Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quick Beaver Tailwater Trip

Me and some buds ran up to Beaver Tailwater yesterday to take our minds off work/school or whatever.  The water was super low and the crowds were ridiculous.  The aluminum hatch was out of control and my indicator was run over by beer monkeys several times.  All in all we caught a few fish, saw some good scenery and cleared our minds.  The few fish were all standard cookie-cutter bows as is always the case below Beaver.  The best take away may have been this cell phone picture I snapped as we were trying to negotiate a spot to fish.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

White River, Bull Shoals Tailwater TR- Last Hoorah

Well I am about to graduate from law school.  While this sounds great and all, apparently they make you take this big test at the end of it.  So before battening down the hatches for the summer, my dad and I went for a little tailwater blitz up in northern Arkansas.  The White River below Bull Shoals was running zero units.  If you have ever fished the White, you know that this is a rare occurrence.  It is even rarer that you find it down and find time to fish it.  This was one of those rare times.  I love fishing the White from a boat- streamers and hoppers and stuff, but wading the White is a treat.  
We started off at Roundhouse Shoals because my buddy that guides around there said it was hopping.  He was dead on.  Literally my first cast produced this pretty brown out of the first little hole I saw.  I thought this was a good sign.  Turns out it was a mediocre sign.  Dad and I soon found out that we were fishing directly behind a group of four dudes with a guide.  One of these dudes had the whiniest, highest pitched little girl laugh you have ever heard.  He would deploy this laugh whenever he hooked a fish, and because he was fishing in front of his buddies, he caught quite a few fish... and laughed quite a bit.  That laugh was terrible, it haunts me.  Anyway, me and dad pulled quite a few fish out.  Most were healthy little 12-14 inch rainbow trout and a few smaller browns.  The fish were seriously healthy and fat.  They all fought like crazy, which made for a really fun day.  We caught almost all of our fish on midges- red and black mostly.  I noticed a few mayflies coming off- march browns I think- and actually caught four or five fish on a quill bodied Wulff variant (tied extra crappy).  I caught all these on the shallow flats and around a fallen tree.  There were also a few small caddis on the water.  
Dad hooked some good fish.  He got several fat and sassy rainbows and countless small fish.      

Most of our my fish were on an olive tubing midge with a black tungsten bead.  I think it was a size 16.  I put that thing on figuring it would resemble a caddis pupa which I am sure had to be around considering the adults flying about.

We also did well on zebra midges with red wire.  I hate fishing midges.  I really do.  That day I do not think I would have landed many fish on dries or streamers so I put my hatred aside and started flogging the water with tiny flies, shot and indicator.  I soon found that I was a little rusty with all that crap on my leader.  Apparently all those tight loops I love to throw do not do too well with so many points to tangle on... or maybe my cast needs work.  I spent a good bit of that first day untangling and retying.  One of the things I learned during my brief stint guiding out west is that it is almost always better to cut that junk off and retie than stand there fumbling for 15 minutes trying to untie those insanely intricate knots that only tippet and wind can produce.  Seriously, how can tippet tie fancier knots than any sailor?  I soon learned to open up my loops and I was back in business, although my leader looked pretty terrible.

Here is one of the fish that fell for my crappy Wulff ^.

After lunch, we moved down stream to the next pull-off past Roundhouse.  There we caught rainbow after rainbow until we got bored and tired.

We went and found a cheap motel and some pretty decent barbeque.  After a beer of two, my dad was down for the count.  I, being a tad more spry, decided to head up to Wildcat for some night fishing.  There was supposed to be rain moving in but it had not started yet so I felt pretty good.  When I got there, I was the only car in the lot- which was pretty cool.  It was a little eery out there but I heard some huge splashy rises so I suited up as fast as I could in the dark.  I tied a big black woolly onto my 7 weight and headed toward the boat ramp with my headlamp held low (so as not to spook the fishes).  As I stumbled through the dark, what I can only assume to be a pair of fighting raccoons scared the bejesus out of me.  This was especially startling considering that my dad and I saw a huge Arkansas black bear run across the road near the Buffalo River on our drive up.  It was nuts- I had never seen one in Arkansas and certainly hadn't seen a wild one that close.  It had to be at least 300 pounds and was running faster than I would have believed.

