Friday, January 19, 2024

The Most Realistic Nymphs Ever!!

 These nymphs have to be the most realistic nymphs I have ever seen. I ordered both patterns. I can't wait to give them a try on the Sipsey and Smith Lake. 

The bodies of these nymphs are hard body and have weight. 
 

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Fly Fishing the Streamer on Lakes

 


Guys, I hope everyone is getting into the Christmas Spirit. I was scanning through my blog the other day, viewing past posts. March was when my fishing season always started, which is 70 to 75 days from today. Mid-March is when the spawn begins for the spotted bass on Smith Lake. They start moving into the lake's nooks. Unlike largemouth, the spotted bass usually spawns in water 4 to 6 feet deep. They are in the mood to hit almost any lure this time of year because they have been dormant during winter. The streamer is my favorite fly to toss during the early spawn, moving it with a slow drop-retrieve and waiting for that savage hit to occur! I feel I'm not the only fisherman counting the days to feel the tug of that first fish on the popper, nymph, dry fly, or streamer. 
Here's wishing everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Looking Forward to Spring

 The coming months are considered a slowdown in my fishing trips, especially on the lake. Lucky for me, I don't live in the frigid Northeast or out West. Hats off to any of you guys who brave the elements to wet a fly in the streams or rivers in that part of the country. Here, 30 degrees is considered super cold. So, I will occasionally visit the tailrace to land a few rainbows and keep abreast of the latest fly fishing news compliments of the internet.   

I have been following a couple, Torin and Paige Rouse, who are walking across America, all fifty states. Their travels are being done in loops, which will take two and a half years. Their first loop started in Chillicothe, Missouri their home state, traveling west into Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. They made their way into Alabama on Monday starting their next loop into Florida, then Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and farther northward. If you would like to join me as a follower of their website   Walking America Couple

This couple makes me wish I was young again! 


One of my recent trips to Smith Lake with my son, Jason, is still fresh in my memory. The trip occurred in June when the water temperature was 70 degrees. Jason landed this 12" plus spotted bass using his Streamflex 4 wt. 9ft. flyrod. The drag on his Gloomis fly reel engaged several times while landing the bass.  


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Time Lost

 I'm back after missing the month of September without submitting a post. Cathey and I have been busy with our Grandchildren and helping our son finish work on his house in Birmingham. This has been the longest time for me to go without fishing in the fall. One of my fishing partners decided a while back that he was getting too old to fly fish anymore, so that was another setback in my days fishing on the lake. I hope to find another fly fishing partner for next season. There are only so many fly-fishing guys located in Jasper, Alabama. I am glad Jason came home last week, which allowed me to catch up on fishing at Smith Lake. 

We managed to land a couple of Spotted Bass fishing the rock wall in the background using a couple of streamer patterns. The crawfish and the bluegill streamers were the patterns the bass were hitting using a slow-motion retrieve. The hits were light and not as aggressive as in the Spring. The water temp has cooled to 70 degrees, which accounts for the slower takes. 
The Fall colors are starting to take shape on the lake. It was good to be out on the water and feel the tug of a fish on the streamers. During this time of the year, the pull-down is on, meaning the lake is now at its lowest of the season. 
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We were surprised when I got this largemouth bass to soft-hit my boggle bug popper. We kept thinking we would get a take on the top before we left, and this bass proved us right! A great way to end the afternoon! 


Friday, August 25, 2023

A Seasoned Fly Fisherman


Why do some fly fishermen land more fish than other individuals on the water? 


Over the years, I've taught my daughter, son, and grandchildren how to fish using the fly rod and fishing reels. I realized it was much easier for them to learn to use the traditional reel/combos than the fly rod. My only child who has mastered the fly rod was my son Jason. My daughter never had the patience to learn to use the fly rod. She is excellent at using the spinning reel but not the fly rod. I am still teaching my oldest grandson how to cast using the fly rod and how to manage the line and land a fish when using the fly rod. The time and patience involved in learning to use the fly rod is why I see very few individuals fly fishing on the tailrace. Most trout on the tailrace is taken using the spinning reel with live bait. I've never seen anyone using a fly rod on Smith Lake but me and the three guys I fish with there. I've learned once you've master using the fly rod, you are hooked for life.

