Wednesday, July 7, 2010


While up in Utah visiting family last week, I snuck off for a few hours of fishing on Thursday and Friday.  My wife will tell you it was the better part of two days, but you can decide who you want to believe.  On Thursday, I went and found a small stream, hoping to catch a few Bonneville cutthroat trout.  The first part of the stream I stopped off and tried to fish was flowing pretty fast and had a lot of cover.  Both made it difficult to fish.  Still, it was beautiful scenery and I was thankful to be out there to enjoy it.  I started out using a big dry fly and a weighted dropper to see if I could find any fish.  I fished this stretch for about an hour without any sign of success, casting wherever I could along the brushy stream.

After walking upstream around some especially thick brush, I found a nice spot to climb down the bank back to the stream.  Unfortunately, I didn't see the largest ant hill I've ever come across.  I sat down and began to slide down the bank to the water.  That's when I felt the ants start to climb all over my hand and arm.  It felt as if there were hundreds on me as I jumped the remaining distance into the middle of the stream and began stripping off my clothes and tossing them onto the opposite bank.  I'm glad no one was around to see me thrashing around half-dressed while slapping at the remaining ants crawling over my body.  I only had a few ant bites when it was finally over, but I could still feel them crawling on me for hours.  Since things weren't exactly going my way, I decided to pack up and move farther upstream.  A couple of miles further up I found a nice beaver dam.

The dam had created a small pond that looked promising.  As I carefully approached the water, I saw a couple of small trout sipping tiny insects off the surface.  I tied on a size 20 comparadun BWO and began to stalk a nearby trout.  Crawling on my hands and knees to get close enough to cast through the bushes, I finally presented an acceptable offering and was rewarded.

At first I thought I'd caught a rainbow, but the small, faint orange stripe under its jaw gave its identity away as a small cutthroat.  After a quick picture, the little cutt was off and I began untangling my line while waiting to see if another fish would begin feeding again.  This was only the second cutthroat I'd ever caught and I was anxious to catch a few more.  I spooked a nearby fish and thought I'd be done for a while, but moments later the nose of another, larger fish came into sight again and again.  By now, I had my casting figured out for this spot, so it didn't take long for me to catch my 2nd cutthroat of the day.

This was a pretty nice sized fish and it gave a good fight on my new 2wt.  I was ready for more, but the mosquitos and flies encouraged me to leave the stillwater behind and go down below the beaver dam to see what I could find in the moving water.  There was a perfect spot just below the dam holding several good sized cutthroats.  Standing behind the bushes or kneeling in the water beneath their branches provided some good cover while casting. 

I could see several fish feeding and chasing each other around in the feeding lanes.  A soft and gentle cast was all that was needed before the first one took my fly.  It was great to watch the fish see the fly and then turn and follow it downstream for a split second before taking it emphatically.

After catching a few fish on the comparadun BWO, I decided to switch out my fly for another small favorite, a size 20 Quigley Cripple.  You can see it did just as well, catching several more cutthroats.  The color on these fish was amazing.  I love the bold spots back along towards the tail.  The orange slash is definitely a highlight as well.

That little spot just below the beaver dam was a perfect place to catch some eager and beautiful fish.

A couple more came from some nice pools and pockets a bit farther downstream, too.  I had such a blast catching these awesome fish on my newest rod -- a great way to spend a few hours on the stream!

Friday, May 28, 2010

April 2010 Provo River

I found a few pictures taken while fishing on the Provo River back in April.  I had a really good time up there that day.  It was the first time I'd experienced a hatch that resulted in a lot of rising fish.  One minute the water was calm, the next it was practically boiling as the fish suddenly started to rise and take midges just under the surface.  It was a lot of fun to fish.  Of course, I spent most of the hatch pulling wind knots out of my line.  Still, I managed to catch a few on my size 20 comparadun BWO and midge flies.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May Fishing

I took yesterday afternoon off work and headed up to the Jemez area for some fishing with my friend John. It was kind of a rough day fishing. I caught one, had another two shake loose after a few head-shakes, and missed another 3 or 4 strikes. Still, it was a beautiful day to be outdoors, hiking and wading along the river. We had hoped that the stoneflies would be hatching, but we could not find any evidence of them. Perhaps in another week or so they'll show up. The fishing should be great by then with the runoff continuing to come down, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A 2wt of my own (Rod Build #4)

Here's my first rod building project for 2010.  I finished up a 6'6" 4pc 2wt Tiger Eye for myself. I'm pretty excited to finally have it completed. It's taken me quite a while to get it all put together. Now I just need to find some time to get up to the mountains and try it out.

