Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Laelyn and Bryson Learning How to use the Fly Rod

 Cathey and I spent a few days this past week visiting B.T. Jenny and the grandchildren in Springhill, Tennessee. I've been carrying a couple of my fly rods along on some of the trips to teach Laelyn and Bryson how to use the fly rod. Both are making progress with their casting and placement of the fly, starting with a short cast and adding distance as they get accustomed to the feel of the reel and rod. I am hoping they will be ready by late Spring to land a few bluegills in a park pond located near our home. We're going to use the pond to learn how to play a fish and land it. Hopefully, by the time they visit in the Summer, they will be ready to fish Smith from the boat. We are looking forward to seeing them land some of the Spotted Bass that roam the waters of Smith, which should merit their fly fishing diploma. I thought I would share some of their progress this past week. Their younger brother, Cash is still a work in progress??

I hope Cash can use the fly rod soon as well as he plays flag football. He is their scat-back and the fastest player on his team. No 25

I have given this 2wt. 7 1/2 ft. Redingon Trout Classic fly rod and Orvis 2/3 wt fly reel to Laelyn, but there are rules that come with the gift. She can only use it when she is with her Dad or me and the fly rod stays at Meme and Pops house until I feel she is big enough to take care of the combo. The same rules apply to Bryson as well. 
This is Bryson's 3 wt paired with the older version of the 3wt. Orvis reel. The fly rod is the Redington Trout Classic 7 1/2 ft.-----We're all looking forward to the start of the season, which is getting closer by the day! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Finally Back on the Sipsey

Tuesday and Thursday are my fishing days either on Smith Lake or the Sipsey. I was surprised when I pulled into the parking lot and saw only 4 vehicles. The last time I witnessed this amount of traffic on the Sipsey was back before the virus hit. 

I always rig my fly rod the night before with the flies I think the trout will take. After 30 minutes with no takes on a tandem nymph set-up I tied on one of Alans Soft Hackles

 The first trout of the morning to get things started on a slow day fishing clear blue skies.

One of many runs I fished during the outing. Dead drifting a couple of fly patterns got numerous takes. I lost twice as many trout as I landed because of fly rod selection today. I should have been fishing my 4wt. instead of the 3wt. 

I've landed trout with damaged gill plates before here, could be biting each other in the small tank they are transferred in to reach the tailrace. 
My lunch seat to enjoy my wheat crackers, without my after-lunch coffee.  
My last trout for the trip, fishing the fast deep waters around the numerous sunken logs between access five and access six. This trout had numerous scars on its sides. It looks like a Stripped Bass went after it for a meal. All the trout taken today were Dale Hollow hatchery trout in the 10--11-inch range. 
I hope all you guys have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  

Friday, December 4, 2020

My Favorite Fishing Areas on Beautiful Smith Lake

 I have spent the last few days finishing my blog to book project and have it ready to send to the printers. While working on this project I scanned through hundreds and hundreds of images that were used in all my posts I used for the past 11 years. Of course, the fish images always stand out, but the ones that really got my attention were the awesome rock formations that formed the rock walls on Smith Lake. The following images are some of my favorite walls that make fishing this beautiful lake so special aside from landing those fighting spotted bass! 

