Walk on the wild side in the Arizona Mountains

Went for a walk on the wild side, Az mountains. Marc and I spent the day social distancing so we did not take the pictures of the big brown he caught as I was a few runs up and did not hear his calls for help with the net!!!
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Took him five minutes to bring in.
Still we both caught some small browns and rainbows me on a black and silver size 20 midge deep,
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Marc the ninja dry fly caster, on a small blue olive, one he literally caught as the fly landed, the brown slurped it down. Nice 12 ” he missed another bigger one that took a look and then turned off it!!
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I lost 2 nice browns that took my tarantula fly that i had weighted to get down deeper with a trailing midge. Had them on in fast current, both turned quickly in the moving water and i gave them some slack. With bar-bless flies that is all they needed, off they went. Still cool to see them take the fly and feel the weight thinking what might have been!
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we had to climb into some of the pools, later walking back down stream saw some muddy parts on the trail thinking to myself that looks slippery!!! Yep slippery it was down i went but I did not break my rod, saved that and also stopped from sliding into the creek!! Felt a bit foolish but what the hell if you don’t get out there, no fun!!

Well yesterday went to a nice little stream in the high country,

Well yesterday went to a nice little stream in the high country,away from the maddening crowds!! Landed a nice rainbow, lost another one, the big disappointment was a wild brown at least 17″ plus lost at the net!!! All these fish took a size 20 black with silver thread midge, dead drifted under an indicator deep. I had a semi leech above black and purple but no takes on that fly.
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It is correct to say a lot of places are closed but only on the camp grounds, toilets, main entrances etc” I know a lot of people are going to be up in arms but before you do. I went alone on my own. I parked in an out of the way place, most do not know of. I walked in for many miles on my own!! Even the Bears were quite.
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I fished on my lonesome not a soul about or in sight. I drove home all on one tank of case. I packed my own food in and took all out.
I did not shiiiii in the woods! no need!
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However on my way home HWY 87 was closed, I could not get back to Phoenix. I was in line and then we were directed to turn around and head back to the high country. I did not talk to anyone the police were at least 50 yards away and my windows  were all up.
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There is a silver lining in this as i had to take Hwy 188 to Roosevelt Lake a beautiful drive the lake is 97% full so the west end has many trees and bushes in it perfect for Bass or Carp, it looked so fishy!!! The inflow from Tonto and the other rim streams coming in from the North West looked in good flow. There is good fishing on this I am told, as you go higher up you get into Hellsgate wilderness which has some great browns and rainbows at higher elevation but it is very rugged, do not go alone!!!
Went across the dam only to find Hwy 88 closed to rock slide so ended up driving almost to Globe to take 60 West back to Phoenix. A two hour drive home turned into five hours. I kept my sanity getting out into the wilds just had to go!!
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Carp on a Fly

Carp on the Salt River AZ. I know they are there I have seen them many times, never had any luck catching them.

Yesterday afternoon I decide to go to the Salt as they had the day before changed the flows yet again! From 100 to 600 cubic feet per second. A day had gone by so maybe the fish had settle down!

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I went to the famous blue pool at the top end I could see trout at all different levels in the water column but they were not active. I tried all kinds of techniques I did get two hits but immediately these savvy guys threw the hooks.

I always fish barbless, i feel it give the fish a better chance and makes me a better fisherman having to hone my skills! All fair and square!

During this barren time another fly guy came on the river a little higher up than me, we soon kind of ended up fishing closer together and talking about how good the fishing had been this last month. Talking about different set up, flies and places on the river we had done well.

I was fishing for the second time only my new E bay special, recently I had snapped off the tip on my 4 wt fly rod. It was in for repairs. I just happened to spot an 8 ft 4 wt with one hour left for bid with no bids. I put a cheap bid in and low and behold I was the proud owner of a brand-new St Croix 4-piece fly rod for $80.00 delivered to my door.

