Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PNW Trip Report

As  Southerner, I naively assumed that the weather in the Pacific Northwest would be at least a bit more pleasant than Arkansas in July.  Boy was I wrong.  First, let me say that this was not exactly a fishing trip- but, of course, some fishing was done.  Everything worked out to put us there in between every big run and during one of the worst heat waves/droughts in years.  Still had a blast.  I packed a couple fly rods and a bunch of what I thought might be applicable flies.

The first outing was to the Upper Klamath in Northern California.  A family friend named Mike (heck of a guy) offered to take me out on a couple trips despite the 100+ degree weather.  Mike is a retired school teacher and a great fly-tier and fisherman.  I met him for the first time at 5 am outside the house we were staying in.  We were immediately buddies.  In my experience, all rabid fishermen are immediately buddies.

The Upper Klamath is a beautiful river and I could tell it was one of Mike's favorite spots.  Unfortunately, it was about 101 degrees and the river was low and warm.  We tried every trick in the book and did have a few good hits.  Mike caught a nice rainbow right off the bat.  I hooked a few fish deep but did not get any to the net.  After we took a break to rehydrate and eat a sandwich, we took Mike's canoe on the lower part of the river where it runs into a small lake.  I saw a few really nice bows and tried to get something going on small streamers but all I caught were these little dudes:
 On the bright side, I don't think I had ever caught a yellow perch before- so I got that going for me... which is nice.

That part of the state is just loaded with black tail deer.  Saw a bunch on that trip.
This one was cooling off in the lake and watching us struggle for bites.

The next day, Mike took my father-in-law and I to the McCloud River- home of the famous McCloud rainbow strain.  This river is straight out of Jurassic Park.  I was blown away by how pretty it was.  

It was a bit of a hike to get down to the river.
Caught quite a few fish.  Nothing huge but they were feisty wild rainbows.  I do not think I actually caught a true McCloud rainbow- the river has several strains I believe.
This rainbow was about as big as any of the fish I caught that day.
River also held some spunky mini-browns.  One lady told me she landed a 19 inch brown in the same pool that this one came out of.
This pool was incredible- with a waterfall at the top and a huge boulder on the right.  I wish I had taken a better picture. Mike pulled a great fish out of this pool.
 Also snagged this pretty little brook trout.

More hiking and some crazy views.

Mike and my father in law after some trout-whoopin. ^

We did some non-fishing stuff and then visited another part of Northern California.  My new fishing buddy, Jeff, took me to some of his favorite mountain streams for some awesome dry-fly fishing for tiny (but really pretty) trout.

This creek was clearly some black bear's turf.

Bear signs and scat wear everywhere.  I was really hoping to see one.

  This creek was almost out of water- but each and every pool had at least one little jewel of a trout and they were more than willing to take a lime trude.

The next leg of the trip was to the Oregon Coast.  Wow- talk about some beautiful country.  This part of the trip was not the best for fly-fishing (well, not when you are in-between runs)- but I did give it a try.  

We stayed a few days in Yachats, OR- which is a really cool little town.  I tried to fish the Yachats River.  Well, I did fish the Yachats River, but it was sort of a misadventure.  I borrowed a car and drove up about two miles (first mistake).  I then fished my way down to the ocean.  I caught a few little wild bows and saw a ton of what I can only guess was elk scat/sign.  After I got to the end of the river, I wanted to get out ASAP to start the hike back to the car.  Well, I bushwacked my way through a whole bunch of tall grass and got hung up in some blackberry bushes.  That is when the bees came.  I suppose they were yellow jackets- but either way, they stung the crap out of me and I tore off through the brambles like a drunk yeti.  In the process I lost my camera with all of these pictures on it. Obviously, the camera was recovered.  Luckily, my wife's uncle has an uncanny knack for finding things and no fear of bees.  He snooped through the neck-high grass and insanely painful blackberries and- boom- had my camera back.  Thanks Kev.     

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Norfork River TR

Low water, rental cabin and eight college buddies- how can you go wrong?  Did I mention I hauled my 36 year old boat on the three hour drive up windy mountain roads?  Anyway, we started out Friday night with blown out water conditions from heavy rain the week before.  The Norfork looked like chocolate milk and the White looked like pure mud.  This was no big deal as we all settled in to the cabin, set up a little fly tying convention and cracked a few frosty beverages.  The next day we all woke up late with the Norfork just feet away- still pretty murky but promising.  I believe I was the second guy out the door (one of my buddy's made a killer breakfast).  The water color was still way off but we were into fish almost immediately.  The fly of the day turned out to be the old San Juan worm or a variation thereof.

