Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Sink Tip Poly Leader

 

If you fish long enough you may think you've learned everything there is to know about this great sport. There is always new gear, accessories, flies, and equipment to enhance the skills or catch ratio of any fisherman. Like many of you, I am willing to try a new fishing product if it improves my chances of landing fish. The Sink-Tip Poly Leader at Orvis is one of those products I purchased some months ago but never used until this past Tuesday. This is a sink-tip leader that can be used as an extension of your floating fly line. You simply loop to loop the leader to your fly line and you are good to cast. The leader has a monocore tip which I cut off and tied in a tippet ring instead so I could change my tippet much faster instead of using various knots to attach the tippet. Once you add two feet of tippet from the tippet ring you are fishing a leader about 9 ft. I choose the intermediate sink tip leader from the four sink tip leaders they sell. This leader sinks at a rate of 1 1/2 inches per second and by adding a bead-head nymph the tippet line is sinking close to the same rate as your sink tip leader. The Orvis link will give you a detailed description of all the Sink Tip Poly Leaders they sell. 
Jeff and I ended the season Tuesday fishing Ryan Creek on Smith Lake. I checked the forecast for Tuesday mainly for rain and didn't think of checking for wind. We arrived at the lake with wind gusts 10 to 15 mph and temps in the low forties. We knew the fishing was going to be slow and we had to find rock walls out of the wind. With that in mind, we proceeded up Ryan Creek in my Tracker Boat until we located the one wall suitable to fish. I found out years ago that there are two negative factors when fishing surface flies, wind and sun. We had the wind but not the sun. We were amazed we landed a few bluegills and smaller spotted bass with the surface temps at 65 degrees. The popper action ended almost as quickly as it started when peaks of sunlight penetrated through the cloud cover. With the surface action over for the morning, I knew what I was going to try, my sink tip poly leader rigged with a bead-head wooly bugger. I had been planning this trip for a couple of weeks. I even tried the sink-tip leader rigged with the wooly bugger in a small pond where Cathey and I walked. I was impressed with how easy it was to cast using my 5 weight Redington fly rod. In other words, I was sold after landing the largest Spotted Bass on Smith Lake this year. 

This pot-bellied female took me for a ride into the depths of Ryan Creek. I had my 5 wt. rigged with a  brown tensile wooly bugger which got her attention. I was casting the bugger as close to the rock walls and at times I would hit the wall with the head of the fly. My first fish on the bugger was a small rock bass, causing me to tell Jeff that at least one fish was interested in hitting it. As we moved slowly down the wall I continue to make shoot cast letting the excess line at my feet shoot through the guides of the rod. Once the fly made contact I started using different retrieves, in the form of short jerks, slow-moving retrieves, and at times letting the bugger drop and giving it a quick jerk. The slow drop and jerk motion is the retrieve that connected with the fish. 
I can't think of a better way to end my Smith Lake fishing season for this year. I've already started planning for Spring to arrive and land some more of these fantastic fighters on the fly rod. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Survival of Stocked Trout in Tailwaters

 


I received an email the other day from one of my fly fishing buddies concerning stocked rainbow trout in the Sipsey Tailrace that we fish. The email contained a study conducted by an Auburn University student in partial fulfillment for a Degree of Masters in Science. 

Hypolimnetic discharge waters (the layer of water in a thermally stratified lake that lies below the thermocline, is noncirculating, and remains perpetually cold)  from reservoirs in the southern U.S. provides water temperatures cold enough to support Rainbow Trout fisheries in regions where they otherwise could not exist. The Sipsey Fork tailwater in Alabama provides such an opportunity and is stocked with Rainbow Trout monthly. In a recent survey, less than 25% of the Rainbow Trout stocked each month were harvested and few trout appeared to persist in the system for more than 3-4 weeks. The objective of this study was to describe post-stocking dispersal and the fate of the non-harvested Rainbow Trout. In March, June, and October 2017, and January 2018, numerous Rainbow Trout were radio-tagged and tracked to document movement patterns and to determine longevity in the tailrace. Tagged Rainbow Trout had dispersed an average of 4.1 km or 2 .54 miles with only 30% of tagged Rainbow Trout remaining alive five weeks after stocking. The extent of predation on Rainbow Trout was assessed using a bioenergetics approach. Electrofishing surveys and diet analysis of predators identified Striped Bass as the primary predators of Rainbow Trout in the Sipsey Fork. Bioenergetics simulations revealed that approximately 500 Striped Bass living continuously in the tailwater from March through October could consume all Rainbow Trout stocked each month. Knowledge regarding the dispersal and fate of stocked Rainbow Trout in this system can improve the management of the fishery.