This is the second of these blanks I've built. The first was for Mike (see here). I wanted to have my rod "match" his, but still be a bit different. I used the same colors and patterns, only I slimmed down the trim bands a bit.  The grip is a bit different as well, both in the type of cork I used as well as the size.

I couldn't help but put a trim wrap just ahead of the inscription area, 15" from the end of the reel seat. It's my goal/dream to catch something that big with this rod!

Here are the details:

-- 6'6" 4 pc 2wt Tiger Eye (tiger eye brown color)
-- Struble U-27 dark nickel silver uplocking slide band reel seat with teak insert
-- Grip made with burl cork with burnt and rubberized cork trim and sealed with Tru-Oil
-- Dark nickel silver winding check
-- Black nanolite ring lock stripping guide (one size 8)
-- Black H&H single foot standoff fly guides (one size 2, seven size 1 guides) and tiptop
-- Gudebrod chestnut thread with Sulky dark copper and light copper trim
-- Pheasant and jungle cock feather inlay

I'm getting a bit more comfortable with my growing rod building skills, but I recognize that I've still got a lot to learn and improve upon.  I had a lot of fun trying out new things and just generally practicing with this rod. I'm still working on my feather inlay technique, but it's getting better. I was more successful this time getting the pheasant feather to lay down (around) on the blank. I used three jungle cock nails to go with the three dark bands in the grip and three metallic trim bands. Finally, maybe I'm crazy, but I think that turning the rod by hand while the epoxy hardens helps keep the excitement and pride of a new rod going for a few extra hours.  (I turn the rod rod for 3 to 4 hours for each coat of epoxy, usually 2 or 3.)

I'm looking forward to fishing this rod a lot over the summer. Mike prefers a 3wt line for his rod, especially for close in and small stream work. I'll start out using a 2wt DT line on mine, but I won't be surprised if I end up also going to a 3wt line.

I can't wait to get back out on the streams!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fishing with Mike

A couple of weeks ago, we spent spring break visiting family up in Utah. Heidi was nice enough to let me leave her with the kids while I continued on up to Logan to go fishing with Mike. I drove up on a Monday afternoon, stopping off at In-N-Out Burger, Cabelas, Fishwest Fly Shop, Al's Sporting Goods, and Round Rocks Fly Shop. I did a lot of window shopping but picked up a few fly tying supplies I needed. With the car fueled with gas and my body fueled with a Double-Double Burger, I was really looking forward to spending some time with Mike on the river.

With the temperatures rising and the snow melting, we found ourselves Tuesday morning hoping to catch the start of the BWO hatch. Over the course of the day, we saw a few flies starting to come off the water, but nothing really materialized in the way of a good hatch. We didn't see any fish rising the entire day. It was kind of a rough day fishing, but we did manage to get a few (2 each) to take our flies.

I was really, really excited to go fishing with Mike. I used my SigV 8'6" 3wt while he tried out the 6'6" 4pc 2wt Tiger Eye I built for him for Christmas. Mike didn't have a reel for it yet so I took up my new Sage 3100 with Quiet Taper 2wt line on it. As happy as I was to fish with Mike, I was equally looking forward to trying out this new rod for the first time. I think we both were very happy with the Tiger Eye 2wt rod. It handled the 2wt line fairly well, although at the end of the day we both speculated that a 3wt line might be just a bit better for very close casting (like were were often doing for the small pocket water we were fishing most often). Based on this experience I'm looking forward to fishing my own 2wt Tiger Eye rods. Mike's short 2wt sure made my 3wt feel really heavy and stiff (and I really like my Dan Craft SigV 3wt ...). Anyways, enough on the new 2wt, and more about the fishing ...

Mike and I headed up the river and started out just past the areas we fished last summer. The river certainly has a different feel with the surrounding trees and shrubs barren of any leaves. This was my first time fishing here during the winter. I'm looking forward to getting back up there again this summer - I really enjoy fishing there.

During the summer this is a great pool to fish.  The reeds give you a place to hide while casting.  During the winter, it seems a little more effort is needed for a stealthy approach.

Mike managed the first fish of the day in the small pocket water just behind him.

This was Mike's second fish of the day - a nice brown.

This skinny brown was my first catch.

We were glad to be up there fishing before the spring run off. However, the water was still very clear. We found it difficult to approach the fish holding in the pocket water without spooking them. I really need to practice fishing pocket water sections ...

This little wonder was my second, and last fish of the trip ...

The upper section of the canyon has some calmer water. We didn't catch any fish in this stretch, but it sure made for some beautiful fishing. There are some really, really deep holes in this section.

