Saturday, 28 July 2007

Have more fun and catch more bass

Fish Lake
Well it is that time of year again. The trout have retreated from the heat but bass are still happily cruising and looking for anything they can grab.

The place I live is known as The City of Lakes or as the folks down the road call it, The City of Flakes.

There are dozens of lakes throughout the city all brimming with bass and trout.

 I went out last night to do a bit of fishing and ended up just watching the variety of anglers who had gathered on the shore of the little lake next to where I was gassing up before heading out to my Secret Spot.

 It was interesting to observe the different skill levels and techniques being practised. Bass were rising regularly within reach of most anglers. Results varied but it was a very social and pleasant evening.

My feeling after watching this diverse group is simply that knowledge is power.
Those that take the time to learn a bit about their quarry will have more hook-ups than the chuck it and pray anglers.

Bass will start to move into a lake's shallower water, over gravel bars and around bushes once the water temperature reaches 60 degrees F. As the top water cools in the Fall they will go back to deeper water where its warmer, to stay within their preferred range. Somewhere between 60 and 7o degrees I think.

 During these hot July days, fishing from dawn until mid-morning and late afternoon until evening will be the most productive and pleasant. Concentrate on the shallows - five feet or less-and close to shore and cover. My rule of thumb is: the calmer the water, the longer the cast.

A popper or bug is simply deadly when bass are surface feeding. If you are fishing to a rise try and hit the rings. The bass is possibly cruising and won't necessarily be in that spot for long. When the bug has landed don't move it. Let it be still for a long count of ten. One and two and three... at about four the water will erupt beneath your bug.
Many rises to a bug are missed because there is slack line between your rod and the bug. Line control is the secret to bass fishing success and really to all fly fishing. Maintain positive contact between your fly and your rod to increase hook-ups. It is a thing I work on every time I'm fishing.
But, back to the bug. So its landed in the rings, you let it lie perfectly still and begin counting. If the fish doesn't come when you have reached ten, give the fly a twitch and start the count again.

If the cast was quick and accurate to the rise, the fish will usually come before the twitch.

 To perform the twitch or pop the popper, hold your rod tip low -this will speed your ability to strike by helping to pick up any slack quickly-give the line a quick, short jerk with your gathering hand and flick the tip of your rod.

Let the popper or bug lie still again and start your slow ten count. Tidy up any slack between you and the fly -without moving the fly- and remember keep the rod tip low.

If you are not casting to a rising fish use your knowledge of what the fish are doing to choose your target areas. If its hot and sunny look for shadowed cover such as lily pads or brush. Put the popper as close to the structure as possible, even bounce it off if you can. When it lands remember to keep it still, count to ten - then twitch it.
There are lots of tricks which start to make sense as you practise the technique. I will often land my bug or popper on a lily pad or rock, make a slow count and then twitch it into the water.

I'll cast from my belly boat into the one or two inches of water closest to the shore and retrieve towards deeper water. It always amazes me to connect with a big fish within a foot of the shore line but it happens often.
This is the time of year when the big terrestrials are available to the bass, so go big and don't be subtle.

I've always figured that there is an equation of survival that applies to all hunters. The calories burned to acquire the food must be less than the calories provided by the food.

 That is the thought that shapes my strategy when I'm stumped and trying to figure out what to try next.

So, think about what the bass is doing to find the biggest, easiest meal he can get.
Have fun. I hope these ideas will help you catch a few fish. Let me know if you have any tips that work for you.

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Friday, 27 July 2007

Finding Fishing Spots

 I think Google Earth and Google Maps are the most interesting and handy things. I use the hybrid satellite photo with the map superimposed on the image to find my way to spots I've heard rumours of but am not quite sure of exact locations. You can use GPS coordinates if you have them or just look around the most logical areas for likely fishing. Google Earth is also fun to play with.

I've spent a lot of time looking at the Nazca Plains for example. Anyway here is a link to some pretty interesting sights from space.,134186-c,mapping/article.html Let me know if you have any interesting sightings.

 I'm going to chase some Small Mouth Bass this evening. This is the best time of the year for poppers and bugs. It is hard to beat the rise of a Smallie to a popper for plain old fun.

The Dragonflies are also hatching now which makes for a lot of action around the weeds.