Anyway, I finally got down to the water and waded in up to my knees right on the boat ramp.  I like to wade out on that boat ramp because it provides stable footing.  I started casting and within about ten minutes I hooked a nice brown.  I got a few more bumps and misses after that.  About 30 minutes into my night trip, the rain began.  It wasn't so hard really, but something about either the noise or the breaking up of the water's surface stopped all bites completely.  I fished for another hour or so with no results.  I then sat in the car and called the fiance while I waited for the rain to stop.  It never stopped, so I called it a night- that one fish was awesome though. 

The next day we started out at Wildcat Shoals.  We really had our best luck here.  After wandering around for a bit, we both settled on a nice hole under the first rocky shoal and caught a ton of crazy little rainbows.  This next pretty little brown came on that same olive tubing midge.  Right before I landed this guy, I hooked something big that broke me off pretty handily.  I hate 6x tippet.  Most of our fish were again on midges.  Olive, red and black all worked.  I caught a bunch on fish on a caddis pupa with just black and olive hares ear dubbing.

After doing really well at Wildcat, we wisely decided that we needed to change locations...  We thought about hitting up Crooked creek but for some reason thought it would be awesome to go to Norfork.  Bad idea.  Some of you probably know this already, but the Norfork tailwater right under the dam apparently got blown out last April or so.  As a result, it now sucks.  The big pools are gone and so are most of the fish.  I was pretty wiped by this point so I downed a NOS and two gas station corn dogs... second bad idea.

This little brown was the only fish either of us landed.  He came on a Ray Charles scud.  

Just as we were starting to enjoy the placid green waters and fishy smelling air, the horn blew.   Our day was ended more quickly than we would have liked.  Should have gone to Crooked.  In fact, we should always go to Crooked because it is awesome.

After what turned out to be a really fun trip we packed up all our junk and headed back home.  Man, if you can catch the White when it is down like that it is a blast.  Until next time- go fishin for me because the BAR exam is looming in my future and my fishing schedule looks pretty bleak..

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Allen Fly Fishing- Tying Hook Review

Good shape on the short shank saltwater hooks.
I had been hearing a lot online about Allen Fly Fishing products.  I also had run out of hooks for clousers and bass flies. Oh, and I found 40 bucks in my PayPal account that I had forgotten about.  All of this coalesced into an impetuous purchase during a boring law class.  I ordered about 40 bucks worth of hooks- and I took them up on their 3 dollar fly box offer.  Anyway, the hooks came within about 3 days, which was pretty awesome.

I ordered mostly short shank saltwater hooks in size 2 and 4.  I also got some of the longer shank ones and some egg hooks.  Most of my plans were for carp flies actually.  Anyway, the saltwater hooks are pretty legit.  The short shank ones are sharp and seem strong.  Some of the hook eyes are a little crooked and a few hook points were a bit askew.  A little bending with my trusty pliers and all was good.  The price point is decent at around $5.85 per pack with free shipping.

Little gummy rainbow trout fly on an Allen SW002.

The longer shank saltwater hooks are a bit different.  The metal seems to be of better quality, they seem to be more consistent and they feel very strong.  The problem is that they are considerably more dull than the shorter shank hooks.  I hit them with a hook file and now they are tying some solid bass flies and articulated streamers.  I know that these are really not the flies these hooks are meant for but... whatever.

The egg hooks are decent, not extremely sharp but strong feeling.  I also ordered some small streamer hooks which seem flimsy and a little dull.  All in all I would say I got my money's worth.  The saltwater hooks are pretty good and the freshwater ones are usable with a little sharpening.  The little fly box that was 3 dollars is a little rickety but very handy.  It is basically a knock off C&F box that is obviously made by tiny Chinese hands, but will hold a bunch of small flies really well.  I would say that I will definitely do business with Allen again.  I cannot speak for anything but their hooks but I would be willing to try their other products.  Their service was prompt and reliable and their products will catch fish.  I honestly did not expect much, but my low expectations were exceeded by far.  Kudos Allen.  Oh and I landed that last carp on an Allen fly hook.