A hit could occur anywhere along this wall simply because of the shade. The prime area is the fallen tree. The closer you can place the popper to the prongs submerged in the water the better chance you have to get a hit. 
I have landed numbers of big bluegill off this wall, very few bass were taken here. I kept wondering why all the bluegills. Well with the lake down over 10 ft. last fall I discovered the reason for the bluegill; sandy bottom. Bluegill gathers on sandy bottoms, especially during spawning season. 
One would think with the air deck, monorail, and long ramp leading to a huge double floating boathouse and pier----these individuals would fish just a little. No such luck, they are leaving all the bluegill and spotted bass to the rest of us. I will gladly help them thin the fish species. 
This wall is by far the most spectacular of all the rock walls I fish on this lake. I am amazed at how the trees grow and flourish in the cracks of the huge boulders. The fallen trees and hidden boulders submerged just below the surface are prime real estate for spotted bass and huge bluegills. This wall is loaded with submerged boulders.
This wall is a favorite of the crappie fishermen on the lake, because of the amount of brush they have dropped along its base. The brush attracts huge bluegill and nice spots in the summer months. The shad gather around the brush early and late and a cream-colored popper or cream streamer will produce some savage hits. 
This is the shelf wall because at its base it has a unique feature that the rest doesn't have; a shallow shelf running along its base. Bass gather in the shallow edges at daylight to chase and gorge on the shad. Place a cream popper or cream streamer anywhere near the wall at daylight or late afternoon and watch it get taken!!
Low walls can produce fish as well as spectacular ones. In the case of this wall, most of it is located beneath the waterline. Twenty-five to forty feet depths is hidden off the edge of this particular wall. I have landed more bass on this wall as opposed to bluegill. 
A prime area in the springtime. Place a tiny popper under the overhanging trees and expect a hit from bluegill. Areas like this are where the large bluegill select to spawn. Bluegill on Smith spawns in water 6 to 8 ft. deep in the super clear water. A good pair of polarized glasses will help locate the beds.
The closer one can place a fly in the split area on this wall the better chance you have to attract a take. I always have one fly rod rigged with a furled leader. The limp action of this leader, as opposed to the mono leader, make it easier to maneuver a fly or popper in the crack openings along this wall. Making a low side cast will place a popper under the wall overhangs. I've landed numerous bluegill and bass by letting the popper sit motionless under wall overhangs. As most of you know I like to make numerous runs up and down all the walls I fish on Smith. By making numerous runs you cover the area on the wall much better. In other words, each wall has fish moving in and out of its shadows all day; an endless supply of fish. 
This overhang is one of the best I fish. Placing a muddler minnow or popper right against the back area of the overhang will produce. Patience is the key when fishing all the walls. Let the popper work its magic by letting it sit and get the attention of the fish before you ever move it. Overcast days are the most productive when fishing surface flies on Smith. Cloud cover hiding the sun enables me to fish the same walls two or three times during a trip. 
Some of the walls have nooks that will always produce fish. I wish I had some of this fern around my house. The moisture released in the cracks of this wall keeps the fern leafy and green all summer until frost. This area is another place that fly placement is so important. The closer you can get the popper or fly near the wall or under the overhanging limbs the better chance you have to land monster bluegill or spotted bass. 
Smith Lake has the luxury of being one of the deepest lakes in the south. Standing timber was submerged when the lake was flooded, which is an excellent habitat for all the fish species that live in its waters. The heavy boat traffic helps to keep the lake well oxidized and the super clear water proves that it's one of the cleanest lakes in the south. Of all the lakes I've fished in my life, Smith has to be the most beautiful. Why go anywhere else to fish when one has a lake like Smith to fish?

Friday, October 30, 2020

Big Bluegills Scarce Until Next Spring

 The time for landing supersize bluegill is over for this season if you are a fly fisherman. I proved that statement to be true Wednesday when I made an afternoon trip to Walker Lake. I was using my Pelcian boat which is ideal for fishing this particular lake. No one on the water but a few individuals fishing for catfish and me. In other words, I had the place to myself. This time of year one can expect to land lots of hand-size gills and smaller which was exactly what eat my tiny poppers. 

Notice, the fish were hitting a variety of poppers and even one bass joined in on the activity. The 2 wt. is the ideal fly rod when fishing for this size fish. It was s great way to spend a couple of hours on a cloudy day. Next week I start my trout quest on the Sipsey---stay tune for a report.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Enjoying the Grandchildren

Time spent with family is always a plus especially if there are Grandchildren involved, which was the case for Cathey and me last week. While there we got to watch our two Grandsons play some flag football for ages 6 through 11. This is the first year for our youngest Grandson to play and he has really developed into one of the team's fastest backs. The older Grandson has also hit his stride this year in becoming the quarterback for his team and somewhat a leader. To say Cathey and I are proud of both boys is an understatement. We're also just as proud of their younger sister who is playing soccer and has scored a number of goals since joining her team. Sorry to say we have only seen her during practice sessions but hope to see her in-game mode soon. I thought I would share a couple of videos of the boy's games from last week. We hope to have some video of Laelyn soon. 