Hilariously, these dries (mostly size 20s) were the only flies I tied in preparation for this trip.  Ya- there was pretty much no dry fly action that weekend- although we did try.

It turned out to be more of a streamer weekend.  Black was the hot ticket for me.  I think my best fly was one of these:

Fished it on a sink tip in all of the riffles and tail-outs.  Other hot flies were dark San Juans, various eggs and I think a few fish were caught on black zebra midges.

We caught a good number of solid browns in the 14-17 inch range- nothing huge but pretty fish nonetheless.  PS- I rarely count or measure fish so take all length and number estimates and subtract about 2 inches or 2 fish.

I believe all the browns I hooked came on smallish black streamers and buggers.

Cheesing it up with a pretty good brown. Shoutout to Umpqua for the trusty fishing hat and to Rising Tools for those incredible hemos.

So me and my buddy John took my boat out up by the Quarry Park.  Here he is holding a fat bow in a fashion that is eerily similar to the way one holds a sawed off shotgun. We caught some really fat rainbows.

The boat turned out to be a problem.  Well, more specifically, the trailer and its bearings turned out to be a problem.  After we were done with our boat trip, John held the boat while I went to back the trailer down.  I have gotten in the habit of giving the trailer a quick walk-around whenever the boat is not on it.  Welp, this time I noticed that one of my wheels was a bit askew, a tad "caddywompus" as some like to say... 

I also noticed that there was grease everywhere and on everything- the inside of the wheel, the fender, all over one side of the boat... like the scene of a robot-on-robot murder.  Just as I began to rock the wheel back and forth (which you shouldn't be able to do btw), a rough looking gentleman casually informed me that the bearings were shot.  Thanks bud.  He did not offer to help.  We limped back to camp where I discovered that the inside of my right wheel hub was full of shrapnel.

Long story short, Norfork is about 20 minutes away from Mountain Home.  Mountain Home is the nearest place with anything resembling a store.  I made one trip to Wally World at about 6 am... apparently trailer bearing come in different sizes, though the Waltons saw fit to stock only a single size.  After reassembling the hub and greasing the new bearings... I realized my mistake.  Back to Mountain Home- this time to O-o-o-o-O'Reilly's.  An amazing store employee measured my bearing with calipers and hooked us up with a new set.  We booked it back down to the cabin and somehow all got back home.  Woof.  Really good trip though.  Next time I might do a little double checking before a road trip like that with an old trailer.  Lesson learned. 

The offending wheel, pre-destruction.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Quick Norfork River Fishing Report

I have not had a ton of time to fish lately but I did get to stop by the Norfork on my way back from a work thing on Wednesday.  In case you don't remember or are in a different area- last Wednesday was beautiful.  Turned out to be a fantastic couple of hours.

It took me about half an hour to figure out what the fish were snacking on.  I started out with a pair of midges and landed a few fish.  Switched to an egg pattern and started really picking some up.  Nothing big- just fat, spunky rainbows- did see a few large fish, though I managed to spook all of them.  At some point, I noticed a decent mayfly hatch coming off.  When the wind died down, the fish would really get after it on top- so I switched to a dry fly and caught several.  I absolutely love catching a trout on a dry.

This one (and most of the others) took the egg.

All in all I probably landed somewhere close to 20 fish.  I even got a sunburn.  Not bad for a late January (work) day in the Ozarks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Last Few Little Red Trips

Wow, fall went by fast.  I looked out this morning and there was snow on the ground.  As a Southern boy, I hate the cold.  I'll still fish in it- don't get me wrong, but I hate it.  Gloves, hats, jackets... the worst.  Give me a pair of Chacos and a 90 degree day.  Anyway, the few Fall weekends I got out on were a blast.  The Shawnee trout-boat I recently fixed up has been doing surprisingly well.  It is tough to take the little 9.9 prop through some of the shoals but you can always get out and drag if the water is down.

The browns have definitely started their spawning run- but just barely.  On my last trip this last weekend we saw at least ten good browns bolting away from the boat as we went over the shoals.  I have yet to actually hook any of these large browns mind you- I had to settle for little guys like this one.