Figuring Out the Carp Game

I have figured out a solid carp spot.  I think this was the major issue in my lack of success with the carps.  This spot has tailers, slurpers, chasers and cruisers.  It has more carp than you can shake a stick at.  There are also some minor trespassing issues... but those are minor in my mind.  I have kind of figured out what people mean when they say that you have to fish to feeding fish.  I have not gotten one cruising fish to stop and look at my fly.  Not one.  But, if a carp is tailing and you plop a fly in front of them without spooking them, you can usually get them to check it out.  About fifty percent of the time, the carp will actually take the fly- then I will miss the hook set about twenty five percent of the time- because I suck.  The hardest part is trying to tell when they have taken the fly, especially if they aren't coming straight at you.  They don't always dive or look like they are taking the fly, they just hover over it and suck it in like some sort of hovering UFO sucking up fleeing children.  A good portion of the time, I will set the hook too hard or the carp will turn his head the wrong way and it will snap off.  This can be extremely frustrating.  I started out using 3x tippet.  I soon switched to 2x... then 1x.  The carp are pretty line shy, but they also tend to snap your tippet like Hulk Hogan snapping a femur.  I prefer to hook fewer fish but be able to land them.  Its a trade off.  
My favorite fly (only fly that has really worked) so far is just a bunch of black marabou on a size 6 saltwater hook with some lead eyes.  The other flies I have tried have worked ok, but I lose so many I figure there is no point in tying intricate flies.  The carp seem to like flies that make a soft plop and have a big fluffy profile.  I also have some success with a similar fly with a bunch of black rubber legs, but a mirror carp stole it when I foolishly grabbed the leader.  

I have yet to get a carp to grab a dry fly but I tied up a bunch of stupid grass flies, bread flies and mulberry flies.  None of them have worked at all.  No interest.  That is my next goal though.    

I am still not a carp expert by any means.  Not even a little bit.  I am a first year rookie in the minor leagues when it comes to carp.  However, I am learning and I am having a blast.  Go find some carp, you will experience a range of emotions you didn't even know you possessed... mostly rage... perhaps a few fleeting moments of elation and badassery if you're lucky and extremely persistent.

Gotcha sucker.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Salvaged Saturday Afternoon

I submit that there is nothing better than fishing with your dad.  My dad taught me to fish in little ponds and out on the Arkansas river with Beetlespins and worms.  I slowly graduated to bass fishing and then discovered the fly rod later in college.  I had to be down in Little Rock for the weekend and of course found some time to go fishing.  My dad and I have recently taken a great liking to the Little Red river, as he has also caught the fly fishing bug.  I had not been trout fishing in at least two months (still haven't) and when I checked the generation schedule Friday night, it miraculously said 0 until 7 o'clock or so.  I was pumped.  Dad was also pumped.  I would finally get to try out my new Ross Evolution 3 weight reel... awesome.  I packed up all my trout junk- waders and all- and we headed down south.  Dad and I were all geared up to hit the river, but alas, it was not meant to be.  We woke up too late, something about dinner plans or something- and somehow, our trip got canceled.  There was some female influence, apparently our priorities were not aligned.  Oh well, we still had a few hours.  We thought maybe the bass would be biting at the river.  When we say "the river" we mean the Arkansas.  Well, they weren't biting.  But, as luck would have it, there was a crazy mayfly hatch coming off and the little sunfish were going nuts.  After fishing for two hours catching nothing, it was a blast to just absolutely kick the crap out of some little bluegill with popping bugs and foam spiders.  We caught nothing big, there were no grip and grin hero shots, we did not get to fish where we had planned, but it was a great day.  After we were both satisfied that we could have caught every little fish in that river, we called it a day.  You really can't beat fishing with your dad on a nice day, even if the fish (or women) won't cooperate.