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 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?