This study proves what a lot of us who fish the tailrace have known for some time that the Striped Bass consumes a large number of the trout once they move beyond the pump station. I have never seen Striped Bass above the pump station which is where a lot of the fly fishermen wade. All the guide trips take place above the pump station. There is less than a quarter of a mile of prime trout fishing from where the trout are released to the pump station. The rest of the tailrace is much too deep to wade. I feel the deep water below the pump station is where most all the trout are consumed by Striped Bass. 1100 to 1200 pounds of trout are released in the tailrace each month which could equal to 1000 trout or below depending on the size of the trout. Consider how many trout would be left in the quarter-mile wading section if trout were released every couple of months.

I respect the findings of this study but see little chance of reversing the effects the Striped Bass have on trout that is stocked in the Sipsey. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Bluegill, Start to Finish


The bluegill is probably the most common warm water fish caught throughout the United States. A lot of us started fishing as youngsters fishing for the bluegill. These fish will hit almost anything that moves in the water. I remember catching this fish as a boy fishing from the bank in our pond near our house. The first fish my grandchildren landed when they started fishing was the bluegill. Any size bluegill will produce a bend in the light fishing rod. The excitement on the face of a small child landing bluegill is priceless. I know I have witnessed that excitement. 

Bluegill and Crappie are the only fish I keep to dress for table fare. Both these fish are excellent to eat if they are dressed and prepared right. I'm not a fan of the so-called tried and true method of cleaning these fish. Scraping the scales off their sides and cutting their heads off is how we prepared them for the skillet years ago. My family and I thought they were delicious to eat at the time. 

It took years for me to discover that a filleted fish has a much better taste than a fish fried whole with the skin and bones. You eliminate the fishy taste when the skin and bones are removed from the fish. I filleted my first bluegill 45 years ago one afternoon on the back porch of my school Principals house, dressing bluegill we had landed that afternoon. The first fish I filleted on my own wasn't perfect but over time I mastered the process. 

This little Rapala 8" fillet knife is all one needs to fillet bluegill and crappie. The knife needs to be razor-sharp. A dull knife will not get the job done properly!
Both these beauties were taken off the rock walls on Smith Lake using the Boogle Bug poppers this past Thursday. A meal for two can be prepared from the meat taken from 5 or 6 bluegills this size.  
I created this video some time ago explaining exactly how to fillet quality-size bluegill. The same technique can be used on the crappie as well. 

The Receipt for delicious bluegill and crappie


Take all fillets and place in a pan with water and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of salt and stir until all the salt is dissolved into the fillets---let sit overnight in the frig--the salt removes all the blood from the fillets

Remove the fillets the next day and wash all the salt off the fillets

Spray a cookie sheet with pam and coat all the fillets with cornmeal mixed with lemon pepper, salt, and black pepper

Bake all the fillets on 450 in the oven and turn the fillets over in about ten minutes and continue to bake until done. The process of baking the fillets takes about 20 minutes or less. You want the fillets to be tender and not overly baked which will make them tuff.


For those of you who like the fillets fried use a fry daddy adding Crisco, or Coconut oil to fry the fillets until they are golden brown--remove the fillets and let set on a paper towel to drain the oil 

French fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies are all sides dishes that are delicious to eat with the fillets. Don't forget the tartar sauce and catsup---almost forgot a cold beer to top the meal off!!

