Look at the color of these Arizona Brown Trout! They are beautiful to look at and great fighting fish for their size.
On small streams go get yourself a 2 or 3 weight Fly Rod.
It is so much fun. You have to finesse these guys on very light tippets. Light gear teaches you the feel of landing a fish, do not be put off thinking you need a 5 weight or what ever.
I have landed great 18 to 22′ Trout on my 3 weight 7 ft Redington butter stick, Slow action Fly Rod.
And no I am not affiliated with them. Get the right light line and small light reel you will have a blast!!!
There is no better feeling of accomplishment than when you cast a light delicately landed dry fly.
Horton Creek AZ
Now for some perspective from a Fly Fisherman’s point of view, as to a hiker, hiking the well-defined trail.
If you check out online it will tell you it is a seven-point one mile round trip, not sure on this math, as when you get to the top of the trailhead it will proudly tell you it is a four miles return to the trailhead. The difficulty is two point five out of five. The elevation at the trail head starts at Five thousand four hundred and sixty-eight feet with an elevation gain of one thousand two hundred and twenty-two feet with a three and a half hour return trip on the trailhead.
Well, that sounds great! If you are a hiker, with proper hiking boots and all the correct gear.
The stream starts out underground for the first half mile or so, going underground in the limestone tunnels. Passing thru a gate you notice a few signs telling you it is catch and release, beautiful picture of a wild brown trout. The juices are starting to flow!! The path moves away to the left, you have to head into the tall grass, and there is the start of a small trickle.
I will put my point of view into perspective, as I am sure younger fishermen will find this easier than I did. I am sixty-four years old in reasonable shape but could use to lose Thirty pounds, so take reasonable with a pinch of salt! However the mind is a beautiful thing, and as we get older, age is just a number!!!
The stream to start off with is small with a lot of trees and bushes in the water, there are some small shallow pools, to begin with holding small trout. As you move further up, about a mile and a half you come across some beautiful waterfalls in a series one after the other with some nice holding water just below each one. I am sure they hold some nice size browns.
My problem was lady luck was not with me that day, as I turned around to find two gentlemen walking along the stream with their large dog who was having a great time in all the pools he came across. Splashing, running in and out, waiting on these two guys who stopped at each waterfall to take their pictures in each pool, regardless of this poor fool of a fisherman who obviously was fishing and trying to be quiet to catch these elusive browns.
I understand we share the planet, on the one hand, I wanted to say something to them but on the other, who really has the right of way! I figured I would wait back a bit and follow more slowly, but as it turned out the damage was done, and the fish had moved on. These guys stayed on the stream for a good couple of miles, so I am sure a lot of the fishing holes had been too disturbed for that day.
As I was on a fact-finding trip, having never fished here before I just studied the stream looking for potential spots for the future. As you move on up in the elevation, you will feel it, as the terrain along the river is very overgrown in places, and in others, you have to scramble up steep crumbling embankments. Then work your way thru bramble bushes, small pine trees and other fallen trees and logs.
After which, you have to work your way back to the stream to see what is in front of you and going upwards how you can get back on the stream. Often time you do this only to find the stream to be overgrown and no good fishable spots. At least from a fly fishing point of view. Of course, you can do the old bow and arrow cast, but you better be accurate, or you have just lost your flies.
I did find this one beautiful pool I came upon, crossing logs to see two big sixteen inch plus browns, just laying off the fast-moving water. No way to cast to them, so I tried a bow and arrow cast a couple of times, no interest! They just stayed there. I moved off the stream went much higher up, hid behind some bushes and then cast down on to them from way above, nothing, I then stripped past them turning one to look and off they went!!! Bummer!!!
At this point I was sweating like crazy and really feeling the elevation, if I was due to have a heart attack now was the time!!! On the other hand not having one I felt some hope for the future. The stream still holds a few good waterfalls and pools but they get increasingly harder to get too. About four and half hours into my slog along the stream, I came to a left-hand bend around a corner only to see the stream at least seventy yards higher up than I was standing!! Looking forward there was a serious of small falls one on top of the other. The stream at this point is probably only about five feet wide.
Time to find the trail. Moving up and off the stream, I came across the trail in a series of switchbacks going up the side of the hill. They say discretion is the better sign of valor and at this point, I was done. I passed this very fit young man, who was coming down, and asked him what happened at the top of the trail if it flattened out and how far was it?
He told me I had about five minutes left and I would come to the spring head in the side of a cliff. Well, Ok I guess since I am here I better take a look!!! Five minutes being the optimal words from a young fit guy, more like twenty minutes of a grueling climb!!!
The only thing left to do was hike to the spring head to see what had created this lovely little burbling brook. Eureka, there it was a hole in the wall with water gushing out who knew!!! I guess I better read up on these streams before I head out!
On reaching the end of the line, in this case, a hole in the rock face with this pure fresh spring water. I filled up my now empty water bottle, gulped down so much water, then refill for the hike back.