I taught a couple of the guys I fish with how to use the fly rod, and yes, that is the only method of fishing for them now. I feel liking what you are doing is the number one characteristic that makes individuals stand out from the rest of the crowd, whether it's fly fishing or any other activity. Aside from liking fly fishing, other characteristics make a great fly fisherman stand out. You may have read their books and watched some of their videos. Some of the most famous are Lefty Krch, Joe Humphreys, still fishing at 94, and Tom Rosenbaucr. These are seasoned fly fishermen, and there are thousands more. The following list below are the characteristics I feel one needs to achieve to become a seasoned fly fisherman.

Side Note: I create most of my posts while sitting on our back porch enjoying my afternoon cup of coffee; this post was one of them.


Casting Proficiency: Mastering the different fly casting techniques is crucial. Most fly fishermen use the Roll Cast, Back Cast, Low Side Cast, and Bow and Arrow Cast as their main ones. A skilled fly fisherman can accurately and delicately place a fly or small popper on the water surface, initiating a natural insect as if it fell off a tree limb near the bank of a stream or at a lake's edge. You will know when you make this cast work to perfection for you! 


Knowledge of Fish Behavior: An understanding of fish behavior, habitat, and feeding patterns of the fish you are pursuing is essential. To drive this point home, I know that the daylight hours are my prime time to land fish, whether in Spring, Summer, or Fall.


Fly Selection: A good fly fisherman can select the correct fly pattern or popper color based on the insect activity. Matching the hatch is a key aspect of having a successful fly-fishing outing. 


Observation Skills: Paying attention to the water's surface, identifying rises, and observing insect activity are essential for fishing a river, small stream, tailrace, or lake. 


Patience and Persistence: Fly fishing involves patience and persistence; understand that fly fishing is not landing one fish after another. The only time that might happen is if you are sitting near a bluegill spawning bed. Know you have to put in the time and effort to catch fish even when they are not biting. I discussed this statement in my last post, 

"The Slow Bite on Smith Lake"


Knot Tying: One must know how to tie at least two to three knots. A strong knot is necessary to attach the fly to the tippet and to attach the tippet to the leader securely. The tippet ring has eliminated tying the tippet to the leader for most fly fishermen. The clinch, loop knot, and double clinch are my favorites. 


Knowledge of Equipment: You need to understand the different types of fly rods, reels, lines, and leaders, which will help you choose the right gear for various fishing situations.


Water Readings: When I first started fly fishing, I threw caution to the wind and would cast anywhere on the water. As each year passed, I became more familiar with spotting eddies, riffles and pools, and underwater structures. These were my most productive spots on streams, tail races, rivers, and lakes. 


Adaptability: I've found conditions on the water can change fast, as stated in one of my previous posts, "Fluctuating Water Conditions." During periods of a slow bite, I may vary flies, poppers, and nymphs several times. If one tactic is not working, I try something else. Don't get locked in on one fly pattern or tactic!


Stay Positive: I've mentioned this in my previous posts; assume that every fly or popper touching the water's surface will produce a take. 


Learning Mindset: Fly fishing is vast and continually evolving, which motivates me to learn new techniques, discover new waters, and improve my skills as a fly fisherman. I realize I will only know some things there is to learn about fly fishing, but that's what makes the sport so much fun. 