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Monday, 23 July 2007

What is the best fishing hat?

NFL Silver
 As you can see my search for a really good fishing hat continues.

This one started out as a cowboy hat with a fancy beaded band. It was a gift from a friend who golfs but doesn't fish. One good rain storm and a stubborn fisherman later this is what it looked like.

As you can see, fishing through the rain was rewarded but man, just look at that hat.

After another two days it was like putting a wet, clump of the lawn on my head.

 I finally chucked it and went back to a ball cap. As you can tell from previous posts I spend a lot of time thinking about fishing gear and what works or what doesn't.

 Here is what I think a fishing hat should do: Keep the sun from burning the tops of your ears. Provide protection when the wind or sloppiness sends a fly into the back of your head at full speed. Provide lots of air circulation to keep you cool. And, it should absolutely look better in a picture than this one.

 Most people I know wear ball caps. Many of the older guys wear some variation of a cowboy hat. I'm not sure what the guys wear for bonefishing or western trouting but I bet they have it figured out.

Let me know if you have any ideas. I'm going to start sending away for fly fishing equipment catalogues from all over the world just to see what they have thought of. That should be pretty interesting. I'll keep you posted.

Those are my new waders in this photo. I like them better each time I use them.

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Sunday, 22 July 2007

Easier than wrapping on a line guide

 using a Dobson Clip
Ever have this happen: You put your rod together and start threading the line through the guides when you notice that you don't have everything aligned?

Most of us just give the assembled rod a twist and keep going. That's usually O.K. until the time comes to disassemble the sections at the end of the day or before hiking through the bush to the next fishing spot and they won't budge.

What happens is that a bit of dirt or grit will lodge between the blank and the ferrule causing it to jam tight. Twisting it to align the line guides is often the event that causes the lock-up so you should never attempt to re-align the line guides after joining the sections of a rod.

We all do it though and once its jammed its a real problem.

The instinct is to try and apply more power to separate the rod sections by grabbing it around a line guide and twisting and pulling using the line guide to improve your grip.

That technique is sometimes successful but often ends in disaster for a beautifully wrapped line guide.

 Next time try this tip that dates back to the days of bamboo rods: If a ferrule sticks tight, hold the rod behind your slightly bent knees.

 Gripping the sections with one fist on either side of a knee, gradually exert outward pressure with your legs, spreading your knees further apart until -pop- the ferrules part.

Having separated the sections give both the male and female ferrule components a wipe or rinse in water to make sure they are clean.

 I sometimes drag my antique fly rods out for a flick and while it is fun and interesting, the difference in the amount of maintenance required versus a new rod is vast. Still, some of the old tricks are pretty useful.

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Saturday, 21 July 2007

More Big Fish

I couldn't resist posting this item from

The 18-stone fish that was off the scales
Few anglers complain that their catch is too large - but the man who landed this monster has reason to feel a little disappointed.
The fish was so big that his scales were unable to weigh it, denying him a certain world record.

The Siamese giant carp slapped the men with its tail as they struggled to hold it. It was caught by Thai fisherman Kik (right).

The Thai fisherman, known as Kik was left to estimate that the Siamese giant carp weighed 256lb - 36lb more than his scales could bear.
The world record for any member of the carp family, which includes goldfish, is 88lb.
Kik's boss, Jean-Francois Helias, who runs fishing tours in Thailand, said: "He hooked the catch of a lifetime that some anglers would sell their soul to the devil for. "It is the biggest carp ever caught on rod and line and kept slapping people with its tail."

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New waders: refer to the quote from Koos Brandt

Garia Bay River -Steve and Gerald
I was recently fishing in Newfoundland on an amazing river that runs through beautiful but difficult terrain. The shore of the river is rocky. When I say rocky I mean a carpet of stones from golf ball sized to watermelon sized stretching for miles.

 There were few big enough to sit on comfortably to rest your feet from the pounding they took walking or standing on this uneven surface all day and comfort became a big factor to being able to fish effectively.

 I mentioned in a previous post that being comfortable is to my mind one of the biggest factors in not just fishing well but to enjoying your day a field. Fly fishing takes concentration and you can’t concentrate if you are distracted by discomfort. It doesn’t take much to turn a trip from a great outing into an endurance contest.

