About Me

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Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
I am an attorney in my early thirties with a serious fly fishing problem. I work at a large corporate law firm where things move pretty fast. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of corporate America, I try as often as possible to get away and enjoy a quiet stream. My blog attempts to detail the adventures I have both on and off the water in "My World on the Fly."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Current River 3-29

I crushed it on the Current this past Sunday. Absolutely phenomenal day of fishing. Saturday night and early Sunday morning we got 1-2 inches of rain followed by a few inches of snow. I was a little hesitant to make the drive as I was risking a blown out mess of a river, but I really wanted a good day of streamer fishing and I knew the bad weather would keep the weekend anglers away.

Another motivator for me to get out was the day my buddy had the previous Sunday. Stone, my padawan fly flinger, decided to go fishing with Han (Solo) and it paid off. He ended up netting a 24+ inch pig all by his lonesome. The hog was verified by photos so I know he's not telling me a fish story. Plus, while he has been known to exaggerate, he understands a fish like that is not something you fabricate. It's too great a feat to make-up. It would be like claiming you shot a banded duck or hit a hole-in-one. You just don't do it. Anyway, it was a beautiful fish and I couldn't be more proud of the fact that he caught her by himself. He picked the fly (with some direction I offered prior to his departure), he picked the spot in the river, and he was able to land a huge Current River brown on 7x tippet. Congrats Stone! He also allegedly netted about 40 other fish on the day. I needed to have a day like that for myself.

So I got on the road early Sunday with hopes of matching 24 inches of brown. The entire drive I monitored river levels on my phone. The gage just below Montauk read 1.78, then 1.79, then 1.80 while I fished. I actually think it got a little higher while I was on the water but that's a good thing. I always tend to have better days when the water is coming up as opposed to falling.

Anyway, my concern was not how high the water was. I have fished the river at 2.20 so I knew 1.80 would not be an issue. The question would be clarity. If it was completely opaque with mud from run off, I would be in trouble. I was hoping for a moderate stain. Enough for the big browns to come out of hiding to feed on bait fish.

Driving through Rolla and crossing over the Little Piney, I thought I had gambled and lost. Usually, the Little Piney is a good indicator of what the Current will look like and the Piney was over its banks and fully stained--chocolate milk. My heart sunk as I figured I would be turning around as soon as I arrived. Nothing like spending 5 hours in the car to start off your Sunday. Maybe I could still catch fish if I stayed up high in the Park. I was going to give it a shot.

Turning the corner on 119 and heading down into the Park, I was seriously nervous. I know that sounds ridiculous but I was really excited to fish and did not want to give up my day. To my surprise, the water looked perfect. Slightly off color, enough to conceal the fish and me, yet clear enough for them to still feed. It couldn't have worked out better. The weather had scared off mostly all of the weekend anglers (although the Park was still a circus) and the conditions were ideal for streamers.

White was the color of choice on Sunday for whatever reason and the fish did not mind moving for the fly. The pattern I chose (which will remain nameless) rode very high in the water and each presentation was very visual. This proved to be good and bad. It was awesome to see the take but I had a little trouble early on not pulling the fly out of the fish's mouth when it attacked. I'd better get my shit together before I go tarpon fishing in May.

I use the word attack because that's exactly what they were doing. Some fish were feeding but others just seemed to strike out of pure aggression. It reminded me of salmon fishing in Alaska. When the salmon spawn, they stop eating and the only reason they strike a fly is because they're pissed that a flashy bug is invading their spawning ritual (at least that's what I've been told). It's pretty cool. Raw aggression. The browns on the Current were acting the same way. Fish were swimming across the river to hit my fly and some would come fully out of the water when they struck.

Fishing downstream, I covered about 2 miles of river with my streamers and I must have stuck over 100 fish. I burned through 6 of the pattern I was using simply because fish were destroying the fly. Some fish that ended up short striking the fly actually ripped the tail right off the streamer. I probably netted 50 or 60--mostly browns in the 12-14 inch range. Oddly enough, I think I only hooked two or three rainbows the entire day and two of those were caught on nymphs as I headed back up stream toward my truck.