Sunday, August 13, 2023

The Slow Bite on Smith Lake

  The most challenging time to fish Smith Lake is after July 4th and into late September. During those two and half months, the lake goes into a "Pull-Down Mode," meaning the generators run daily and off on weekends. The goal for the heavy generation during these months is to get the lake below the 500 mark sometime during September and ready for the Spring rains the following year. Three factors affect the fish bite during this time, extreme heat causing the surface water to heat over 80 degrees, lots of generating, which effects the water levels on the lake, and erratic barometer readings. As stated in one of my previous posts, the lack of boats launching at the dam during daylight will prove my point: THE FISH ARE NOT BITING, so what does one do to entice a hit from a sluggish bass or bluegill? Go tiny, with poppers and subsurface flies, and fish at a slower pace. Stay positive and know you could get a hit on every cast, and eventually, you will get a swirl or slap at your fly or maybe a take to keep your attention span on track. During this time of year, the fish may not be as hungry as you think, so they inspect your fly more than inhale it. The surface water temps at 80 and above will eliminate that explosive hit you will see in the Spring and Fall. During this time of year, the hits are very light, which causes one to miss fish, because the fish didn't hook themselves well enough to stay connected during the fight. I've lost more fish during this time of the year than any other time I fish. Frustrating, but at least I am making a connection with a fish. 

These two spotted bass taken on size 12 tiny poppers sum up the daylight trip. I had many slaps and swirls at the poppers, which is something I expect this time of year. Both bass sucked the poppers under with little surface movement. I never take a hit for granted during this time of year. I'm hoping for more productive trips the closer it gets to October.

Side Note: The trout fishing below the dam is as bad as the lake. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Fishing Lakes With Fluctuating Water Levels

My last post dealt with how barometic pressure effects fishing on large and small lakes. Today I will discuss another factor affecting fishing on large and small lakes: fluctuating water levels due to generation. If I had to chose which element I would deal with when fishing it would be the barometic pressure. When dealing with barometric pressure, you are only concerned with the high or low barometer reading. When fishing at receding water levels one needs to be aware of the following things---how fast the water is falling--if one or two generators are running at the dam--don't fish close to where the generators are running---realize the fish will move to deeper water when the lake is receding---feeding habits of fish change when lake levels are decreasing ---recognize reducing water levels expose fish habitats such as wood structure, boulders, and weed areas where fish feed-----and last know that the bite will be much slower during receding water levels becasue the bait fish will relocate----the key to a successful fishing trip during heavy generations on any lake is to locate the bait fish where the larger fish may be feeding. Finding the bait fish in low-water situations is easier said than done even with the advanced sonar tecnhnology available today, especially if you are fishing a lake covering thousands of areas. Receding lake levels on any lake is unlike fishing in the Spring when there is no generation and lake levels are stable. One can catch fish during low water periods, but fewer than in the Spring. This past Tuesday was a prime example of fishing Smith when the generators were running, and there was a steady drop in the water level. 

 Nice bass on the cream Double Barrel; Jason was using his five-wt. Streamflex 9 ft.-----A super dose of patience was needed on this trip this past week because of the generation at the dam. This trip will be Jason's last to make with me until October. He will be going back to work in California.
                                                                                  

This Spotted Bass nailed a tiny Orvis white bluegill bug early morning. It challenged my three-weight Streamflex 9 ft. fly rod. The drag was spinning. I've found that during generation the bass prefer smaller poppers instead of the larger ones I fish most of the time. I was hoping Jason and I could land enough bluegill for a meal, but the bluegill didn't bite. I landed only one for the morning. They go deep along the rock walls during the pull-down of the lake. During the draw-down, the fish will slap at the poppers instead of hitting them at times. They are mostly annoyed with its presence in the area they call home. Jason's bass and my bass were the only two taken for the morning. 

One needs to take note of the number of boats launched at the dam early morning. A few boats launched will let you know the bite will be slow; it's a challenge, which makes me keep coming back; I'm already looking forward to Fall when the lake stabilizes. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

My New Fish Attractor

I've broken a promise I made at the beginning of this fishing season not to buy any more warm water poppers, and trout flies this year. I've got enough poppers and trout flies to last me years. One of the reasons I have so many poppers is me using them until they litterly come apart, meaning no hackle. Trout flies are much cheaper than poppers. I can buy trout flies for as little as .84 each. Compare that price to your cheapest popper starting at 3.00 to an expensive 8.00; then it causes me to make that popper last as long as it catches fish. 