Bryson at quarterback, trying to execute a swing pass to one of his receivers which were covered, so he turns the play into a touchdown run. This is the last year he will play flag football. In the spring he will start contact play. I've told him to get ready for a new level of football once another player can tackle you!! 
Cash number 25 makes a long run with a few stunt moves as he scores a touchdown on this run. At this age, the rules are somewhat lenient considering the age of 5 and 6 years old. Notice his stance facing the quarterback, which could be seen as a giveaway as to who will get the ball. I hope I didn't bore you guys letting Pop and Meme show off their Grandchildren!!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Fall Bass Fishing


Fall is a great time of the year to fish for bass on your favorite lake. The species could be Largemouth, Smallmouth, or Spotted Bass. Jeff and I spent the morning casting surface poppers fishing for the Largemouth and Spotted Bass in areas around Duncan Bridge launch on Smith Lake. The weather was a little cool to start the morning but landing those first fish took the chill out. 

Nice spotted bass early fishing a wall near docks--Jeffs five weight got quite a workout landing this bass!

Always fish walls like this more than once, the first run rewarded Jeff with the bass in above image.

The next run produced this female spotted bass on a Barr Nunn popper, which made my 5 wt. sing. Sorry to say the third run told us to move on!

Guys this male largemouth is a late entry for this post that l landed last week fishing with Jeff on Ryan Creek near Smith Lake Dam. It was not in great condition, the largest part of this fish was its head. It was released to beef up for the winter. 

Not all rock walls on Smith will produce fish. The water depths on some walls are 60 to 70 feet deep. The best walls to concentrate on are the 15 to 25 foot depths which is where the bass were taken on this morning outing. I'm hoping to be back on the tailrace in a couple of weeks. October the 22nd will be the next trout stocking. In the meantime landing these epic fighting spotted bass will keep my fishing buddies and I busy.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The "Best Cast" Fly Line

 First off guys I'm no expert when it comes to fly lines. I do know when the fly line I'm using isn't performing to its potential. After doing the post on furled leaders; I thought, wouldn't be nice if I could find a fly line that was limp and had no memory like the furled leader I've started using. Enter the SF Best Cast fly line that can be described in a few sentences. First, this line has no memory at all and is as limp as the furled leader I'm using now. The ease of casting this line has really impressed me for distance casting and accuracy in placing the fly or popper I might be using. Also, this line doesn't tangle when you have line pulled off the reel getting ready for your next cast. I intend to have all my fly reels spooled with the Best Cast line by next season. 

Oh, I forgot to mention, the best part about this line is the price. It comes in 100 ft and 90 ft. length and is priced at 16.99 with free shipping at Amazon. I am using the dark green color instead of the bright yellow on a couple of my reels now. It comes in sizes 1 through 10 line wt. and has the welded loop on both ends.

This 2 lb spot put this line through the tangle test factor yesterday as I rushed to get him on the reel. No tangle line at all as this fish strips drag time and again. 

He nailed a Bullet Boogle Bug as I slowly moved it away from a rock ledge, fishing Brushy Creek on Smith Lake. The Spotted Bass were active early yesterday hitting a number of different poppers I cast their way.  

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Furled Leader

 How many of you guys have fly fishing accessories that lie useless for years in a drawer, box, or bag? While rambling through one of my many drawers of fly fishing stuff the other day I discovered this furled leader that I found. After researching my blog I discover I did a post concerning this leader fishing the Sipsey in 2016 but never used it that day. I thought as I examined the package that it would be a good replacement for my 4 weight mono leader I had been using for years. Once I buy a leader the first thing I do is replace the tippet end of the leader with a tippet ring. By doing that I can tie on tippet after tippet of 3 ft. or longer for a number of seasons. I applied the same procedure to this new furled leader.

