You may be right, I may be crazy. But I’m not wrong…

As a novice angler I have heard a lot of, “you’ll never / you can’t / you’re doing it all wrong / you can’t catch / they don’t …. ( fill in the blank).”  Some anglers think that they really do have it all figured out.  If you ask them they are the experts, fish literally swim to the nearest phone and call them to find out what to eat, what kind of clothes they prefer, what brand of boat you must have, and a myriad of other mysterious questions.

What I have figured out is they are wrong.  I’m totally sure of it, 100%.  This is particularly true of fly fishing.  Some anglers get blinded by the right way to do this and that. From reading the water, to what fish you can catch on a fly.  You could write a book on how many different “best ways” to cast exist.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of perfect methods out there.  Many push their method as superior, or the only one usable and so on.  I am sure that there are better ways than some and worse than others, but I think a lot of people in the sport are missing the point.

I can think of one instance in particular that happened to me personally, and I would venture that many people have encountered something similar.  I was probably twelve at the time and had taken a trip to Bennett Springs, in Central Missouri during Easter with my family.  I had a facination with fly fishing and convinced my mom to rent a fly rod for me from the visitors center there.  I had no real experience with fly fishing, I had read magazines, watched some videos, but really this was my first time fly fishing.

I bought a few flies they recomended and made my way to the river.  Thats where I encountered probably the biggest (fill in the blank) I have ever encountered while fishing.  I will spare you the details but this guy pretty much ruined my day fishing single handedly.  I didn’t pick up a fly rod again until I was in college and still don’t really personally care for trout fishing.   

Long story short this guy at the river riducluded my casting, choice of fly, and told me that fishing that way wasnt really fly fishing for trout.  My cast was ugly, still is.  Who cares, and as for my choice of fly, which was a glo-ball, it worked.  Who really cares if it didn’t match the latest hatch at the local “put and take” trout park. If the fly looks like food enough for the trout, it works just fine for me. 

The reason I am taking note of any of this is not to gripe that I met a less than desireable character one day, or that there is a lot of debate as to the productivity of certain methods in fishing, but rather to draw attention to the need for innovation and creativity in fishing.

There are a lot of rules, especially in fly fishing, that exist that need to be broken or at least called into question.  One “rule” that a lot of fly fishermen wouldn’t dare mess with is line selection.  An 8wt. rod gets an 8 wt. line, no ifs’ and’s or but’s.  But… that isn’t always true.  I have encountered rods that casted better with heavier line, sometimes two weights heavier.  It loaded better, it casted more accurately, and was better to fish with.  There are times when going lower can help such as in the wind, where a smaller diameter will incurr less drag. I have never done it, but I am told it works well. 

For some reason a lot of people look for rules to attach to fishing to make some kind of infalliable system for catching fish.  You can’t.  Fishing is extreamly dynamic no matter what method you use, fly fishing is no exception.  I don’t think that it helps anyone to limit the imagination of the angler. 

I also encourage you to try something slighly unorthodox that you may have been wondering about next time you’re out.  Sometimes unexpected success can come out of an expirement.  Last summer I was fishing the dog days of August for largemouth here that the Lake of the Ozarks having minimal luck.  I was fishing 15-25′ deep using 10″ Texas rigged worms and jigs.  When it gets hot and the fish seem to look for some relief deeper and thats how a lot of people go about trying to catch them.  I was fishing afternoons and evenings after work not doing particularly well.  As I was getting ready to call it a day or night really, I gave a last cast right up on shore, I’m talking the tail of the worm was on the bank out of the water, on shore. No sooner than I started to inch it into the water I had a fish on.  This went on all night untill I packed up at about 11 pm.  That pattern worked well for the remaining duration of the summer.

I am not trying to say that I invented something or found some crazy radical trick or that was a genious pattern or something like that.  The point is I would have not had a great end to the summer last year if I had not tried something a little different.  The next time you’re out give something a try, who knows it just may work.

Posted in Bass, Bass, Fish, Fishing, Fly Fishing | 1 Comment

Walleye on the Fly

After my latest, and I will say the last trip to Minnesota for walleye, (at least for now),  its been a goal of mine to catch these guys locally.  Walleye are native to the Lake of the Ozarks and Osage River, but it seems like they are a ghost in the water.  Not many anglers really go after them directly, most of what I catch news of is the crappie fisherman who catches the occasional walleye by accident.  I am sure that there are people who really knock them down and know where to go and keep that to themselves for good reason. 

Anyway, I put a little information together and talked to a few people who do fish them regularly and came up with a pattern that I figured would be pretty productive and it turned out to work in good fashion. 

Firstly, tried to pattern a fly around small gizzard shad, turns out that Bob Clouser did a pretty solid job of that for me sometime back.  I settled on using a black, white and Krystal Flash Clouser Minnow.  This fly does a great job of imitating bait fish.  It is very similar to fishing a marabou jig, although the Clouser Minnow keeps itself somewhat horizontal.  I was using a #6 and #4 hook size, attached to 0x fluorocarbon up to a braided leader and #8 WF floating line matched to a like rod.  As a side note, this pattern is also really effective with all species of bass, and according to Lefty Kreh, he has caught more that eighty species of fish on the Clouser Minnow.  