Now to the heart of this post; The Surface Seducer Double Barrel Popper. This popper is different from your ordinary surface popper. What makes the popper stand out from all the poppers I have used over the years is its unique body design. The Double Barrel has a soft foam epoxy body that will not chip or break loose from the hook. It also has all the hackle buried deep inside the body of the popper, keeping it in place. The hackle on cork poppers will usually come unraveled over time because of savage hits or removing the popper from the mouth of the fish. The Double Barrel will stand up to both the hits and hook removal. 

Double Barrel poppers come in various colors, but the cream color is the best. The color imitates the shad that the bass feed on. It resembles another popper I've told you about over the years. Regarding design and durability, it is a step above all cork material poppers I have ever used fly fishing.  


I didn't discover this popper. Jeff, one of my fly fishing buddies, started fishing this popper for the spotted bass with me on Smith Lake in April. He was landing bass working the popper with off-and-on aggressive jerks; bass was nailing it!! He couldn't remember where he purchased the popper, and as luck would have it, he had only one of the poppers. So I decided to fish something else that morning in the form of the closure minnow. I landed numerous bass using the closure, but the majority of the bass was taken on the Double Barrel by Jeff. After that trip, you would think I would order a few, but I decided the poppers I was fishing would land fish like his new popper. So I continued to fish my overstocked supply of cork poppers. It took a few more trips to convince me to purchase the Double Barrel for eight bucks each. I hate to pay that much for a popper, but I knew it was worth the price so promise broken. I ordered four before Jason returned home to fish with me for a few weeks this month. To make the rest of this post short; Jason made good use of the poppers I ordered, as you can see in the images below. 


Even the bluegill would hit the popper. One quality largemouth and spotted bass were the morning winners, along with numerous twelve-inch and under bass. This popper is fantastic but couldn't muster hits as the sun overtook the shaded areas we were fishing. Now if someone could create a fly or popper that would attract hits in the sun and wind all day, they could make a bundle. They would need a patent on their discovery for sure! Rest assured; you will see more posts concerning the success of the Double Barrel!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Euro Nymphing---Trail and Error

I did a post in March involving Euro Nymphing and had some success with the new technique that day, but I left the tailrace knowing I needed to spend more time on Euro Nymphing's casting and hook-setting phase. I am still learning to use the cast effectively and how to detect a hit from the trout. For those who haven't tried Euro Nymphing, it can take some time to master. One can land trout using the method when traditional fly casting isn't producing. 

As stated many times by me, the Sipsey Tailrace is battered to death with every fly and live bait on the market to catch a trout. So I switched to the Euro Nymphing method to improve my odds of landing more trout on the pressured tailrace. So far, it has worked to the point that I can connect with a trout but not bring the fish to the net; in other words, I am losing too many trout, especially on yesterday's trip. Detecting the hit is the problem, and not getting a good hook set. The online class I watched on Utube showed setting the hook using an upward movement of the fly rod. The hook point drives through the top of the trout's mouth when using that hook-set method. I hope this hook-set method improves my catch ratio. Breaking an old habit of setting the hook in a side motion frustrates me. I need to slap my face every time I miss a trout by using the side motion hook-set. I am too much of a perfectionist when fly fishing is involved!