About half-way up the canyon there's a small dam that provides a little stillwater action should you tire of fishing the faster river. We stopped off at the end of the day to practice casting. We saw several fish cruising around in there, but mostly it gave a great scene as the sun began to set.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Clear Water Canal ...

Well, so far I'm keeping up with my goal to get out and fish every month.  I spent a couple hours out fishing today and had much better luck compared to last month.  Rather than drive to my usual favorite streams in the mountains, which are probably still mostly frozen over and running pretty cold right now, I decided to try out a clear water canal about 20 min from my home. 

The canal is stocked with rainbow trout during winter.  The water in the canal gets a bit too warm in the summer for trout, so I doubt I'll fish there once the mountain streams thaw out.  Most of the fish in the canal are the usual "stocker" sized trout (8" to 10"), but I've been told that you can find the occasional hold-over from the previous winter. 

This canal runs almost perfectly clear water. The water clarity combined natural and human predation helps make these trout somewhat spooky.  I scared off several fish as I walked along the canal looking for a good spot to fish.  I finally found a pod of about 10 fish sitting in a deep pocket.  A couple of them bolted, but didn't go too far.  I walked back down stream a little ways, sat down, and rigged up my fly rod.  After about 15 minutes, I cautiously crept back up towards the hole.  This time I didn't spook them too badly, at least until I started casting.  The wind made it a bit tricky to get an accurate cast, but I managed to get a couple of good drifts through the hole.  A very subtle take on my hare's ear nymph and after a few good jumps and attempted runs, a little trout was brought to hand.

A couple more drifts and more success.  This one was bigger than the first and even though it didn't jump, it gave a good fight.  I didn't expect much out of these stocked rainbows, but they put up a pretty good fight.  It was a lot of fun catching this guy on my 3wt.  It will be fun to finish up my 2wt rods and try them out.  Maybe I should start looking into a 1wt or 0wt rod, too?

Normally I have my nymph tied on as a dropper from a dry fly.  I sue my dry fly as a strike indicator and if it pauses or moves in anyway (other than its normal drift downstream), I set the hook.  This time however, the dry fly just continued to drift along.  However, I saw a flash under the water about where I thought my nymph would be.  I set the hook and enjoyed a beautiful rainbow.

I managed to catch four fish out of that hole.  There were several big fish in there, but they weren't interested in what I had to offer.  I'm guessing they didn't get to be so big by being dumb. My fourth fish was one probably the nicest one I caught today.   

I usually release all the fish I catch, but I decided to take this one home for lunch.  A little garlic powder on the inside and lots of butter -- a nice trout for lunch.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Reel

I bought a new fly fishing toy (tool) last weekend, a Sage 3100 reel.  This is a very lightweight reel, weighing about 2.75 oz.  I'm hoping that this reel will balance out well with the two Tiger Eye 6'6" 4pc 2wt rods I'm working on now (similar to the rod I built for Mike).  I've got a Sage Quiet Taper 2wt DT line on there now.  We'll see how these Tiger Eye 2wt rods like a 2wt line.  I wouldn't be surprised if they may work better with a 3wt line.  Anyways, this 3100 is a click-pawl type reel.  There's a little plastic clicker in there that provides a little resistance to the reel spool.  The clicker's tension is adjustable, but so far I like it on the lightest setting.  A small fish could pull and take out some line, but the spool won't overrun.  Of course, the clicker makes a fair bit of noise, but most fly anglers kind of like that sound.  I'm excited to give this new reel a workout over then next year -- fun times ahead.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ice Fishing ... Kinda

Well, I started off on my quest to fish every month of 2010. My neighbor John and I headed up into the Jemez this past Friday. The weather forecast called for clear skies and temps near 50. Of course, things were a bit cooler up in the mountains, but it was still very nice up there. The first stream we stopped at was pretty well frozen over. There were a couple of spots where the ice had cleared. We saw a couple of fish hanging out down there, but we couldn't fish to them. They were hanging just under the ice at the head of the clearing. Hard to drift a fly down to them under a long stretch of ice. Still, it was a blast to get up in the mountains and hike around. I hiked through a couple of drifts were the snow was knee high. Our waders kept the snow off us and helped keep us warm. Crossing the frozen-over stream was fun, too. Every once in a while I'd hear the ice start to "pop", telling me to get across a little quicker. After a couple hours trying our luck on this small stream, we decided to head off to another spot.