Enjoy the meal!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Micro Swivel/Vanish Flourocarbon

 


This past Friday was another steller day fishing Smith Lake for bluegill and spotted bass. I was alternating between my 3, 4, and 5 weight fly rods. All the fly rods I use to fish the lake are nine feet medium to light action. I like to use 4X, 5X, and 6X weight leaders in 9 ft. and 7 1/2 ft. lengths. I always snip at least 24 to 30 inches of the tippet section off and add a micro swivel to the remaining leader. This tiny little swivel is a must when fishing surface flies and poppers. The swivel gives me the advantage of adding tippet to a leader that lasts me a couple of seasons. The swivel also keeps my tippet line from twisting, when casting different size popper. As soon as the tippet section reduces to 8 to 10 inches from changing poppers I tie on a new tippet line. By following this procedure I'm always fishing with a new tippet line. You may be thinking I am spending a bunch on tippet material; not so when I can buy 100-yard spools of Berkley Fluorocarbon Vanish 4lb. 6lb and 2lb. test line that will last me years. What impresses me about this line is its low memory and being super clear. The spooled Vanish line and the Micro Swivel are money savors for the fly fishermen on a budget and retired!

The orange Bea Popper is still the favorite of the bluegill and bass! I use the size 10 for bluegill and the size 8 for the bass. The next 5 to 6 weeks is prime topwater action on the lake using surface poppers.  Hopefully, I can make a trip happen soon on the tailrace. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Keepsakes

 A Keepsake can be defined according to Websters and Google as something kept in memory of the person who owned it or something kept as a memento. All of us have items in our possession that would qualify as a keepsake or memento. The older and longer an individual keeps the memento items the more valuable they seem to become to that person or persons. 

So you guys ask, where did this post originate from? As I was stringing my three fly rods for one of my early morning fishing trips the other afternoon, I couldn't help but admire the three flyrods/reel combos I had chosen for the early morning outing. It has taken me years to assemble the seven combos I own and all have special meaning. I can recall some of the fish I've brought to hand using each one.  All seven of my combos have met my needs for fly fishing and will continue to do so the rest of my fishing. This may be a bold statement, but I will never purchase any more fly rods or reels the rest of my fishing days. All are considered special in my mind, but the one that really stands out is the combo given as my retirement gift 15 years ago. I have mentioned this fly fishing combo numerous times on this blog. I am referring to my Streamflex 9 ft. 3 wt. paired with my Orvis 3 wt. fly reel.


This combo is truly a Keepsake that I treasure and I help it will stay in the family for many years.

Another Keepsake I treasure is the bone-handle Case hunting knife that my Dad purchased over 50 years ago. He never used the knife because he didn't want to damage it. Dad was a Case pocket knife guy and owned quite a few in his lifetime. My Mom gave the knife to me over 25 years ago. The sheath has seen some wear over the years but will still holster the blade and protect the handle.
Two written texts that I am glad I took the time to assemble are my  Ancestry research and my blog to book. Both have special meaning and will be shared with family members over the years.
All of you know what a big western fan I am and anything to do with the wild west interests me. Ten years ago,  my son gave me a solid bronze 8 lb. statue of a Sioux warrior in full battle dress. It sits proudly in our den and one day will sit in Jason's den.

Three years ago, I decided to give Jason a Christmas gift that he would keep for the rest of his days. His interest in fly fishing got me thinking about some unique streamers framed under glass. This is where my blogging buddy Alan at  Small Stream Reflections entered the picture. I wanted him to tie 15 streamers utilizing as many colors as possible in the streamer patterns.  Jason and I were amazed at the detailed work he did creating each streamer pattern. He is truly a master at the tying vice! This streamer picture is what one would consider a keepsake that will stay in the family for years to come. It has been hanging on Jason's bedroom wall at our house for the past three years. It will find a new home in Jason's house in Noverber, which is when his house will be ready to move in.  
All these Keepsakes or Mementos will hopefully stay in our families for many generations. I know all of you guys have mementos or keepsakes you value. What would you consider the top three or four items you would want to keep in your family?