 Knowing from previous experience what this place was like and the challenge of walking and fishing for hours on the stony ground I starting thinking seriously about how to best deal with the challenge presented.

My last trip there I’d worn boot foot waders and boot foot hip boots. By the second day the soles of my feet were so tender that I had to be careful how I placed my feet; by the end of a week – ouch!

The fishing was fantastic and worth every moment but if I could think of a solution to the difficulty it would sure be worth it.

I started looking into stocking foot waders. The logic being that if I was just going to go hiking on that sort of terrain I’d wear the stoutest hiking boots I could find, not a pair of slip on rubber boots.

 That is one of the big advantages to stocking foot waders. The boots are separate. You can find a pair that fits perfectly and are rugged enough for the terrain you’ll be fishing. You also have the option of getting a second pair of wading shoes that are lighter or rubber soled instead of felt soled, for the different locations you’ll be fishing.

In a nutshell you are not confined to a single pair of waders that are designed to be pretty good in most situations. You can instead customize your waders to be perfect for specific locations.

 I remember a guide I met at Grandy’s River who used Wal-Mart sneakers as his wading shoes over a good pair of breathable waders. Grandy’s has beautiful, sandy shores and bottom. Sneakers are the perfect footwear for that location. Instead of spending the money on wading boots, he could buy inexpensive sneakers and get the performance he required for that location. The perfect solution to equipment challenges isn’t always the most expensive.

What I ended up getting was a pair of Cabela’s breathable waders and their branded wading boots with felt soles. The breathable waders were a bit expensive for my budget but after using them on this trip I think it was money well spent. They are so comfortable; it is more like wearing a pair of pants than waders. An added bonus is they are light and roll up into a very small bundle for packing.

The boots are like a good pair of hikers and just as comfortable. They were the right solution for this trip. It was a pleasure from start to finish.
The fishing was great too.

A random thought:
We are always trying to improve our skills when it comes to fishing, especially fly fishing. Luck is certainly a factor in success but what is the old saying, “The harder I work the luckier I get”?

Well that seems to especially apply to fishing. It could be as simple a thing as being willing to walk a mile further than the other fellow to get to places with less angling pressure or as complex as studying the minutia of the insect behaviors in your stretch of the stream.

In fishing, knowledge and effort are both rewarded.

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Sunday, 15 July 2007

Fishing dry flies for salmon in Newfoundland.

 Just got home from Newfoundland. What a great trip! It is not all about the fishing, although that was pretty good; it is more about the camaraderie, meeting new people and renewing old friendships.

 I love hearing the old stories retold with all of the same enthusiasm as if the events had happened that afternoon instead of many years ago. Its great to rehash the theories of why a salmon even takes a fly or how best to play them.

My brother offered a thought on why salmon don't feed when they come into a river to spawn. He thinks its nature's way of preventing cannibalism. There are lots of parr in the rivers when the salmon are running. If it were actively feeding, a grilse or salmon would do considerable damage to the next generation. An interesting thought. Now, as to why they take a fly....

The flies that were hottest for me were a brown bug during the day cast upstream and fished dead drift. In the evening, a small black bear-green butt fished by the patent method. By small I mean a number 12 or 10. It always amazed me as the light was fading to get a strike on that small a fly. What incredible eyesight or other senses those fish have.

Fishing dry flies for salmon is about as much fun as I've ever had fishing. The rises are spectacular and the take when it comes is stunning. Its like it all happens in slow motion. Most people are so amazed the first few times they see a big salmon rising under their fly that they end up pulling it away from the fish in anticipation of the strike.

Having raised a fish but not hooked it, a kind of buck fever sets in. It takes the conscious exercise of self discipline to make a good cast to the same spot and wait for what seems like an eternity as you see the fish coming slowly up, mouth agape, to engulf your fly. What a wonderful experience.

I released most of the fish, some intentionally, but kept a couple to use for a traditional planked salmon dinner later this summer. Hopefully the same people who were with me in Newfoundland will be able to attend so I can relive once more a great fishing trip.

"This planet is covered with sordid men who demand that he who spends time fishing shall show returns in fish."~Leonidas Hubbard, Jr.

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