 This trout was my lone trout for the morning after many missed hits. At least I didn't get skunked! I landed this trout in one of the numerous pocket holes I fish. There was enough current to move the nymph without me forcing it to move. I have learned Euro Nymphing is much easier to master when fishing in current.
The length of the quarter-mile stretch was heavy fog and thick humidity as I entered the bottom of the gorge. Lots of moss-covered rocks in the shallow runs, making it a challenge to wade. I didn't take a chance of falling even with my wading staff in this broad run.
I wanted to share a picture of Hallie Mae, who is ten months old. She has stayed with Cathey and me this past week while her parents, brothers, and sisters are on the bench in Florida. She is getting frustrated trying to learn to crawl. Hopefully, she will be crawling all over the place before the fourth of July. We didn't let her cry at all, and before the week was out, she had Meme and Pops trained well!
Hope all you Dad's have a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Importance of Baromator Reading When Fishing

 One of my favorite times of the day is my afternoon coffee time spent in the swing on our back porch. While sitting there, I can watch the different species of birds that visit my bird feeders and listen to the rambling sound of my two rock fountains nearby. The birds feed freely at the feeders 10 to 12 feet from the swing. It's a time to reflect on the weeks events, from various chores to fishing trips on Tuesday's and Thursday's. 

Sitting here this afternoon, I wondered why Jason and I didn't land fish at daylight this morning. We were fishing in some of the familiar places I fish, but there was no activity at all. Even the streamer couldn't arouse an interest in a hit. As the morning wore on, I started eliminating the two main negative factors that keep fish from hitting: high barometric pressure and cool fronts. The positive factors that make this lake one of the best in the south were there which are water quality, excellent oxygen levels due to the heavy boat traffic, an abundance of bait fish in the form of shad, and tiny freshwater shrimp in the creviisis of the underwater rock formations through out the lake and last lots of structure; so what was the problem? Two hours into our trip and no fish to show for our effort. On mornings like we were experiencing one must be willing to change flies, color poppers, line tippet, and rod weights to cast lighter flies. Patience is essential in weather you land fish or go home skunked. Luckily for both of us, the fish decided to turn on about an hour before we left at 10 AM. Why did the fish turn on for about an hour? We figured the barometric pressure had risen and the air temp had warm some. The barometric pressure was the main factor. I used to have a baromator years ago but lost it. Rest assured; I will be replacing the one I lost. 

The lake was super clear making it a must to fish a greater distance from the banks. Overcast skies helped at times to keep the fish from seeing the boat.
After a long dry spell, this Spotted Bass inhaled a blue Boogle Bug popper, the first fish of the morning for me. The male bass would be the only bass I would land for the morning. It made me aware of its 16-inch length. 
Jason' Spotted Bass would be the only one he would touch for the morning shortly after I landed my bass. A white Boogle Bug popper got the attention of the bass. Cathey and I were glad  Jason got to spend a few weeks with us and was able to work in a couple of fishing trips on Smith Lake! 
Landing the Spotted Bass 

We landed a number of super size bluegills that would produce a nice meal. 
The wool shirt tells you it was still cool when Jason hooked this gill using his new Greys Streamflex 4-wt. Fly rod. Greys Streamflex fly rods are manufactured in Alnwick, England. The Greys Streamflex is one of the lightness fly rods I've fished with, and the best part is it is priced reasonably at 375.00
Surprisingly we notice this Barn Owl in this cave area on one of the rock wall banks we were fishing. Jason was surprised he got to take the picture that close. 
It flew to the other side of the cave as we got closer. Jason thinks it would be nesting somewhere near one of the ledges on the cave wall. 
Finally, it had enough of our company so, it took flight and flew across the lake. Seeing the Barn Owl was a first for both of us, which made us realize that sometimes there are other ways to enjoy a day on the lake. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Fly Fishing in The Wind

 I've often said that the two worse enemies of a fly fisherman are the sun and the wind. That is one of the reasons why I like to fish during the daylight hours and on into the mid-morning. Once you have fished all the shaded areas, getting a hit, especially on top, becomes difficult. If you are dealing with wind, don't bother to fish dries or poppers, but you can fish subsurface flies such as nymphs and streamers, which I used on the Sipsey Tailrace this morning. As I entered the gorge, I noticed a slight breeze and a feeling of being lonesome, " I WAS THE ONLY FLY FISHERMAN THERE!" A first for me, which gave me my choice of which pocket holes I would try first. 

