Tying Flies - A Serious Sickness




A fly angler reaches a point in their life where they need to tie his or her own flies for a great number of reasons. It certainly is not about saving money, because once the addiction or "sickness" sets in you find yourself with so many different materials and hooks that it all adds up to some coin. Sure, one can simply do it by only tying a few different patterns, but again your brain starts buzzing with ideas for new patterns or copying that "hot" fly your buddy had when he kicked your ass at Lake Davis last spring. Many tying junkies simply do it to show the fish what they interpret in their own mind what an artificial should look like. With feathers, fur, foam, and other natural and synthetic materials we try to copy the great creators own creations, and fooling our finned friends into thinking it's the real thing. For myself it is an art that I find so fascinating that it consumes my every thought while living and breathing on this big blue marble. I am sick. So sick that when I get a package in the mail I look at the packaging materials and think what pattern I could use this for instead of the merchandise itself. Sicko!

As winter draws in and the sun arcs lower in the sky, I find myself energized by the light of the tying vice. This is the time to tie. I love nothing more than cranking out patterns and looking out the window as the clouds release huge amounts of swirling snow bouncing of my bedroom window. It is during these times I think about next years trips and the flies that will join me on those adventures. Then the fever follows you on those adventures as you must tie "on site" to be exact with that days hatch, and it never ends. The whole realm of tying is like slow dancing with my sweetheart, it moves me....and I never want it to end. H1N1 has got nothing on this sickness. It can last a lifetime with no cure in sight, and that's just fine with me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tying The Blue Wing Olive Cripple

Legendary fly inovator Bob Quigley came up with the Mayfly cripple to imitate a struggling mayfly trying to escape it's nymphal shuck and getting stuck. This also happens when mayflies hatch and get fried in the hot sun thus being "still born", as often seen on Hat Creek in the summer months. Selective and wise trout seek out these crippled mayflies as they are an easy meal. I have had great results with this fly but be warned, the fish take this fly with such confidence that they take it deep! A barbless hook is a must when using it. One fine Autumn day on the McCloud River a few years ago a nice BWO hatch was happening in a tail out of a large pool. There were a large number of rising trout and of course they were being picky. I put on a cripple and that solved the problem, but the fish were taking it so deep I felt guilty as I may end up killing such a beautiful creature. I put the dun back on and settled for a few more fish before the hatch waned in the orange haze of the afternoon light.

I tie my cripple using other materials than Mr. Quigley does, It's just my own way of doing things. For the thorax I use closed cell foam to keep the head up, and the forward wing is of antron to better cast the reflection of light. This fly can be tied in various sizes and colors depending on what species is hatching.

RECIPE:
-Tiemco 101 size 16.
-8/0 Uni thread in camel.
-Tail; webby fibers of a brown schlappen hackle.
-Body; dubbed webby fibers of a brown schlappen hackle.
-Ribbing; fine gold wire.
-Thorax; closed cell foam.
-Hackle; grizzly or cree.
-Wing; Antron.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How To Smoke Trout


Fall is my favorite time of year as fishing for trout in lakes is red hot! I’m a catch and release guy most of the time, but now is the time to keep a few fish from stocked lakes and fire up the smoker. I just finished up a smoke out yesterday and thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on just how to smoke trout.

Right after you land your fish, gut the gills and bleed them out, keep em cool in an ice chest until you get home. Now gut the fish, clean, and rinse in cold water. There are many ways to smoke the fish, whole, chunks, or fillets – I prefer fillets. Once your fish is prepped it’s time to soak them in the brine. My recipe for brine:

-64 ounces of water.
-Half cup salt.
-Half cup brown sugar.
-3 tablespoons of red raspberry jam.
-3 tablespoons of crushed garlic.
-3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.

Mix ingredients well in a glass, stainless, or crockery container (not aluminum!). Immerse fish. Chunks and fillets let soak for 4-7 hours, whole fish 8-12 hours in the refrigerator. After soaking rinse the fish with cold water, for more flavor do not rinse. Pat dry and let sit for 1 hour. You will notice a tacky glaze on the surface of the fish, this is called the “pellicle”. Your fish is now ready for the smoker. Smokers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. I own a “Big Chief” smoker and it has never let me down. Pre heat you smoker and add your smoking chips. I use three pans of chips on the hour, alternating alder and apple. Check the meat periodically for the degree of doneness you desire. Your fish should be nicely colored, and flaky to the touch. Now, enjoy the reward! You will want to smoke a number of fish at the same time as they are so delicious, and they don’t last long!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fishing Report - Lake Davis




My good friend Feather River Sam and I fished the lake today, not a puff of wind in the morning, but very cold. As I backed the boat down the ramp I began sliding due to the thin layer of ice that formed from other boats being launched. I kept my cool and managed to get the boat in safely - Whew! We headed up to the north end of the lake and anchored of slaughter house point. There were many fishing rising around us, but they appeared to be on the small side. We fished both floating and sinking lines using olive and brown wiggle tails. We hooked 4 fish but they were very small. We moved down to Jenkins to find bigger fish, which we did! The wind came up big though with huge gust and white caps that had us finding shelter at Jon's cove. We hooked into another 11 fish from 17-21", I kept four rainbows for the smoker. Water temps were right around 50 degrees. Stomach contents showed midges and crayfish. For November it was a nice, warm day - even the wind was warm - Go figure. The lakes in great shape and with no snow on the ground it should be fishable for a while.

Fishing Report - Middle Fork Feather River


I ventured below Camp Laymans to fish the MFFR for the last time of the season last Monday. It was a beautiful sunny day with the fall colors in full effect. The water levels were up for this time of year due to a few storms that have rolled through in the past month, and water temps were cold at 50 degrees. The wild trout of the MFFR prefer temps from 58-62 degrees, and with the cold water temps there were no risers to be found. A small BWO hatch was coming off, no big numbers but enough to put on a #16 emerger. I high sticked fishy looking holding water and did well as I C&R 12 fish 12"-16". It was strange though, no small fish. The fish were not as hot due to the cold water temps, sluggish at best. Besides the BWO's there were a few different caddis out from size 12- 16, laying eggs and fluttering about. No Oct. Caddis were out as well and that was a bummer, this river used to have a huge hatch until the flood of the late nineties flushed them away. It was a great day to close out the MFFR, not another angler to be seen, plenty of eye candy, and a bent rod here and there.

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