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As we were yakking it up, I was fly fishing in close, really high sticking an indicator with a leech and on the bottom a yellow and red egg, bouncing along or close to the bottom. Not really paying attention as we were talking sets up to each other, when my rod just exploded in my hands. Fish on and a big fish on, off he went, straight across the river straight down to my backing. My rod was bent from the handle all the way up almost in a circle!!!!

I figured I had on a big Sonoran Sucker as there are plenty of them in this run.

I had no control over this fish he would run I would run along the sand banks in water trying to keep him under some kind of control. The bait guys lower down had to reel in as he was running along the channels, they were in. People stopped and watch. Time went on people stopped watching, taking too long!!!

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I did not see the fish for the first 20 minutes or so he was so deep and running. I had on a 5 x tippet and with the 4 wt rod i just tried to not snap the line.

About 40 minutes in i finally saw a large shape with some bronze color a big Sonora sucker i thought, maybe fowl hooked? as he was always head away from me and I could not turn him. Eventually and this is no exaggeration i got him in close and yes off he went again. Twenty minutes later I brought him really close to see this carp, it took me another 5 minutes or so to wrestle him to the net without breaking the line. Finally, in the net and my new friend took a few photos.

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I know there are bigger carp in there, but what a fight this guy put up. Don’t under estimate these fish on light gear it is all you can handle a great experience and end to the day

Fly Fishing the San Juan River New Mexico in February 2020

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Over twenty-four Guides from Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona get together for a fly-fishing bonanza once a year, for fun and to exchange stories and fly-fishing experiences.

I was lucky enough to be invited to this gathering. My friend Dave and I arrived at Twelve lunchtime after leaving Phoenix at Five am! The guys from Arizona all arrived at the same time we all launched our boats for a late float down the river. Many of the other guides had arrived earlier, some launching their boats and other wading the Braids and further up the river to the dam.

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The weather was bright and warm, with water flow around three hundred and eighty cubic feet per second, water was clear to murky. As it turned out that day, the river did not want to give up its gold, with fishing for all concerned difficult. Some caught up to five fish others nothing, myself at the end of the day on a late run decided to put on a chartreuse-colored egg. I remembered from one of my previous trips on this particular stretch late in the day it had been effective! Bingo one nice small brown trout on one drift thru!!! At least I was not skunked!!!

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That evening we all met up at the lodge for dinner and great conversation. Long day, I think everyone was tired, so we all left and hit the beds relatively early—the plan to be launching on Texas hole no later than eight am.

The next day we all split up again some in boats others wading. The weather was beautiful bright, and clear. Again, we all worked hard with much the same results, a very mixed bag. However, one bright spot for us on the top end of Texas hole was to watch a guy wading in very shallow water across from us land what was reported to be a Thirty-Seven-inch brown!!!! It took him a while to bring in.

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All I can say was that he had a big net, and this fish-filled it out; it was so thick it was a real pig. There were plenty of people around all taking photos, so it was well documented! The fish happily swam away from the madding crowd. Back to the boat, it was a difficult day with the same results as the day before. I landed four fish for over ten hours of fishing all rainbows. Back at dinner all the same results as the previous day, except for Brittany from Colorado. She killed it!!! Rumer was around thirty fish for the day.

So, you can imagine all these guys at the dinner table!!! Questions, question?? What fly worked for you??? It turns out Brittany had tied her particular fly. After much humor, she gave in and showed the fly to all. We all took photos!!! That night in my room, three guys were trying to create the new fly, they did not have the exact color materials, but they came close. I am sorry to say I am sworn to secrecy and will not divulge the fly pattern!!!

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Now the next day, we were expecting a storm to come in late in the day, we awoke to some cloud cover forming and a drop in temperature. Dave and I were the first boat in Texas hole, so we rowed up to the left side dropped anchor just down from the strong flow running in from the braids. Great piece of water, very fishy!!! I left on my rig from the night before to see what would happen. I had on a size twenty-four chocolate emerger with my chartreuse egg below that. I rigged my flies with the weights below the bottom fly to get down deep in the flowing water. My leader was at least ten-foot-deep to the bottom fly, as where I was casting the water was deep.

