Sunday, May 27, 2018

One Fish Can Make a Fishing Trip

I was fishing Smith Lake with one of my fishing buddies this past Thursday. Cloudy skies, very little wind and a heavy dose of humidity greeted us as we launched my Pro 170 Bass Tracker. This is my fourth Bass Tracker I’ve purchased throughout my fishing career and will be my last. The boat is the perfect size to maneuver the small sloughs I fly fish on the lake.

My first choice for today’s trip was the Sipsey Tailrace. I knew with the overcast skies the trout would be feeding on top, but Mike wanted to fish the lake for largemouth. We were fishing the back of some of the sloughs trying to locate spawning bluegills. It was a slow morning with both of us landing a few fish, me fishing my fly rod and Mike fishing his spin cast/combo. As we were leaving I decided to fish one of my favorite rock walls in Ryan Creek. I knew big bluegill hang out near the edges of the walls in Smith after the spawn to feed on the small fresh water shrimp.
After landing a few small gills near the edges of the wall using the Barr Nunn popper; I connected with what I thought was a good bluegill stationed inches away from the edge of the wall. The fish didn’t take the popper aggressively like the big bluegills I catch. It did swim fast to deep water as all the fish I land from the walls do, which caused me to take up slack line at a feverish pace. After getting the fish on the reel the drag started to sing and then I knew this was a bigger fish and maybe not a bluegill but a big spot. After playing the fish and getting it within viewing distance in the super clear water I knew I had a super size gill. As I lifted the bluegill in the boat I told Mike that he might be the largest bluegill I’d ever landed using the fly rod. I seldom take a picture with fish I catch but Mike convinced me that this fish was worth the mug shot. The bluegill nailed the popper in water 30 ft. deep and made a run for freedom in water 55 ft. deep. I know this fish was not in the spawning mode, because of the depth he was in. No fish were kept today and that included my prize catch. I released him not only for his heroic fight but because of his size and colorful markings. He was worthy of the quest count, which puts me 17 away from my goal. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Bluegill Bonanza Fishing the Caddis

I had my phone set for 5 AM Tuesday to make my first bluegill fishing trip on Smith Lake this year. After eating a bowl of cheerios, oatmeal and some fruit I made it out the door. Tuesday’s forecast was cloudy skies and chance of rain in the afternoon and through the night; my kind of forecast fishing before a front.
My plan was to search and find bluegill spawning in as many sloughs as I could before the heat and humidity force me to leave. My first slough had numerous gills and one redeye native bass but not the big bulls I was searching for. The bass and female gills were killing the Caddis!!!
After fishing through five more sloughs I finally made a connection on my 7th slough. Three of kind here using the Foam Butt Caddis; my five weight was the perfect combo to land these bulls.
Unreal fight put forth by this gill, which left a few fibers of the Caddis sticking out of its mouth. During the spawn the male bluegill will attack anything that comes close to the beds.This bluegill was spawning in super clear water 11 ft. deep. It is unusual to find anymore than 5 or 6 bluegills spawning in the back of any of the sloughs on Smith. With over 500 miles of shoreline the fish are spread thin.
I continued to fish the back of nooks that I thought bluegills would spawn in. I seldom find them in the same sloughs year after year spawning. All the fish I found today were in new spawning waters. A lot of fish brought to hand today with these five worthy of the quest and the frying pan. I'm now 18 away from the finish! 