A few false cast in the back yard convinced me that it was worth giving a try on the trip I had planned on Smith last Thursday. I was using the leader with my 4 weight 9 ft. Redington. My first cast using this leader showed me the difference in the mono leader I had been using for years versus the furled leader. I was impressed with the ease of casting especially in the wind that was occurring at times that morning. The info on the package indicated it was made with Uni-thread as opposed to the mono strands used to construct mono furled leaders. The mono furled leaders are much stiffer and retain memory. The Uni-thread gives the leader the ability to have no memory. In other words, no bend in your leader line. It cast accurate and landed lightly on the water. I also noticed that on my line pick-up from the water surface there is no spray water. My favorite characteristic of this leader is the no memory factor which reduces drag when fishing dries or nymphs. It floats quite well on the surface without sinking and affecting the action of the fly or popper. I read where one can add some floatant if they prefer. I'm still using it without floatant.  

After doing a little research on the leader I found they are made in 4, 5, 6, or 7 ft. lengths. The one I am using is a 6 ft. length with the tippet ring attached. This leader will last me the rest of the season and even into next season. I found no fly shops carrying these leaders because they are constructed most of the time by individuals and are not factory-made. I'm so impressed I'm already in the process of searching Ebay for more Uni-thread leaders. In fact, I will be using all furled leaders for the next season.  

They're still on the walls!!!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Meal Time

 The weather was picture perfect yesterday morning on Smith Lake if you were fly fishing. Those individuals fishing for striped bass, and largemouth bass were doing a lot of motoring. Which tells me they were searching for active fish. Jeff and I were the only ones fishing the rock walls. In fact, I've never seen anyone fishing the rock walls the way I fish these structures. 

The weather was perfect with a cool 68 degrees, overcast skies, smooth surface film, and "NO HUMIDITY" This type of weather in the deep south is unusual in August. One would think they were fishing in the Spring or early Fall. If you fly fish with poppers you want a silky-smooth surface for your surface flies or poppers to land on; most of the morning that was the case. Around 9:30 AM the boat traffic started and the bite slowed. One needs to make the most of the 3 to 4 hours you're given at daylight and beyond to land fish this time of year on Smith Lake!

 One of many bluegills taken off the walls using the 3 and 4 wt fly rods. Don't think you know what the fish will be hitting from one trip to the next. Last week the red poppers were working, this week the blue poppers were getting their attention. 

I am blessed as are all the guys that fished with me to have areas such as this to land the bluegill and spotted bass found lurking on these walls. This rock wall towers up at least 75 ft. which is a sight to see if you enjoy fishing this type of structure. The crystal clear water near its base is between 20 to 30 ft. deep this time of year. When the lake is full pool you can add another 5 to 10 ft. to that depth.  This one wall produced at least a half dozen meal size bluegill. Don't think one run on this wall has produced all the fish that is feeding there. On the sixth run, it was still producing fish. The only thing that stopped me from making a seventh run was the heavy boat traffic that sent us to the boat launch.
The results of Thursday's trip ending in me dressing 10 meal size gills that made the trip even more rewarding! Baked or deep-fried these fillets are special. 
Left-over fillets are delicious in a fish sandwich. Lettuce, tomatoes, pepper relish, Deion muster, two or three fillets and you have a hardy meal. The rewards of a fishing trip can always be topped off by enjoying the fresh catch of the day!!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Bryson, Laelyn and Cash

 This will be my first post using the new interface Blogger has converted to. I have been experimenting with the commands and found they are all the same as the old version with the exception of the interface layout. This new version makes it easier to convert your blog to book form which I am in the process of doing. It takes a tremendous amount of time to go through over 600 plus posts and gramma check each one before the post is submitted. I started this project back in January and worked for a couple of months. Work stopped in March which is the start of my fishing season so hopefully, I will get back on track in November. This project reminds me of my Ancestry work I started right after I retired, which took roughly two years. I hope this blog to book project is finished before two years. Landing those trout, spotted bass, and bluegill is more important than the blog to book project right now. 

I'm still spending my Tuesday's and Thursday's fishing the lake now and very little time on the Sipsey Tailrace because of the tremendous amount of generating that is taking place on Smith Lake.  The generation will slow down after Labor Day. Cathey and I always enjoy spending time with the grandchildren the following pictures were taken on their last visit. 