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A few drifts in my indicator disappeared, nice rainbow on!! A few fish more, and I said to Dave, who is just getting back into Fly tying, to give me one of the new creations that he was trying to make of the super-secret fly!! He will be the first to admit it was a bit motley to be kind, but to me, it looked fishy!!!!

A few drifts later, we were high fiving each other laughing that a new fly tier has been created, it worked, nice rainbow on!!!!! No stopping him now!!!

Karma is a strange bedfellow, for at that moment the hatch turned on there were trout rising all over the place. Dave took a seine net ran thru the water, we looked at the bug life, the net had tiny black larvae which were floating on the surface, Tiny!!!!

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We decided to put on Big Hoppers, the bigger, the better to be able to see, as there was so much current turbulence and shadows flitting over the surface in the sun out of sun. Then rain and wind and more rain coming down it would be hard to see any fly. I put on a black bling midge size twenty-four, ten inches behind the hopper. Looked just like the larva we saw in the seine net! Dave put of a size twenty-four RS 2 emerger Black about eighteen inches behind his hopper.

The river gave back to us as we just hit gold. The strikes were swift, we both caught rainbows one after the other, but both missed a lot of strikes, they were very sneaky, all the trout we caught were just hooked in the upper lip. The hatch stayed all day, and we decided not to move as it was hitting on all cylinders. Your all going to think we were on good drugs as we stopped counting after thirty plus fish each!!! No kidding, it was wild. We fished there all day; towards the end, my arm was starting to ache I had thrown so many casts from eight in the morning to after five in the afternoon with no breaks to speak of.

The San Juan at its best Dry fly fishing that you dream about. A few bigger rainbows even inhaled the big Hoppers. They hit them hard, taking well into their mouth. We saw plenty of trout coming vertically out of the water into the air at least two feet before splashing back in.

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On the odd occasion seeing a big old boat surface, you know when you see a big back and hump as the fish slurps the surface only to disappear into the depths again. There were some big boys prowling out there!!!!

What a day! Later on, we found that most everyone had a great day no matter where they were on the river. One of our friends landed a twenty-eight-inch brown after a long epic battle. After two days of throwing the book at them with little success, the fly gods felt for us, and we were rewarded with epic Dry fly fishing. The next day we were leaving; it was snowing and cold; a few of the guides stayed to fish on. Till the next trip we may be better equipped with new found knowledge, but I know the San Juan river will as usual, throw us a few curve balls going forward. That is the beauty of Fly Fishing the unknown and slowly gaining experience.

 

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry!!!

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry!!! After a drive we get to the stream in the high country AZ, water looks awesome!. I see another friend of mine already on the stream walking down I walk over and talk with him. get back to the truck and Marc goes your not going to believe this!!! What???
The automatic window on the passenger side just went up. SO!!!
Both our rod tips snapped off one inch from the top ring!! No Shiiiiiii !!!!! Yep!
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Well i had one spare rod, but Marc did not. So Marc went to work we got a lighter heated up the ends pulled off the ring tips from the broken rods. Then we slightly heated the broken rod end pushed the tips back on, clinched the tips with a hemostat and voila’, back to fishing minus a few inches!!!! What’s a few inches!!!!! She said! The rods lasted all day no issues!!!!
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The stream had great flow and nice color, we were hoping for an epic day. Turned out to be a long hard struggle, Marc did catch two nice wild browns and one rainbow. I was skunked.
One funny tale, Marc asked me to fish this particular run and he wanted to put on a purple and black copper john looking nymph. I was actually looking at another fly but he was adamant!
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So we walked up, water looked awesome so fishy!!! Saw a nice trout rise. cast over it plus at least 20 or more casts in the run. No luck! I decided to change flies, said to Marc, get in there give it a go. Third cast in a nice brown on. The fly the same as mine. Go figure! I know you are thinking a better presentation etc; but honestly I did some really nice drifts thru there!! That my friend is lady luck!! Or lack there of!!!
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It was a great day and so nice to be back in the high country fish or not!! We fished till almost dark, started to get cold so we headed back to the truck.
On our way out my friends had gone but I did find out later that they also struck out. They went down river and are very accomplished Fly Fishers we went up and between us we covered that stream fully. After all kinds of rigs and so many flies between us, it was just one of those days that the fish were not feeding. Very few rises to be seen. On the way out we did see that it was almost a full moon and some say that can really affect the bite!! That is my excuse and I am sticking with it. Tight lines all!!!