In my opinion, you gain a couple of advantages by fly fishing for walleye.  Firstly, you can fish slowly.  I was going after them in late December, the water temperature had dropped and from what I could tell the fish had slowed down as well.  A light Clouser minnow allowed me work the fly on a slow drift with the current and present the fly without getting in trouble with the rocks on the bottom.  This gives a natural look to the pattern, like a bait fish being over-run in the current pushed through eddies and into the feeding zone of the fish.

Walleye are a lazy fish, and the are usually found together.  What I mean when I call them lazy is that they tend to sit behind the current and wait for dinner to be delivered by the current.  It makes sense when you think about it, would you want to swim in strong current all day and waste energy or stay in slower water and wait for dissorientate bait fish to swirl into slack water?  It took me sometime to figure out where these fish would be waiting to ambush bait, but I have gotten a little better at reading the water for these feeding points.  First I look for the fastest moving water,  personally I don’t think walleye are going to be feeding in that area.  Then, I look for any different currents, these would be back flows, eddies, vortexes, and slack water.  The areas that I had the most luck with are the slack water created when back flows meet fast-moving water, and vortexes created by back flows and different rates of water flow. 

Without a whole lot of imagination you can picture a walleye camping in the slow-moving water waiting for dinner to be served.  By making a cast and then a slow strip you can keep your fly in front of the fish and work those areas at different depths to locate fish.  Walleye are very light-sensitive and feed well in low light.  Most of the fish I was catching were coming in half an hour before sunset until 9pm. 

Fishing in low light does take some getting used to but with a little practice, and a lot of patience with yourself it can really be enjoyable.  It is a great time to have the water by yourself and enjoy spots that can otherwise be crowded during the day.  Often times people overlook and under-fish low light conditions. 

Walleye are notorious for soft bites, I really don’t want to consider how many fish I don’t even know that pick up my fly.  Holding a tight line free of slack can help. When fishing upstream; strip the line in at the same rate the fly drifts, if the line seems to pause most likely you have the bottom or a fish.  Strip the line and lift the rod to hopefully set the hook or raise the fly off the bottom.  I know that often times I am surprised when I think I am snagged, only to feel that tug and go of a fish.

I got some positive results out the methods and madness. I landed three fish over four pounds and several more on my spinning tackle.  I am just glad to know that there are solid numbers and fish so close to home.  I am looking forward to trying them again this weekend. 

Posted in Fishing, Fly Fishing, Walleye, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Start of a New Season

So as December turned into January and 2010 to 2011, I decided to step back and take a look at last year’s fishing, some trips that I need to take this year and what I think is to come in the next twelve months. 

In my opinion 2010 was a great year for fishing here in Mid-Missouri at the Lake of the Ozarks and surrounding areas.  Personally, I caught more four and five-pound bass than I have in previous years and had some exceptional crappie fishing as well.  If you mix in some good walleye, white bass, and hybrids I think you have a pretty well-rounded and exciting endeavor. 

This is the time of year that a lot of anglers sit back, enjoy some down time and rig up for spring, although I personally think that is a serious waste of good fishing time.  Some of my friends swear by January weather for bringing in big bass.  Honestly I have reason to believe they are right.  If you can tolerate the weather and monotony of jerkbait fishing there probably isn’t a better time of year to pursue large bass than right now in the dead of Winter, (its 14 degrees above right now outside).  I had my largest catch out of Lake of the Ozarks last season the day after Christmas fishing with my friend Chris Maher.  Although for the most part the catches are few and far between, the fish tend to be larger. 

Late last summer I began fly fishing more often.  Doing more fly fishing is a serious goal of mine for this season.  I would like to make the short trip down to Truman Dam Spillway and also to the White River for a chance at a full striper on a fly.  I enjoy fishing more than most things I can think of and I enjoy fly fishing more than any other method of fishing I have come across.  That doesn’t mean that I am putting away the casting rods, but I am going to spend this season concentrating on fly fishing for species that I have only tried at with conventional casting. 

Small mouth bass are definitely on my list for 2011.  I love their fight and they seem to inhabit some of the most beautiful streams and rivers in the area.  Another fish that I am going after hard this year is walleye.  Many people really don’t think of Central Missouri having a great walleye population, but honestly I do better here regularly than trips to Minnesota, you just have to put in the time to find them.

I know that I will be taking sometime to go after large mouths this spring along with the whites, and hybrids.  Whites and hybrids are what got me hooked on fly fishing.  They not only hit hard, but they hit often.  If you can find where the food is for the fish, they will be there and they will be eating.  Hybrids don’t grow to ten and fifteen pounds by being shy at the dinner table, they are constantly feeding.  Hopefully I can trick a few more into taking a fly. 

In the next year I hope to be able to share of experiences about chasing these fish, some methods, stories, and tales about how it worked out.

Posted in Bass, Fish, Fishing, Fly Fishing, Walleye, Walleye Fishing, White Bass | Tagged | 2 Comments