I moved several very large fish on the streamers. The big boys were excited enough to chase the fly but most would either short strike or roll on it without actually eating. Unfortunately, I lost the two monsters that did decide to fully commit. One of the browns performed two great aerials before throwing the hook. Just enough to get me excited about how big he was before disappearing in the mirky water. This fish could have given Stone's a run for its money but I'll never know. Regardless, it was a phenomenal day and it was exactly what I was looking for. I can't wait to get out again on a rainy day. What's the weather like this weekend?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Current River, March 7, 2009

I hit the Current last Saturday with my buddy Steve. Steve is a phenomenal fisherman and he is largely responsible for my obsession with the sport. It's always a pleasure spending time on the water with Steve. He works as a product developer for Orvis and he always has the latest gear and definitely has his ear to the ground with respect to the fly fishing industry. Not to mention the fact that he's nasty with the fly rod and a pretty decent guy to hang out with to boot. We had a solid day sticking fish.

The weather was a beautiful, 50s and sunny, and of course the river was crowded (especially now that trout season is open again, yay!). I hope you can sense the sarcasm. Steve and I did our best to avoid the circus but depsite taking a long hike in the afternoon, we still bumped into other anglers all day.

All in all, the fishing was pretty slow and I don't really have any fish porn to post, unfortunately. We stuck a few rainbows early on varying nymphs but nothing was rising and the fish weren't taking any pattern on a regular basis. Steve and I both worked through our boxes in the morning and really didn't crack the code until the afternoon. One thing that's nice about fishing with Steve is that I am confident if fish aren't eating what he has to offer, it's not the right pattern. It's great to fish with someone who can really work water effectively. Essentially, it doubles the water you cover and flies you can present.

Steve finally stumbled on a hot pattern, the "Bread Crumb," which is essentially a Hare's Ear with a brown soft hackle collar. I'm almost certain the fish were taking these as some sort caddis immitation as the caddis were comming off pretty thick. I tied on a #16 Hare's Ear and the game was on. We both stuck quite a few fish in the afternoon and I had the opportunity to cast to a pig brown but couldn't seal the deal. Oh well. It was a blast site fishing to 12-15 inch browns and watching them eat my fly. Also, I know exactly where the big one lives and as long as some local yokal doesn't pluck him out of the river, I plan to get another shot at him.

Great day on the water and great catching up with Steve.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Arkansas, February 25 - March 1

The boys and I took our annual trip to Arkansas the last weekend in February. This year there were 5 of us: Davis, Stone, Stuart, Billy, and me. The weekend was supposed to start with a Thursday departure, however, as usual, Stone, Davis and I got the itch early and ended up leaving on Tuesday, 2-25. After work we piled into big John's RV and headed for the border. The plan was to sleep in the RV Tuesday night and park it wherever they were not running water. There was no question we were going to wet a line Tuesday night.

We were loaded and on the road by 7:30 PM. We parked the "Duk Bus" and fired up the the generator just below Norfork Dam by about 12:30 AM. After grabbing a bite to eat and gathering a little inspiration from "Duck Commanders," we wet our lines at about 1:30 AM.

Night fishing was slow compared to what we usually experience. Actually, Stone was the only angler to put a fish in hand. Davis went for a swim right off the bat and, with the 30 degree temperatures, he was a shivering mess by 4 AM.

I have no excuse. I simply couldn't get it done that night. For whatever reason, Stone put about a dozen trout in the net, I was skunked, and Davis was frozen.

At about 5 AM, Stone and I went back to the RV for a hot drink and re-rigged our rods for some daylight fishing. The sunrise was close and we were not planning on sleeping. We didn't drive 5 hours to sleep.

The sun ball rose and, like clockwork, they started running water on the Norfork. Unfortunately, Tuesday night provided the only low water we would see all weekend. Because we were without a boat, we decided to pack up and head over to Rim Shoals, our permanent lodging for the long weekend.

We rolled out of the park around 6:30 AM. Davis hit the rack and Stone and I navigated our way to Rim Shoals. After a brief check-in period, we rented a boat from Gary Flippin (owner of Rim Shoals) and hit the water. They were running 8 units and fishing was not easy--especially since none of us had ever fished at Rim or even seen Rim Shoals on low water. Regardless, Stone and I were on the attack.

Stone hooked up on our first drift with a SJ worm. I was at the motor, entertaining myself by working on my guiding skills. They proved to be pretty weak because we didn't hook up again until we headed down stream to some islands where we could wade fish. On high water, the trees on these islands created some really nice pocket water where there just had to be fish. This turned out to be true. Stone and I each netted a handful of rainbows here and I stuck one good 21 inch brown. I was pretty proud of this fish because I had never seen this water before and because I caught him on a number 16 sow bug pattern that I sort of made up. I'm not going to pretend like I re-invented the wheel here, but I'd like to think that my little additions to an otherwise standard pattern helped seal the deal.