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Blogger is Changing

I found out a couple of days ago about some of the changes occurring with Blogger. I started using Blogger back in 2010 and have never used any other means to publish my post. Yesterday was a shocker for me when I found out that I couldn't delete some of the blogs I follow that don't post anymore. If you go to the layout link in the dashboard and select the gadget "Blogs That I Follow" you will notice that it has changed. This new version only allows you to follow ten blogs. If you try to add more than 10 blogs none will display on your feature blog page. The following links will not work anymore from this gadget. The Snippet of most recent item, Thumbnail of most recent item and Date of the last update. The only way for me to see if you guys have submitted a new post is to click on your blog title to see you have submitted a new post. If you are using WordPress or some other blogger support service, those blogs will show the broken links I have mentioned above. With Blogger I don't have that option anymore. 


My wife told me this might be a blessing in that I don't follow as many bloggers as I use to. The 10 I selected to follow is about all that I communicate with these days. Still, these little changes that keep occurring with Blogger are annoying. It makes me wonder just how long Blogger will be around for those of us who use it as a means to share our posts.  

I was on the Blogger Forum yesterday communicating with bloggers who are having some of the same problems I am experiencing. A lot of the individuals were experiencing other issues. I am sharing a link that helps explains some of the changes occurring-----Blogger Hints


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Working Through Some Frustration

 


I'm glad summer with its 
humidity, rain, and heat is coming to an end. I got a feel of some early fall weather Friday morning as I launch my boat at the dam on Smith Lake. A light jacket felt good to be wearing as I motored to one of the many rock walls in Ryan Creek. Fall is some of the best times to fish the lake using a fly rod and popper. 

The closer you get the popper to the wall the better chance you have to get the hit. The heavy rains didn't affect the clarity of the water, making it easy for the bluegill and spotted bass to target the popper. 
The bass was not hitting anything on top and this one was the only one that hit the little popper. I am not complaining because anytime I can land quality bluegill using the 3 wt. I'm pleased!
The winner today in the popper category was the size 8 Orvis Bluegill Bug. I have mentioned how effective this little popper is before in a previous post, but today it outperformed anything I was casting. What makes this popper so special is its ability to go subsurface when moving it. Most all the hits today occurred when the tiny popper was submerged. I always select this popper when the fish are not responding to surface poppers and today was one of those mornings. 
What a great way to spend a cool early fall morning fishing some of my favorite rock walls on beautiful Smith Lake. All these beauties were taken using the little subsurface Bluegill Popper. 
32 fillets ready for the freezer to be enjoyed during the winter months. 

A little frustration, no a lot of frustration trying to maneuver a trout fishing trip on the Sipsey these days. I do have the option to fish on the weekend, but I'm not a fan of casting thirty feet from someone else above and below me. The weekends are the only time the generators are not running. I am grateful I have Smith Lake to fish during the drawdown. Today's trip help me work through my frustration----Hopefully, the drawdown will be complete by October.  

Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Color "Orange"


Orange, red, green, chartreuse, and white are all colors that are used when fishing poppers for bluegill and bass. One would think brown or black would be dominant colors fishing for warm water species, but not the case when trying to get a hit from weary bluegill or bass. The primary color of almost all insects that touch the water surface on Smith is black and brown, but I get many more hits using bright colors as opposed to the insect colors. 

The fish were hitting orange on Tuesday morning. I tried other colors which resulted in no hits. As soon as I tied on the Orange popper the bass jumped on it. This Spotted Bass came out of the water to inhale the orange popper. This fish was the second landed on the popper off the wall in the background. The first bass on this same wall was larger and broke me off while I was trying to get it on the drag. Never let your fly line get tangled up at your feet while you are trying to land a fish. How I wish I could have touched that fish I lost!!
The following are some more orange lovers. The bluegill sucked the popper into its gills; it would be my only good bluegill of the morning. The depths on most all the walls now are 10 to 20 ft. as the drawdown continues getting ready for the fall season. The lake is well below full pool during the fall and winter.  I kept wondering what bug the fish thought this popper was? All the Spotted Bass today were respectable giving my 3 wt. a workout!
Who needs a ruler when one can simply have it tattooed on your leg. I think I will pass on this tattoo. Tuesday was another fun day on beautiful Smith Lake!!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Awesome Flyfishing Video

 Guys, I'm going to make this post short and let the video do the talking. Amelia and Dave Jenson do a fantastic job filming some of the most scenic and informative fly fishing videos I have ever watched. I've been watching their videos for over a year now and look forward to everyone they film. Check out their latest it is one of their best!!   




Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Amnesia Popper Bug

 


Never think you know what the fish will hit from one day to the next. Looking in one's fly box will attest to that statement. I have flies and poppers in some of the fly boxes that I haven't used in a couple of years. But I still keep them thinking one day on a particular outing that special fly will be called upon to produce some takes. Such was the case on a special outing my son Jason and I made fishing Ryan Creek on beautiful Smith Lake this past week. I say special because Cathey and I had not seen him for a year and a half because of Covid. All three trips we made while he was here fishing the lake were special. Thursday's trip was his best because the popper he was using had not been used since early last year. This was a popper that was in one of my reserve fly boxes that had been on standby for over a year. Do I need any more flies or popper no? But I keep finding flies and poppers I think will be the ONE!! I have enough flies and poppers to last me the rest of my fishing days. So, Thursday's trip begins with a 4 AM wake-up alarm enabling us to leave the house at 4:30. We were on the water at 5 AM fishing on one of the epic rock walls before the sun came up. What makes this time so special aside from the bite, is the silk smooth water surface one encounters at this time of the morning on the lake. In other words, you make the most of what time you are given before the boat traffic takes over. 

The lighter the popper can touch the silk smooth surface film the better chance you have of attracting a bite. 
The first bass and bluegill of the morning that Jason landed. The popper that got all the attention from the bass and bluegill this day was the size 6 Amnesia Bug in pearly white. As stated in the intro this popper hasn't seen any action since early spring last year. Jason would land over 25 bass using this one popper for the 4 hour morning trip. I was using the smaller version and landed a third of his catch. 
This largemouth was taken off the wall behind Jason. The bass hit light making him think it was a large bluegill. As quick as it headed for deep water stripping drag he knew it had size. All larger bass here when hook will try to break off by finding a boulder and cover in deeper water. They seldom break the surface during the fight the depth dives are their strength! 
Another Largemouth landed to the right of the boat pier using the Amnesia Bug--one great popper when one is trying to imitate shad, which is the main diet of the bass on Smith. No surface fight in this video all the fight was down deep. This bass ended its fight in a depth of 52 ft. some distance from the rock wall. Next to this wall, there is a shelf depth of 20 ft. where the bass chase the shad close to the surface and inhale them as they try to make it to the wall for cover. Jason landed this fish using his 9 ft. Sage 4 wt. fast action fly rod----Jason and I are convinced if one wants to experience the ultimate fight from the largemouth and spotted bass on Smith one needs to use the fly rod. It takes skill to land these fish using a 5X tippet ---in other words, one doesn't rush the landing, because if you do you missed your chance to touch one of these great fighters!! 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Family Time

 

 This past week Cathey and I have been enjoying the company of our daughter and her children and our son Jason who is an RN in Sacramento. It has been a year and a half since we have seen Jason because of Covid. He is home for two weeks to help with the remodeling of his house and catch up on some fishing. 

We started our week fishing Smith Lake which is still well above full pool. Super clear water and lush greenery were a welcome sight. 
Jenny and Bryson fishing with crickets on Smith this past Wednesday; both landed some really nice bull bluegills fishing with  7 1/2 ft. ultra-light rods and reels.
Laelyn and Cash got in on the action Thursday fishing for catfish on Park Pond. Neither Cash or Laelyn would touch the catfish so Pops did the honors. They did a great job playing and landing both fish!! Bryson hit a milestone landing his first fish using his Redington 7 1/2 ft. 2 wt. Congrats Bryson, Laelyn, and Cash on a great outing fishing with Pops and Jason. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Tellico Hatchery trout--Fighters!!