This trout was the first I landed in one of the pocket holes above the steps at Access 6. Notice I am wearing gloves now; most of the time, I am on the water. I have had two small cancerous growths removed from both hands this year. All those years in the sun have caught up with me. My gloves were wet because I didn't want to handle a trout with a dry glove. The gill plate and fins on this trout had some color, unusual for a stock trout. 

I always fish the Sipsey now using a wading staff because of this type of surface one encounters when fishing here. 
I had 30 minutes by myself before guys started showing up to join me. I would see five other individuals fishing before I left. This stretch of surface rock can be challenging to navigate because of the slim covered surface of the stones. One misstep, and you fall. I have seen guys take a fall because they get in a hurry trying to move from one spot to the next. 

When I landed this trout, the wind had started blowing so hard I almost lost my hat; the hat strip had saved it from blowing across the tailrace. I was to the point I would wait for a pause in the 20 mph wind gust and make a cast, and even then, I had difficulty placing the nymph. 

I arrived at eight and left by ten. I found the parking lot empty when I walk back to my truck. I kept telling myself I would land a few more trout, but it would not happen. The wind had taken over and killed the bite for the morning. 


Guys, I can't end this post without showing you a few video clips of Bryson, our oldest Grandson playing in last Sunday's Flag Football game. 
His team and his Brother Cash's team will be in the playoffs next Sunday, so guess where Pops
 and Meme will be?
Cash finding an open receiver and throwing a touchdown pass--great footwork and concentration!  

Monday, April 17, 2023

Fishing the Clouser Minnow

Jeff and I started the morning with five of our six combos rigged with different size poppers ready to fish the nook areas of Ryan Creek on Smith Lake. I committed last season to use the streamer much more this year, so I had my 6-wt nine ft. rigged to cast streamers. 

I landed the first bass of the morning close to the launch, near some floating boat piers. The female nailed a blue Boggle Bug popper. This would be the only bass I would land for the rest of the morning on a popper. 

The lake was half a foot above the full pool, which is 510. I've often said that every minute counts when you are fishing daylight hours on Smith. Why? Because the bite shuts down around 11 O'clock, especially if you are fishing on top. 


After the top action slowed, it was time for me to give a few of my streamers a try. I started with Devil Dog streamer, then the Crawfish, and finally, the trusted Clouser Silver Minnow. The winner of the three was the Clouser Minnow. I wanted the bass to hit the Devil Dog and the Crawfish streamers because of the attraction feature, but sometimes the fish know more about what they like to eat than you do. 


The Clouser streamer I was using was the three-inch version with the barbell eyes and an ample supply of bucktail, giving it the added weight to sink faster. I used my 5/6 Gloomis reel loaded with a bass bug fly line, which helps cast a weighted streamer easier than a standard fly line. I also added a nine ft. intermediate sink-tip leader to aid in getting the streamer down. 

I like this version of the Clouser because it has a significant amount of bucktail. All Clouser Minnow streamers are unlike the original in 1987, tied by Bob Clouser. In other words, there are many variations of the Clouser in size and color today. 
My first Spotted Bass of the morning that inhaled the Clouser at a depth of eight feet. All the bites occurred at least 6 to 8 ft. from the banks. The hit on the streamer varied most of the morning. Some of the Bass would nip hit, and some would make me think I hook the streamer on brush or rock; regardless of the feel, I set the hook. 
This fatty hit the Clouser on a point entering into a nook area. This female put up quite a fight. 

This bass was my best streamer catch of the morning. This fish made numerous runs trying to break free of the size 2 Clouser hook. I was glad I was using my six-wt; otherwise, I could have lost this fish. Little did I know I would get broken off on my next encounter with another bass and lose my only Clouser Streamer! 

I didn't land another bass the rest of the morning, showing me that once you find a fly pattern that produces, have more than one ready to replace it. Rest assured; I will tie on the Clouser when the top action slows now! 

I will be using Field Edge Handmade Clouser Silver Minnows on my next outing. You can check out their website by clicking on the link on my blog.