Bryson on a recent trip landing one the largest crappie he has ever landed

His sister Laelyn got in on the action as well!!

Bryson, Cash, and I hiked to the top of Rock Hill near their home in Springhill, Tennessee last week. The largest White Oak tree at the summit was the perfect place to get this photo.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Versatile Soft Hackle Fly

My last trip Fishing the Sipsey was on June 5th. dodging rain showers most of the morning. This past Wednesday I was met with heavy fog thanks to the tremendous amount of humidity we have been experiencing here in Alabama. If you live in the South expect the humidity in the summertime. I've said it time and again summer is not my favorite time of the year.
I made my first cast looking up the tailrace from above access 5. To my surprise, there were only a few fishermen casting above and below me. I usually tie on a particular fly pattern in the parking lot before I ever step into the water, but this morning I wanted to check out the surface activity before I selected a fly. The surface film was super smooth but still had enough current to attract a take. With no surface activity visible I went with a soft hackle thinking I might get a reaction, no such luck. I've found that size and color in the hackle pattern makes a difference when fishing a calm water surface. 
First of the morning in what seemed like a while to get a hit using a cream color hackle. I was using my 3 wt. Streamflex 9 ft. I knew the size trout that was stocked in the tailrace a couple of weeks ago; all were in the 9 to 10-inch range, so the 3 wt. was the right selection.  These trout were having nothing to do with anything above size 18 fly pattern this morning, at least that was my opinion. In order to get a hit, I had to work an area slowly and have a tremendous amount of patience using a small soft hackle. One needs every advantage available when fishing this tailrace, because of the tremendous amount of fishing pressure it gets,. I would land this trout's twin before moving on up towards access 6.
    Another Dale Hollow Hatchery trout taken letting a size 18 hackle drift slowly over a couple of pocket holes. I was using a 6X fluorocarbon tippet to get a better presentation of the fly. I started with a 5X but soon discovered I needed a lighter presentation because these trout spooked easy and had been bombarded with endless flies for the past 10 days. 
My last of the morning near access 6 fishing right below the fast water that exists in access 6. This trout was a whole over from the last stocking either in June or May. It barely broke the surface to inhale a tiny soft hackle. There are very few of these trout left above access 5 now. So when you land a quality trout now consider it a prize. This size was the norm for me dating back to my first trip here in April. I guess I've become somewhat spoiled landing this size trout as opposed to the smaller ones I landed today, but I shouldn't complain because the 9/10 inch was a lot of fun on the 3 wt. 
P.S. I was going to fish fast water today but it wasn't possible, because------next Sipsey Tailrace post

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Seeing Spots

As most of you have noticed summer is upon us and is producing some unusual hot temps. Fishing takes a hit this time of year if you're on the water during the hottest time of the day. Daylight or late evenings are the preferred time to wet a hook or fly. During this time of the year, I'm on the water from daylight to 10 AM. The water temps warm to a point where the better fish go deep to find cool temps more to their liking. In order to get a reaction from a Spotted Bass or a quality size bluegill on Smith during the heat days, you need to fish a popper that makes noise. Enter the size 4, 6, and 8 size Boogle Bug popper. 
The Electric Blue Boogle is a go-to popper when fishing at daylight on Smith
This area is one of my favorite walls to fish on Smith. I can still see a Spotted Bass blowing up on my popper here. Getting the popper as close as possible to the rocks is a must. A 9ft. fly rod in a 5 or 6 weight will place the popper within striking distance of the wall. 
As the sun comes up it is important to look for shady banks. The shade will produce a few hits but daylight is the optimum time to land a really quality spot fishing the popper. This male spot was a challenge for my 6 wt. 
I just had to film this beauty as he swims off to fight another day!
Guys, it's hard to beat landing these awesome fighters using a 5 or 6 weight fly rod. This female was taken inches off the rock wall in the background. The huge bull gills go deep this time of the year, leaving the hand-size gills to keep things interesting using the 3 wt. but the prizes are the spots.