The journey up took me five hours of hard slogging thru the undergrowth, puffing and panting like a rabid dog!!! I did not know in the beginning how long the stream was or where it started. I had not thought about that. Now for the fun part, as I said the sign previously said four miles! O, Joy!!!
My wet wading boots are not that comfortable, to begin with, after five hours in and out of water, my feet were feeling it! Mind over matter! Trudge on, walking downhill after the slog up was even harder, talk about leg burn, reminded me of my old skiing days long gone!! The ends of my toes, killing me! You get the idea.
So to sum up my day, I did catch four very small brown trout and I mean small!
The walk up the stream was well worth the slog up and over all the fallen trees and logs. I have a good understanding now of where to fish. With my new knowledge, I will only probably fish the first three miles, but you never know as I always feel that monster is just up ahead of me!!! The other thing to be aware of is the hikers, better to go there on a week day, not the weekend. The car park at the bottom was full, so I should have been warned!!! Seven plus miles on the trail not sure how much extra distance added up going up and down, back and forth over all the logs, etc.; When I got home I needed a hot shower to loosen up my back and legs. Better luck next time.
Oak Creek Canyon, back after a six-week hiatus, the monsoon season has started, and the water levels are beginning to rise. Great news!!! The water is still super clear no color to it yet.
I was lucky to get invited to fish with two young guns, whom I meet via different Fly Fishing Groups on Facebook. They were kind enough to welcome an old guy to go with them. I love the fact that they wanted to meet up there at six thirty in the morning. Bear in mind, it is two hour plus drive from Phoenix.
Up at Four am, out the door, driving up no AC on. As I approached Sedona, it was only Sixty-Six degrees Fahrenheit, beautiful!! To all that live in colder climates, you probably think I am nuts enjoying the cooler weather. However, here in Phoenix in the middle of summer, it has been in the Hundred and Eight and higher Fahrenheit. So any chance of cooler temps is much appreciated this time of year!
We meet at Bootlegger which is about eight miles North of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon. Setting off we fished a few pools and some ripples getting separated. Later in the day, I got a phone call from Kris asking me where I was and did I want to go down to one of their fishing holes with them. Absolutely!! At that point, they had both caught two small browns, and I had missed one and landed a small brown on a nymph, we meet back at the cars, and after a two-minute drive, we were at the new spot.
They were in a hurry to get down to the stream which is nestled in the bottom of the canyon walls, so off they went lickety-split! A couple of seconds later they asked me if I was Ok to scramble down a small cliff face!! Now if I were on my own, I would have looked for a better route! But I sure as hell was not going to let these guys down and be a pussy!! Even though I like cats!!! If you get my drift! In fairness, this was not the Eiger in the Himalayas’
Scrambling, sliding in full battledress, fly fishing vest, wet wading boots, wading stick and the bloody Fly Rod, which at this point in time decided that it would have to do battle with every shrub, bush, rock, and trees just to make my life more miserable!!
Dignified it was not, the young bucks who had descended in one second flat looked up, I ‘m sure thinking if he falls and breaks his neck that is going to f…!!!!!! Up the rest of our fishing time.
The old Eagle landed, a bit ruffled jumped up and off we go, follow the leader through the bushes along the stream to some beautiful deep pools, with fast flowing water at the head and slowing down into deeper water.
The guys took off to different parts, and I was left to wonder what my next plan of attack would be. The water looked pretty deep, so I decided to use a grasshopper as an indicator with a red colored nymph about four foot down, then another three foot down a caddis nymph.
Casting up into the faster-moving current letting it drift down into the slower water. Took a nice rainbow.
I was standing on a ledge that ran along the pool trying to blend into the rocks. I had on a light tan shirt which blended well with the brown and red rocks. Later in the day fished some shallower ripples with the dry and caddis as a dropper landed two more small browns.
I finished about one thirty in the afternoon, the young bucks left about two hours before me. Great Day!
Dog Days of Summer Canyon Creek AZ
When the going gets tough, the tough get going!!! Marie Mc Clean, Frank Schettino and I left early out of a sweltering Phoenix for the cooler climates of Canyon Creek, for some of its allusive Browns.
We had had a report from one of our club members, that the water was shallow. The upper part of the lower Canyon Creek had a lot of watercress and weeds, which had grown into some of the large pools. Being the optimistic Fly guys and girls, we are, off we went.
For armed is forward! It was a day of hard fishing, changing up flies, different rig combinations to hunt these guys down. Both of my friends are now into fly tying, and of course, they had to share their latest creations with me that was guaranteed to catch fish. I have to admit they were great looking flies, I felt really guilty of losing them during the day! The upshot was, a lot of walking flies in trees, bushes, weeds you name it, we covered it. The weather was thundering with dark monsoon clouds hovering around, humidity was picking up, but the good news, no lightening, and no rain!!