Most of the first we have been landing are chunky rainbows like the one above- most of them from 13" to 16" with a few bigger ones mixed in.  The go to fly has been an egg pattern or a midge.  This time of year its almost too tempting to use an egg pattern- feels a bit like cheating.

Took my old man out a few times.  He has really been enjoying getting to see some of the Little Red that is not very accessible without a boat.  He is also not extremely confident in the stability of my boat- hence the sitting.

So far, this has been my best Little Red brown trout out of my boat- actually got it on our first trip.  Caught this one on an articulated streamer in a deep pool.  Good ol' butter-belly.

Me and the wife did a little wading the week I was painting my boat's hull.  We did pretty well up by the dam- though my wife will only fish if she can use my Z-Axis (which happens to be my favorite rod).  Sometimes you gotta make sacrifices.

A decent brown.

I also just invested in a Sage boat bag.  I really need to do an entire review for it, but for now I'll just say that I am really enjoying it.  It makes fishing out of a boat that much more convenient and keeps all my gear dry.  Alright thats all I got- stay fly.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Progress on the 79' Shawnee

First of all, I do not know what I am doing when it comes to rehabbing a boat.  Anyway, This boat started out like this:

I painted everything with various qualities of paints and varying degrees of skill.

The bottom of the boat was pretty scarred up so I decided to paint it too. 

I filled in all the scrapes with MarineTex- worked pretty well.

I painted the hull with Rustoleum Topside paint.  In hindsight, this was a poor choice.  Obviously this paint is not for under the waterline, but it was cheap... and I am cheap so there ya go.  Looked pretty good at first.

Painted The stripe back on... with spray paint.  The only paper I had was an old text book.

The motor looked like one that might have been used in the movie Waterworld- which was an awesome movie.

So I Sanded and painted it.

The motor came out pretty good- obviously the decals were sacrificed.  I might get new ones- might not.  I used Dupli-color automotive spray paint with automotive primer.  Also sprayed a clear coat on the cowl and did a little wet sanding to shine it up. 

I painted the inside and the rails with- you guessed it- spray paint.  Looks surprisingly good.  I also picked up a Minn-Kota trolling motor and a battery.  Oh and I converted the livewell into dry storage- that is where the battery stays.

I also rattle canned the trailer.  Went through about 4 cans of that green.

Here she is on her maiden voyage on the Arkansas River:

Sorry for the crap picture- it was pretty dark.  So far I like the boat.  The motor runs really well and the boat is fairly fast.  The only issue is that with just my tiny wife in the front it wont get on plane.  Seems a bit back heavy... or maybe I need to lose some weight.  Oh well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hello Mr. Bass- Congo Hair Bluegill Fly

Congo Hair, size 2 stinger hook, MFC eyes and  Solarez UV resin.

These straight catch bass- with a floating line they usually stay right under the surface and have great action.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Finally a Boat Owner

So I've been scouring Craigslist and the Sunday classifieds for a river sled.  I was in the market for a very used, very cheap, fixer-upper type of water craft.  Well, I found it.  

Boom- A 1979 Shawnee.  15 feet 11 inches of pure trout fishing excellence.  Sure the paint is peeling and the fiberglass is showing through in spots... and of course the prop on the 1988 Yamaha looks like it took anti-aircraft fire... but hey- it floats (I think).  

I've got plans for this old girl.  So far everything is in working order- more or less.  The trailer pulls, bearing look ok, the motor fires up and shift gears and the hull appears to be in decent shape.
Plans include filling in the gouges and nicks, repainting everything including the trailer, new prop, and a trolling motor or oars (can't decide).  I also want to plug up the drain holes in the live well so I can use it for dry storage- I rarely keep fish anyway.  By the way I have no idea what I am doing- this is my first boat and I am an idiot.   

I am fairly sure the motor and probably the boat were rentals at some point.  None of the numbers on the motor match and it has a "6" on the bottom and a "3" on the cowl.  The motor is a 9.9 Yamaha with a 15 carb (or so the guy said).  The skeg is almost ground completely smooth- which may be a problem.  I changed out the lower unit oil and it looked ok as far as I know.  Overall I am pretty pumped.  Updates to be issued as events warrant.