Yesterday was a wake up call

Yesterday was a wake up call for me, out on the Salt River AZ, on my own exploring some new water. Beautiful day, what could go wrong?
When the water looks deep and you are almost at the top of your waders back off!!!!
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I was fishing some new water when I snagged my flies on a submerged rock on the other side of the run. I can get that!! Big mistake and stupid!!!
Took off my vest left the rod and waded out with my wading stick, halfway over it got very deep and then I slipped and in I went over my head full waders filling up even with my wading belt on!
Now I am lucky as I have surfed all my life and I know how to handle myself in water and a situation like this. The water was pretty cold but I just pushed off the bottom and swam and pushed over to the other side. It was not far, but shock is your enemy and less experienced fishers could be in deep trouble!
Clambered out only to find I was stuck on the other side water was too deep to try and cross back.
Again you never know what is going to happen next,I looked up stream and could see some deep dark muddy water in a back flow but it was getting shallower the further up I went. I had a small cliff behind me so i could not crawl up. I had all dead bamboo brush tight into the water so I was using the bamboo like a snow shoe in the mud. However that did not work well and I was sinking deep quickly, I managed to crab some tree branches and use that as leverage to pull my self back out, very deep mud and sticky!!! I hate mud!!!!
Back to square one!
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Ok,the cliff it was, not big but vertical. I started climbing being very carefully to look before I placed my hands on on crack or ledge above me. Making sure there were no rattlers sunning them selves in early warm weather. In wet full wading gear not easy plus having to keep under all the dead trees and bushes hanging down. Made it to the top then had to walk about 1/4 mile to be able to wade across a shallower part to get to my vest and rod, soaking wet.
For what? to save two flies? I know so much better than that. I fish a lot on my own in out of the way places, so this was a wake up call to be more prudent in the future.
The day yielded one 19 inch rainbow that snapped off my tippet right at the net, one lost big Sonoran sucker that snapped off all my gear after a minute or so and one Sonoran landed.
At the end of the day some rainbows were on the surface taking flies. I rigged up only to have a strike that snapped the barb less end of my fly off. I guess that was fate telling me to go home!

San Juan river New Mexico, Fly Fishing in January 2020

Got the call from the boys, there is a small window of time this weekend in between storms do you want to float the San Juan? Do Birds Fly, do Bears Shiiiii!!!!! In the woods, sign me up!!!

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Matt and Chris Arizona Fly Fishing Guides, Dave, Steve and me the old boy!!! Out the door at four am Friday morning, the plan to rendezvous somewhere along the trip with the other truck and guys. You know what they say all good plan for mice and men! Well the other guys ran into a snow storm which slowed them down so it was every truck for itself.

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 Dave and I pressed on ahead now the pathfinders. We hit the New Mexico border only to find they have some strange animals in that there bad lands, prehistoric vistas which blows the mind with the vastness and who knew what roamed the lands!!

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Eventually we arrive around two in the afternoon to gale force winds, snow flurries and nineteen degrees Fahrenheit temps. Jump out the truck sniff the air, the question do we go or not Goose!!! One look at each other and into our waders pull on many layers and rod up. Just at this point the others turn up and off we go. The plan to fish the Braids as it is too late to put the boats in.

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If you have not fished the San Juan the Braids are just up from the famous Texas hole which can only be waded too shallow for boats.