The second stream was completely frozen, no chance of fishing there. We headed back down towards Jemez Springs where we'd find a bit more sun and warmer weather (less ice on the river). We stopped off at a popular picnic spot, well at least it's popular during the summers. The river was mostly ice free in this spot and there looked to be some good holes. There was a fair number of midges in the air -- too bad we couldn't see any fish rising to them. We fished there watching our nymphs for any subtle takes and had a great time; however, I managed to catch only one 7" rainbow.

So, for my last two fishing trips I've caught two fish total. I need to do more catching on these fishing trips! Oh well, it's as much about getting out and enjoying being outside as it is about catching fish. Still, I'm looking forward to some good dry fly action later this year.

One month down, 11 more to go ...

And I've got to get me a camera ... any suggestions?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Papa's Tiger Eye 4wt (Rod Build #3)

Almost every summer, all the guys in the family get together for a week of backpacking, camping, and fishing, or as we refer to it: "Extreme Mountaineering".  (side commentary: It does appear that our adventures have become less "extreme" with each passing year -- we must be getting softer, or at least older ... On second thought, we did have a pretty extreme hike this year -- nevermind ... )  Well, Dad has an old 7wt fly rod that he uses when we get together.  I know that 7wt means a lot to my Dad.  I'm sure he's got a lot of memories tied up with that rod. But the rod is probably older than I am, and I just didn't think that a 7wt was working too well for the streams and rivers were we have fished together recently.  So I decided I'd build a new fly rod for him.  I'm hopeful that we'll be able to create a lot of new memories with this new fly rod, just like his 7wt.

I thought a lot about what type of fly rod would probably work best for Dad's rod; length, weight, action, etc.  Michael and I talked it over too and decided a 4wt rod would work best for him, especially considering the small to medium sized rivers we fish when we get together for our summertime adventure.  I decided to build a 7'6" 4 pc 3/4 wt Tiger Eye.  Now the 3/4 wt designation means it's intended to use either a 3wt or 4wt fly line.  I expect the rod to be a fast action 3wt or a moderate action 4wt, which I think will be a great fit for Dad.

I really like the way the rod came out, from the feel and fit of the grip to the light and somewhat flexible Recoil guides.  I'm sure Dad will like it too ...

Here are the rod details:

--  7'6" 4 pc 3/4 wt Tiger Eye (tiger eye brown color)
--  Titanium colored window reel seat (aluminum) with burl rosewood insert
--  Full-Wells style grip made with Copano exotic cork with Burnt and rubberized cork ends
--  Forecast light titanium winding check
--  Fuji titanium SiC stripping and taming guides (size 10 and size 8)
--  REC Recoil snake guides (one size 2, seven size 1 guides)
--  H&H chrome large loop, thin wire tiptop
--  Gudebrod chestnut thread with Sulky light copper trim
--  Pheasant and jungle cock feather inlay

Here's Papa's new rod:

You know it's Papa's rod because it's got his name on it:

Just like Michael's rod, I kept with the subtle earthtones in the wraps -- no color preserver and chestnut wraps to match the blank.  I did a five-turn spiral thread inlay on the ferrules using the light copper thread. 

I actually did the feather inlay for Papa's rod before I did the one on Michael's.  I spent a good amount of time thinking of feather combinations to try.  I knew I didn't want anything extravagant.  I wanted something personal.  Well, I finally came up with the perfect bird: pheasant.  Some of my favorite memories growing up are from times Dad and I went hunting, and came back with nothing to show for it.  Well, there was that one time deer hunting when Dad emptied his shotgun (full magazine) to kill a jack rabbit.  At least we shot something that trip (we got rid of the rabbit before getting home -- we still haven't brought anything home from a hunting trip).  Anyways, I thought back to the times the two of us would go out pheasant hunting.  Most of the time, Dad was the hunter while I was the "dog".  I was okay with that too, except I never did like the idea of bird shot coming in my general direction as the pheasants were flushed out.  I also seem to recall most of the birds just running away from us on the ground rather than flying off and giving us a shot at them.  Nevertheless, I have good memories of "attempted pheasant hunts" so, a pheasant feather it was.  One pheasant feather on the rod with a single jungle cock nail on top.  Perhaps I'll make this my "signature" on my personal rods ...

You can see the inlay again in this picture along with the stripping and tamer guides and three snake guides. Without any trim on the guide wraps, the guides blend in nicely with the rod.

A final rod picture ...

I wish I would have taken a picture of the rod tube for Papa's rod, too. It's an brown-grey-bronze color powder coated aluminum tube with golden copper anodized end caps. It looks sharp.

I'm looking forward to fishing with you this summer Dad. Now get out there and practice your casting on the lake behind your house (as long as it's not frozen over).