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!!

I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that I'm in the process of converting my blog to a book. Not for sale but for family and friends to share in the coming years. In doing this some of the posts in my blog will not show. Only the post that will be in the book will show. I'm hoping to finish the editing my the end of November and everything will be back to normal after then. You may not notice any difference in the blog at all but I thought I would let you know if someone is trying to view a particular post that they might remember from the past.    

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 600 plus posts and gramma check each one before the post is submitted. I started this project back in January and worked 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. The following images show why being retired is so rewarding if you have a hobby like fishing. 

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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Elusive 9 Foot 3 Weight Fly Rod

I've been on a quest for the last couple of days in search of a 9 ft. 3 weight fly rod for a fly fishing buddy of mine. While searching for this fly rod I've found that it's an extremely rare fly rod. Sure one can find a few of these rods in the 800.00 to 1000.00 dollar mark, but for the average fly fisherman, a more reasonable price would be two to three hundred bucks. Even that price might seem a little over the top, but most fly fishermen will pay that for the quality. I know I would be one of them!
What makes this fly rod so special? First and foremost is the fact that it is graphite, extremely lightweight with medium-fast action; perfect for distance casting, and delivering a dry fly or tiny popper feather-light on the surface film. In other words, you want your fly or popper to imitate a small insect dropping from a tree limb onto the surface of the water. This particular fly rod has the features to do that. The extra length gives you the ability to be much more accurate with your presentation. How do I know that this fly rod possesses all the characteristics I have stated because I've been fishing with one for the past 14 years? I have written a few posts over the years on this blog about my Greys Streamflex FX2 9 ft. 3 weight. 
In my search yesterday I found out that this Streamflex is no longer sold through Greys website. So I better take care of the one I fish with. I also found an Echo 9 ft. 3 weight priced at 230.00 which is no longer made. The only 9 ft. 3 weight I found available was the Redington Crux, which is priced at 325,00 total with free shipping. I fish Redington fly rods and know how special these rods are. 325 is a little pricy for me but if I break my Streamflex this may be the flyrod I will purchase. 
It is amazing to me why fly rod manufacturers don't know how well these fly rods would sell. It makes one wonder if any market research has been done on this particular fly rod. Orvis one of the largest fly fishing companies in the nation told me yesterday that they don't carry a 9 ft. 3 weight fly rod? Those of us who own this"rare" fly rod, better whole on to them, because they will increase in value over the years. I know I could sell my Streamflex on Ebay today and get what I paid for it and maybe even more! -----not going to happen!!!
If any of you guys find this fly rod at a reasonable price please leave a comment. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Landing a Hugh Spotted Bass

I never landed a Spotted Bass until Cathey and I moved to Jasper Alabama. I had caught a bunch of Largemouth Bass in Mississippi, with a few Smallmouth sprinkled in. I thought both species were respectable fighters until I encountered my first Spotted Bass on Smith Lake using my fly rod. Landing a couple pound or better Spotted Bass using a 4/5 weight fly rod is a challenge for the angler especially if you rush landing the fish. Smith Lake is loaded with Spotted Bass, in fact, the state record is an 8 pound 15 ounce caught in 1978. The record still stands today. 
First Spotted Bass Tuesday morning fishing a Barr Nunn popper. The popper was supposed to attract a big bull bluegill, but this bass got to the popper first. I was using my 4 weight Redington fly rod. All my fishing trips on Smith involve the 3, 4, 5, or 6 weight fly rods. I am interchanging fly rods all morning sometimes when certain color poppers are not producing. The best time to land fish using the popper on Smith is at daylight and any shaded areas on the rock walls before 10AM. After the sun hits the walls the bite is over. All my trips usually last about 4 hours. 
  The spawn is over for this moon cycle causing the big gills to move to the rock walls until the next spawning cycle. These bluegills in the cooler prove to be a worthy opponent on the 3 or 4 weight. I usually leave the lake with 8 or 10 bluegills that are fillet and baked in the oven. 
These big bluegills inhale the popper like a vacuum cleaner. Most poppers are in no condition to use after three or four of these fish hit it. Getting the popper out of their mouth even with forceps can be a challenge. 
Every once in a while I get a hit from a nice bass and Tuesday morning was one of those mornings.  I got a chance to test my skill landing a 3 pound 14 ounce female Spotted Bass in excellent condition. She nailed a Barr Nunn Aqua color popper intended again for a big bluegill. The hit had me thinking I had hooked a bluegill but after the first surge stripping drag into deep water, I 
knew better. The fight to bring this fish to the net took close to 5 minutes. I'm glad I had one of my fishing buddies with me to net the fish. I used side pressure left and right to try to tire the fish but she kept stripping drag on every run in the deep drop off from the down timbers near the bank. 
 The long fight was attributed to the fact I was using my 4 weight. I truly believe if I had not got the fish on the reel as quick I did I would still be wondering how large it was. This was the largest Spotted Bass I've ever landed using the fly rod. What made it so special for me was landing it on a lightweight fly rod.  

