Thursday, April 24, 2014

on the hunt for bluegills

My daughter and I have a plan to chase some serious panfish this year. Over the winter she has become super interested in all the flies that I've been making and has injected herself into the process. The connection of making the bugs and then feeding them to the fish is only natural, right?

5 years old and looking like a pro
The bluegill part was my choice, partly because of their abundance and willingness to take a fly. But, also because part of me really wants to spend some time really pursuing a few slab sized specimens. I've really been interested lately researching panfish related flies and can't wait until they move into the shallows in full force.

We have checked a few of the bigger lakes so far with out much action. The smaller mud bottom lakes though have been quite a bit warmer and have been better producers.

my daughters first fly rod crappie (ignore the discarded bobber, certainly not ours) 
She has done a great job understanding the differences in casting and how to retrieve the flies by using her hands to strip the flies in. The best part is opening the fly box and asking her opinion on what fly is going to be the bug of the day. We are in the process of building her her own fly box filled with her own flies.

not a giant but sure is pretty
Stay tuned as we continue the search for some real slabs. This post will also most likely spawn some panfish specific fly recipes posts.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

hare'e stonefly nymph

Hook - Tiemco 5263 size 10
Bead - 1/8 inch
Weight - 10 wraps lead wire
Thread - tan
Antennae - goose biots
Body - Hare'e wiggle dub (golden brown)
Hackle - india hen back soft hackle

In The Riffle Instruction Video

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Monday, April 21, 2014

a driftless trout fishing blog post

A trip to the Wisconsin driftless area for some trout fishing can really revitalize a persons spirit. Despite the scattered and persistent storms last weekend the trout fishing refused to disappoint. I was able to visit a few streams from the past as well as some new water to bookmark for returns. Streams of the past have changed their faces in the last few years. Pools have changed in shape, some have vanished, and new pools have formed, but the one thing that remains consistent is an abundance of trout.

driftless trout on a wooly bugger
 While most of my morning action played out in the rain, it wasn't until the lightning and thunder showed that I let it run me off the stream and back into town. By that time it was nearly noon. I had fished two streams, covered some new productive water and had caught nearly 20 fish. A good morning for sure.

the storm moving in from the right chased me back to town
It was a short drive back to the town of Viroqua. A break for a hamburger, a pit stop, and a drop by the fly shop allowed most of the lightning and rain to pass me by (so I thought). And, after lunch, I set out to explore Vernon county Wisconsin. The trout streams here refused to disappoint, I found trout visible from almost every bridge crossing I scouted.

driftless trout were liking the wooly bugger
 Mid afternoon is when I finally understood the storms were just going to follow me the whole day. I continued to head east to stay ahead of weather, fishing my way across Vernon and Richland counties. Eventually the fronts drove me south.

rain clouds are in the distance of every scenery shot I have from the day
Wind and rain were all part of the ingredients to my successful day. I wouldn't have changed a single thing about the trip. Even dropping down into Grant county to fish a stretch I've been skunked on the only two times I've fished it worked out well. I caught two trout on that stretch.

not the biggest but takes a skunk off a stretch of river for me
It was a great run to the trout waters of Wisconsin. The fishing made the miles behind the wheel worth it. Also was nice to meet some new anglers streamside. The grass is greening up and plenty of good fly fishing lies ahead for the season. For now, my fly fishing outlook is promising.
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

eagle claw featherlight, a cult classic?

eagle claw featherlight
Trying out my new 6'6" Eagle Claw Featherlight fly rod for the first time while in the Driftless area was nothing short of spectacular. Matched with the Martin 65 fly reel acquired this winter and strung with a DT 5 fly line this combo was perfectly suited to tackle these small spring creeks. I tied on a wooly bugger and it took just 3 casts before I deflowered this rods purity.

stream trout on a featherlight
 I own some pretty nice fly rods that cost quite a bit more then the featherweight, which weighs in at a bank busting 30$. I'm not here to be a pusher and tell you that this little rod out performs a rod that costs 10x's as much. What I can say is that this rods delivers far more fun then the value of its price tag. I brought my 3 wt graphite rod set up for throwing some nymphs, and needless to say, it never left my trunk. 

eagle claw featherlight in action
The rest of my trip report will follow later this week...
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

martin 65 fly reel

I blame the severity of this winter for the vast amount of vintage gear purchased off the auction site in the last four months. I now have a completely new arsenal of rod and reel to break in this year and am totally juiced to use some equipment with a bit of back story.

Of the fly reels purchased, the cheapest score has turned out to be my most favorite. The Martin 65 fly reel was the first one I have added backing and line to and seems to pair nice with the 2 short glass rods it will be used on. The line I chose is a DT 5...

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

creek creeping

I've been creeping around some local creeks for a couple weeks now. Many of the big rivers just iced out and most of the medium sized rivers locally are running high and dirty. While I am still fishless since switching over to fly fishing this year, I'm content just to finally be throwing some loops. As flows and clarity begin to level out I expect to find the fly fishing picking up.

fox river tributary flowing high and muddy
a trib to the creek above, a grandchild to the fox, if you will
The two photos above are places I scouted while out on a dog walk. While I didn't actually fish them, I did manage to make note a few access points. It's quite a long creek and should contain a variety of fish since its connected to the fox river. I'm going to spend some time fishing this a bit later in the year so I'm excited to put in some time getting the lay of land. On the other side of the coin, the new dog Bandit got some off the leash time here and I now realize that he is fricken nuts. Bandit needs some more training before I just set him loose again. He was a good sport about following me but had a hard time understanding when I wanted to leash him up again. It took me almost 30 minutes to get him hooked back up again. The highlight of our walk was Bandit falling into the creek and not being able to get himself back up the raised bank. I had to get a good hold on his scruff and yank him back on dry land.

love those hazy blue green pools, should be a steelhead in there somewhere, right?
Yes, there should be a steelhead in that long run, and there was. I hooked him in some brush just above where this photo was taken. I horsed him back out of the brush pretty quick but lost him racing down the gravel bend in the photo. It was a good trout with very nice shoulders, and that is the heartbreak story of the post. The fish ate an egg under and indicator. There wasn't a lot of fish in the river from what I can gather but I gave it a good try and covered a lot of ground out there, enough so that my legs were tight and on fire the next day.

a des plaines river tributary
My most promising discovery was this little gem of a creek that flows into the Des Plaines River in a 100% urban setting. The creek was running swift and clear and I gave it 20 mins tossing an orange wooly bugger with no takers. Being a trib to the Des Plaines I would have to imagine some pike run through here in the spring. My most favorite thing about this creek is the succession of riffles and pools in this lower section of water. It just seems fishy and from the looks of the bank, it doesn't see much traffic.

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