It was bitterly cold with numb hands and no fingers to feel, we all spread out and every man for himself. All the guys caught three to five fish each, except for the old guy I was skunked that afternoon. As the light faded and the ducks winged their way in for a good night rest, we all headed back to the trucks talking about what worked and what did not. In my case a stick of dynamite, might have been better use!!! We disturbed a deer and her fawn on the trail both as cold as us!!

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We stayed at Fish Heads San Juan River Lodge where our meals awaited us. After all the talk and food back to the rooms for hot showers then headed into the war room where Matt was tying Flies that he figured would work well the next day. Orders in, off to bed dreaming about that big elusive brown that was just waiting for my fly!

Next day loaded up and we had the boats in the water by eight am, which on a normal day would be very late as the crowds are always big on this river. However, this time of year it is pretty quiet. On arrival we were the first two boats in the water with a few wading fly guys already in the water along the edges of Texas Hole.

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We anchored up trying various flies with little success, a fish here and there but not much action. After several hours we started to drift down, this river is all catch and release using oars only on the boats, no motors so it is very peaceful. We all fished different flies under indicators, some nymphs, leeches, emerges, eggs of every color and just about every color and combo under the sun. All of us had success at different times of the day with shouts of encouragements and fantastic esprit de corps!!

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Around two in the afternoon we pulled the boats up on a bank and had a great lunch, smoked salmon, jerky, salads plus so much more. Once sated back into the boats to drift the afternoon away. We all caught plenty of fighting Wild rainbows with some beautiful colored up browns. The drift to the take out point is about six miles so it is a leisurely float with mild rapids and the odd rock to avoid here and there.

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Fly Fishing with five friends for a day is very special, also have two fly fishing guides with us was invaluable as you learn so much from them. Matt Traynor who guides all over Arizona and Chris Wilson who guides at Lees Ferry. I highly recommend you book them if you are fishing in these areas!!

Both were so generous in their time and knowledge I certainly learnt from them. Many times, just watching how they approached the water, how they cast, and most importantly for me, watching how they mended their lines for that perfect drift. That is one of the most important aspects of fly fishing. Note that they were not our guides, just good friends fishing along sides us enjoying their time on the water.

As dusk approached, we landed at the take out point loading the boats on the trailers as quickly as we could as dinner awaited us.

 One thing to remember, is to get your New Mexico fishing license, pay your five-dollar park ticket to park and pinch your flies you are using as it is barbless and the game wardens are there and they police strictly.

Hot shower and sweet dreams not wet dreams!!

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Next day rinse and repeat, except this time Steve caught a monster Rainbow early in the day. Then in the afternoon Matt hooked into a big one. We were further down but we heard the drama, Matt was in the boat in shallow water when the fish took his fly. In water I had fished hard for a while with no luck!!! The fish took off down river so Matt jumped out running and stumbling along the shallow water trying to keep it under control. Shouting for someone to bring a net as he had a bloody big one on!! More shouts, water splashing laughter then hoots as they final landed this prize into the net. Sound carry so easily on water so we lived the moment vicariously!!!

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So much fun, so many moments, so much to reflect on, such as Matt with his beard and Russian looking fur cap that immediately became the butt of Russian lore!! Ivan the great, you get the drift!

 Our when one of our guys who shall remain nameless, had a stomach malfunction and had to hit the head urgently, just as we were walking into the fly shop to discuss leaving the boats in storage. Full of manly men and he shouts out as Ivan the Russian is walking into the store, he needs to hit the POTTY!!!!

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Potty what the Fuccccccccc!!!!

Ivan was sheepishly looking the other way at that point!

I have never seen a guy get out of all his padded clothing and full waders in that time frame, I think it should become an Olympic sport as there was so much grunting, cursing, stretching, panting all the while with such concentration!! Epic to watch!!! And the explosion what an encore!!!!

If you get a bunch of guys to share rooms and gas it very affordable, plus there are plenty of places to wade so if you do not have access to a boat don’t be deterred. Fish the Braids up and also fish down river plenty of walkable wading areas to be reached.Attachment

Up early Monday and head home looking forward to the next trip.

 I am blessed to have such friends. Fly Fishing what an adventure