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Family Time

This past weekend was our family's annual pontoon boat trip to Smith Lake. All were present except Jason our son who was working at Roseville Hospital in Calfornia. He is on our minds daily because he and the other hospital personal are treating the many coronavirus patience they see every day. He made the trip with us last year. Hopefully, this virus will be under control by next spring so he can make next year's trip. 
Very little fishing was done on this outing because we wanted to gear the trip for the kids. 
Float tubes pulled behind a ski boat or pontoon boat is a favorite for everyone on the lake. The kids and Dad had a blast riding the wakes made by the pontoon boat and other boats. 
Laelyn landed this bass using crickets but was not having anything to do with releasing it. Big brother, Bryson helped her out with the release. Cash was having nothing to do when the little fish he landed. In fact, he didn't want to even get close to his fish!
 
Cathey and I have lived in Jasper for over 35 years and had never been to Natural Bridge Park, which is about 30 minutes from where we live. The family spent the better part of 3 hours walking the park trail and viewing some awesome rock formations. The kids were really fascinated with the rock bridge, bear scrape, and all the rock hideouts. There was no need for face masks because there were only a few hikers on the trail. Let's hope this virus is over soon and we can all get back to a normal life. 
   

Friday, June 5, 2020

Dodging the Rain Showers

This post today was supposed to be about a recent bluegill fishing trip on Smith. Scattered rain showers have put a dent in my bluegill quest today, so the Sipsey was the choice. I can deal with the rain on the tailrace much better than I can on the lake. A little hooded rain jacket is perfect on a rainy day when fishing the Sipsey. I didn't make it to the tailrace today at my usual time of 5:30, but instead at 9 o'clock. I was met with a huge crowd, I counted 15 vehicles all lined up along the road. I almost didn't bother to suit up but I was there, so I might as well join the crowd.  
 First of the morning, with an exposed gill plate. I have landed trout with this gill plate deformity before. It didn't affect its fight. 
A fatty that nailed one of the nymphs I was using in the log jams fishing deep. At times I added a little weight to get the nymph down to where the trout were holding. 
Another quality rainbow landed in and around structure. Notice my free spool Gloomis fly reel; the best of all the fly reels I own. In fact, I just purchased another one on Ebay a couple of weeks ago. 
I considered myself lucky today landing the number of trout that touched my hands for the morning; considering the number of fishermen on the water. It seems there are many more individuals fishing the Sipsey this year as opposed to years past. I wonder if the increased traffic comes from the virus causing more people to be outside more? 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Avoiding the Crowd

I wanted to take a break from my bluegill fishing from last week so I worked in a quick outing on the Sipsey. A good number of fishermen were on the water, which made me think that access 7 would be less crowded. This was the week before Labor Day Weekend, on a Friday and not a good time to fish the Sipsey. I knew they were going to stock the place on the following Thursday right before the holiday weekend. So I was going to try to beat the crowd. Most all fisherman know when they stock this place.  
Just above access 7 close to the dam, there is one guy out of camera range, close to where they release the trout. I was surprised to find no one near the steps at 7.  
One to hand right after I got in place. All the trout that are stocked in the Sipsey are extremely healthy.
Keep an eye on the indicator--after filming and landing this trout I got my trout fix for the morning. I enjoyed the fight as much as this trout did!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Landing Quality Size Bluegill

My first trip this year on Smith Lake fishing for early spawning bluegill was memorable. Our first moon of May was 10 days ago. Three days before and three days after a full moon is one the best times in early spring to fish for spawning bluegill. Of course, this will vary in different parts of the country. Not all big bluegill will be found on the first spawn and will wait until the second spawn in June. On Smith Lake, one can expect to land 3 to 5 big bluegills in one area nook in water 10 to 12 ft. deep. Fishing in this depth for bluegill using a popper requires one to let the fly set motionless for a short period of time before the big gill will try to kill it. I've never landed more than 5 in one spawning area on Smith. This was the case this past Thursday, where I fished over a dozen areas in the back of nooks on Ryan Creek to land the 8 big gills I brought home to dress for a meal. I landed a lot of small bluegill in the same areas which were released to fight another day.
I used a couple of poppers today to get the attention of these nice gills. Early the blue Boogle Bug was the popper which got hits and on up in the morning the white Bar Nunn worked much better. Color does make a difference when fishing for the bluegill. I thought a number of times that had some of the spotted bass on when landing these bluegills. The fight was strong and lots of fun fishing with my 9 ft. 4 wt.