After that brown, we headed back to the cabin to grab lunch and to pick up Davis who, at this point, had logged about 5 hours of sleep. The rest of the day was good. Stone and I were in kind of a daze having stayed up all night, but the three of us managed to put another dozen or so fish in the boat each. Not bad for having never seen the water and for working on zero sleep.

Day two we fished out in front of Rim Shoals with guide Jamie Rouse. Jamie normally guides on the Little Red, where he lives with his wife and daughter, however, he was nice enough to make the two hour trek over to Rim to tend to us for the day.

The idea for Thursday was to catch a big brown. We sacrificed numbers by throwing sinking lines and big streamers all day. The color of choice was white. Probably because of the shad that had been coming through on a fairly regular basis.

Our first drift was excellent. Davis landed four browns and, between the two of us, we moved some really nice fish. As the day progressed the action slowed a bit (as far as number of fish landed) but strikes came pretty regularly. Had we landed every fish that struck the streamers, it would have been one for the books, but that's the way it goes with streamers. Sometimes the fish commits and sometimes they short strike or just roll on the fly.

At about the half way point, we ran back up to the cabin to reload the coolers and grab lunch. As we sat there, our guide embarrassed all the angler's in the boat. He re-rigged the rods and, with an anchored boat just several feet from our cabin, he stuck this beauty dead drifting a shad pattern just off the side of the boat. Nice work Jamie!!

Lucky for Jamie, the clients had the last laugh. Toward the end of the day, I stuck this 23.5 inch, fat female brown:

Jamie was a phenomenal guide and a great guy to spend the day with. I absolutely recommend him to anyone that wants to fish in AR. I look forward to spending more time on the water with him in the future.

Thursday evening Stu and Billy arrived fired up to party. We enjoyed a few adult beverages, played a little poker, and attempted some night fishing from the bank with no success. The high water was killing us! We were all looking forward to Friday with guides John Gulley and Jimmy Traylor.

We awoke Friday morning to two chipper guides ready to head up to Bull Shoals Dam. Gully was actually a half hour early and forced the the heavy-headed crew out of their comas. Needless to say, the anglers required Bloody Mary's and some breakfast casserole to get moving.

Stuart was the big winner on Friday. For whatever reason, he decided to bring a fake mustache along. I wouldn't have mentioned this, but he looks absolutely ridiculous in the pictures and I had to explain why. I don't know what prompted this, but it's not too far off if you know Stuart.


Anyway, from Gulley's boat, Stuart netted 3 fish in the 20 inch range before lunch and Billy got a sore wrist from hauling in what must have been upwards of 25 shad-filled trout. The shad that were coming through the dam like I've never seen before.

Traylor's boat did not enjoy the same action. We fished further down river. I landed a few rainbows on egg patterns, as did Stone and Davis, but we had nothing of any size. The two boats rendezvoused at lunch and we changed up the chemistry a bit.

The second half of the day, Stone and I fished with Gulley and enjoyed some of the action that his boat was experiencing. I stuck an 18 inch brown and a rainbow to match, and Stone probably caught 45 fish in the span of four hours. It was pretty ridiculous.

Jimmy T's boat again was not keeping up. His boat caught some fish, but for whatever the reason, Gulley had the formula that day. Thanks to both guides for a great day! I wish we could have seen some low water (and I wish I could have out done Stuart) but, we can't always get what we want. I really hope he doesn't attribute his success to the stupid mustache.

Our final fishing day was Saturday because Sunday, as usual, is reserved for travel and recovery. A weather front moved in on Saturday and Stone and I were the only ones to make the morning shift (no surprise there). For the first few hours of our morning, we fished in almost white out conditions. It was very cool. We stuck a few decent bows in the morning and then decided to go rouse the crew.

All of the boys were on the water by about 10. Unfortunately, the fishing was slow. Perhaps it was the weather, the high water, or lack of knowing where to fish around Rim Shoals. I don't know. I really wish I could have seen the features of the river without 15 feet of extra water. Oh well. Everyone managed to stick a fish and some of us hit double digits. We cruised up crooked creek and caught a few bows which was fun. All in all, I will say it was a slow day fishing but a great day on the water with friends. I am looking forward to my next visit.