This was a day to enjoy the country and hunker down into some serious stealth mod, longer casts as the fish were very spooky. The water is so clear it was hard for us to remain in concealment. Marie was fishing about a hundred yards above me when I heard this little squeal, not sure how to describe the noise, I knew it was not wildlife!!! It was, in fact, Marie’s war cry for fish on. I managed to scramble up and get a picture of her wrestling this guy in on her seven foot, three or four weight rod. She is the champion!!!
After that excitement back to casting and hoping!! I saw a lot of trout that day, managed with my skill to miss five strikes, all on the surface chasing down my grasshopper. I had bought a crossover between a beetle and not sure what other bug combination it was, but it looked tasty to me! Tying on to the line only to discover that when I cast out I could not see it, the black color with the glare on the water just killed my vision, I will have to use in different circumstances next time.
It’s not that I did not have my chances. I did, one particular pool with a little waterfall at the head of the pool, the first cast I missed a nice trout, second cast same thing. I fished that pool hard, changing up to different flies, waiting, coming back later, and no dice. It was as if the fish were saying you had your chances now bugger off!!!! We are having a siesta.
Not to be outdone I trudged higher up into some dense foliage beating my way into the small protected stream only to get beaten up by the bushes.
Time to head back. I came across the guys in their truck they had come up looking for me. It was about three in the afternoon, and I was feeling pretty beat up! Marie was smiling away. I said Ok do you guys want to leave now! Marie what? There is plenty of daylight left, let move to another part of the stream and try our luck!!! Man, I thought I was bad she is the queen of water time!!!!
We moved down the stream and off we went, I was pushing thru some bushes when I felt a bite on my arm. Looking down I was covered in giant black ants, that had just found their dinner, Me!!!
Vest off, and I did the jungle dance, flapping my arms, jumping up and down, beating the hell out of them. Marie looked on as if I had finally lost my mind. Pointing out my assailants all over me she looked at the bushes and pointed out to that they were covered in ants, and off she walked, no big deal, in fact, I am sure she was thinking if she had any flies that resembled these ants to try on the water!!!
Finally, it was getting too dark to see the flies we all were casting and also still no fish rises at almost dark, for sure there should have been some activity?
Time to get back to the trucks, get some coffee and drive home, a long day on the stream, few fish but a great day none the less, Dog days of summer!
Lake Cuyamaca outside San Diego in the foothills, elevation four thousand six hundred feet approx on the road to Julian.
It is a reservoir built in Eighteen eighty-eight. Around One hundred and ten acres in size. The lake is stocked with all warm water fish alongside rainbows. It is an easy drive to get away from it all. The drive up is very scenic with rolling hills and long meadows.
Your imagination can run wild, seeing the Calvary on horseback, single file with the Indians watching and planning their attack on the Whiteman. It is that type of scenery or maybe Ponderosa with Horse sitting in the saddle pondering his life on the plains, you get the drift!
On arrival, you must get a ticket from the bait shop to fish and park, eight dollars. That does not include a days fishing permit that you can get online for Sixteen dollars.
The bait shop staff are amiable, but nod and smile when you mention fly fishing as if you are out of your mind. It is all about bait fishing, renting canoes and paddle boats for the day.
The water was a very dirty brown, choppy surface and difficult to cast due to the wind. I started the day using a strike indicator with a prince nymph and green weenie. Moving the indicator up and down to verify the depth, trying to find the fish. No luck, plan B move into the weeds to find some sheltered water on the surface from the wind.
That is when it got interesting, wading in weeds with a sticky, muddy bottom wearing flip-flops, not a good combination. I tried bare feet but too many stones and sharp objects ready to puncture my feet.
When I stood and cast for a few minutes I would sink and get stuck, then it was a battle to free yourself, not easy! The wild Canadian geese have taken over the shoreline with all the corresponding poop, feathers, and foul smells!! In my mind forget about all the nasty bugs floating around my legs and concentrate on stripping my flies.
A small black wooly bugger stripped very fast if it sank too quickly you were stuck in the weeds under the water. The key was looking for some clear patches in amongst the top weeds. The water was so dirty you really could only see for different shades in the watercolor to determine the way.
I caught a small Crappie in the weeds, and later a rainbow out in the deeper water on one of my longer casts in between gusts.
After about four hours on the water, the smells overcame me, it was time to end the day.
My next venture lake fishing, will be to go up high in the Sierra Nevada mountains and find those wild trout that roam those pristine high mountain lakes.
Ten days of battling the wind and very choppy conditions, using only a Five weight Fly Rod with floating line. I am retreating from the battlefield, slightly scarred and very wind burnt.
A few small fish, spooked plenty on the shoreline, enjoyed the beaches and sunsets.
I have had so much great input from all my Fly Fishing acquaintances from various groups on Facebook, that I have no excuses.
I am a beaten man!!
When I return to the battlefield, I will be equipped with the proper weapons. Probably an Eight weight rod with sinking line, Stripping basket and all the other goodies I might need.
Till then I lick my wounds, knowing I gave it a good try!