The Sipsey Tailrace is one of many tailraces that depend on trout hatcheries for a supply of trout year-round. The two main hatcheries that release trout into the Sipsey are Dale Hollow Hatchery and Tellico Hatchery both located in Tennessee. Most of the time the trout arrive in great condition considering the distance from the hatchery and the tailrace. Sometimes some can be lost due to the oxygen content in the tank they are transferred in. Of the two hatcheries mentioned Tellico releases the largest and healthiest trout. Dale Hollow's trout are smaller and not as healthy as the Tellico trout. I was lucky to fish the Sipsey this past Friday the day after Tellico released 1100 pounds in the Sipsey Thursday afternoon. All the trout released were quality trout a challenge for any fly fishermen using a fly rod.
I like to fish the tailrace when it's super clear because you can spot the trout you are targeting and know exactly where to place your fly. Friday was the last day of a three-day wind blitz we had been experiencing, so I was wondering if the wind would be a factor. To my surprise, the wind was a plus, because the ripples created by the wind made it difficult for the trout to see you up close in some of the holes I fished. This particular run was very good to me for the morning outing. 
Dana one of my blogging and fly fishing buddies from Huntsville met me at the tailrace around 8:30. He is a member of theTennessee Valley Fly Fishers Club in Huntsville Alabama. He is also the editor of their monthly newsletter. So between fly fishing and reporting news from the club he stays busy. He had his best day fishing the Sipsey Friday. We both agreed as we were leaving and walking up the banks of the gorge that the trout were active this morning. Thanks, Dana for joining me on a successful trip for both of us!
This fatty rainbow was my first to get the morning started for me fishing an area I like to fish in clear water. I saw this trout moving back and forth in a tight run feeding. I noticed he was rising some and would settle back into his comfort zone. I tried a couple of nymphs trying to get him to commit to a hit but no luck. At times he would turn and move toward the nymph but no take. So after changing flies 4 times I finally hit on the nymph he took. What is so cool about tight lining is seeing the take and knowing you have only seconds to set the hook, otherwise you miss the trout. I am getting better at detecting the take as shown with this beauty taken on my 10 ft. 3 wt.---colorful gill plate on this trout. He put the 3 wt. through an unbelievable fight before he was netted. Gotta love it when a plan comes together!!
Another healthy Tellico rainbow landed fishing pocket water near access six. Every trout I landed this morning engaged the drag. I would have lost some of the trout today if not for my drag. A 5X tippet can easily be broken when this size trout charges in and out of rock beds fraying a tippet line quickly. 
Sorry for the reflection in the background, but I was trying to get the photo before this trout jetting off.  This trout was more of a fighter than any I landed for the morning. He made numerous runs before I netted him. 
Another Tellico beauty landed as I was waiting for Dana to catch up with me at access five. By the way access, 5 is the best way to leave the tailrace if you are a senior. Access 6 and 7 are for those young bucks to climb all those stairs upward to leave the gorge, not us seasoned guys! 
What a great way to spend a morning doing something that both of us love to do, landing numerous rainbow trout fishing on our favorite tailrace!!----------------tightlines!!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Rare Saturday Morning Fishing on The Sipsey

 Guys I've been trying to fish the Sipsey for weeks. Well, this morning I made a rare visit on a Saturday. I didn't get lonesome I had plenty of company. I was fishing my 10 ft. 3 wt. this morning tight-lining in places where others were not fishing. Anytime one can land a few trout on a beautiful morning without rain, tornados, and cold fronts is always a plus.!! 

If you haven't given the 10 ft. 3 wt a try it is worth a look. This stocker trout was quite a workout for the 10 ft. Netting the trout takes some adjustment when dealing with an extra foot in length. 
You all know how proud Cathey and I are of our grandchildren, well we feel like our oldest one Bryson is growing up too fast. He will graduate from the elementary school next week. Just seems like yesterday we were rocking him to sleep when he was a baby----makes us wonder sometimes how times zooms by!
I can't mention Bryson without mentioning Cash our youngest grandson. He is the number one player on his tag football team. He has a lot of speed for 6 years old. Laylyn, Pops hasn't forgotten you I will feature some of your tennis skills soon. 
Another rainbow landed today fishing deep in unknown waters on the Sipsey. Look for the 10 wt. to make an appearance on Smith Lake soon fighting some of those bull bluegills. This trout was a hoot to land on the 3 wt. 
I'm a big fan of wild fern in wetlands and shaded wooded areas. To duplicate the sound of a small stream with wild fern around it like Alan's fishes I decided I would created a little wetland near our front door. Alan, I can't fish this place but it reminds me of all those small streams all you guys have the pleasure to fish .  Tightlines!!