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fishing Fast Moving Water

My daylight fishing trip this week on Tuesday, May 8, fell through so the Sipsey Tailrace was my second choice, which proved to be the best choice. Here in Alabama we are finally getting those warmer days with some humidity mixed in. That is what Sam and I encountered Tuesday, a warm comfortable day with clear blue skies and a slight breeze in the gorge. Sam is the college student I met as I was suiting up. He told me he had never fished the tailrace; so I offered to let him fish along with me for the 4 to 5 hours we had to fish before the generators were turned on. I’m glad the trout were active and he got to experience landing a bunch of trout using his 6 weight and my 3 weight. He told me after we completed the trip that his next fly rod purchase would be a 3 weight.
One of many rainbow trout Sam landed before we left the gorge that afternoon; notice the two fly rods.
Reverting back to the title of this post, I showed Sam how to fish in fast moving water today. We fished some of the fast runs that I had fished before. The key to attracting a take when fishing water this fast is no drag at all. Some of the runs can be 10 ft. to 30 ft. long or more. I like to fish all the runs here standing where the fast water begins and letting the nymph float though the run as I release fly line to keep the nymph drag free. The current is going sink your indicator a lot in the form of false takes but the reward is when you connect with a true trout take. The lesson here is never take you eyes off your indicator when fishing any fast moving runs. I landed numbers of trout today in runs that was no wider than 2 ft. and as shallow as 2 to 3 ft. deep. I lost a lot of trout today because I had to play the trout back to my position at the start of the fast water. If I had waded to the trout to land them, then I would have scared the rest of the very trout I was fishing for. So to give me a landing advantage on my next trip I will be using my 4 weight to add a little more muscle to steer the trout to my net. The wading staff is a must when navigating the current to get into position to drift your nymph.
  Colorful gill plate on this bow; I remember hooking this trout at least 30 ft. down the run from where I was standing. It went airborne several times before I netted it.

What a fitting way to end the trip on this great tailrace today. We are blessed here in Alabama to have a place like the Sip to land rainbow trout!!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Quest Begins

I finally get to fish between the heavy rains we have been experiencing here in Alabama. What a great day to start my bluegill quest for this season. The temps were in the seventies with the water temp reading 65 which is on the verge of the spawn. Some of the big gills were on the move and staking out areas close to cover in water four to five feet deep just off the shaded banks.
My first nice bull of the morning was taken hugging the shaded bank in the brush pile. The Black Gant got its attention. I’m glad I was using my 9 ft. 4 wt. otherwise I would’ve had trouble landing it.
I felt like the top image could grace the wall of any den, with its lush green canopy of trees lining the banks of this nook. RFD's FlyBox Foam Butt Caddis would get a savage hit on the other side of the sunken tree; again shade and cover was the ally for this nice gill. I thought I had found the honey hole, but again the fish were not bunch to spawn; one fish and keep casting. 
I would end the day landing numerous small bluegills and this fighter on my 3 weight. I feel good about actually accomplishing this year’s quest, because I’m back on my home waters; 23 away from the finish.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Another Productive Day on the Sip!!

Believe me when I tell you guys that today’s visit to the Sipsey was special not only for the trout catch, but to meet these two young fly fishermen. They were headed down the tailrace to fish the really deep sections. I hope they had success, it please me to see the youngsters with fly rod in hand.
My first cast and my first trout that was to be one of many that I would touch on a cloudy overcast day. The two hour trip consisted of casting nymphs early and closing out the trip with the Gnat. Sorry guys for the bad image; I'm a work in progress when it comes to camera work.
One of the things I love about this place besides landing the trout are all the handy rock stools. They are positioned up and down the gouge for; let’s say the “seasoned fly fisherman.”
Overcast skies, a slight breeze out of the west and a huge rain front in the forecast for Thursday morning told me to wet a fly on the Sipsey today.  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Fishing the Micro Light Spinning Rod

The blooming of the Dogwood Trees are always the sign that the crappie have begin to spawn here in the Deep South. I’ve been noticing the Dogwood buds but no bloom yet. That didn’t keep me from joining one of my fishing buddies the other day to test the waters for some slab crappie.
My 7 ½ ft. micro light spinning rod paired with the Pflueger President XT spinning reel is perfect to handle big crappie. I’m using 4 lb. test vanish line with a small curly tail shad jig to duplicate small minnows. The balance of this rod makes it effortless to cast for distance and accuracy. Using the micro light combo parallels the light 7 ½ to 8 ft. fly rods.
The dark male crappie is one beautiful fish in the early spring.  All the crappie today was landed using the micro. I had the 4 wt. fly rod with me but the wind was too strong to get a dissent case in place; in other words, my patience worn thin dealing with the gust coming from all directions.
The in results, using my new fish cleaning table from Bass Pro Shops; these ten beauties yielded 40 mouth watering fillets.