White Mountain & Apache Reservation Lake Fly fishing

Fly fishing the White mountains and the Apache Reservation Arizona at over 8 to 9000 feet.

I am a very active stream Fly fisherman; however, I have just returned from my second trip to fly fish some great lakes at a higher elevation. If you have not gone to the lakes, now is the time before winter sets in, and many are snowed in. I am no expert on lake fishing and prefer fast-moving water, but I have to say the allure of bigger fish is attractive. Most of the fish I caught were on flies under an indicator, and staring at an indicator willing it to move can be boring as hell on still water! Also, as soon as you look away, the fish will strike at that moment!

When the fish are active, it can be a lot of fun, and of course, you have to be able to cast and deal with strong gusting winds, which can be its own challenge. Marc and I just returned from our first trip camping for three nights and four days of fishing. We are no camping experts and quickly learned that our old summer tents and sleeping bags are cold at night, so very little sleep. Plus, the Elk are in rut and bugled all night long; it seemed right next to our tent on either side, so we had surround sound!!!

Beans and beans fueled my system, much to Marc annoyance at night, talk about bugles!!!

Up early and fishing till dark is a long day, but as we had no boat, we walked many shorelines and figured out where the fish tended to be at certain times thru trial and error. We mainly fished two flies under an indicator; the bottom fly was usually about eight feet down from the indicator with the next higher fly about four feet above that—a few snags here and there but not too bad. Any small nymph with green color did very well, followed next by black and red-colored nymphs. On one afternoon, Marc did very well with a black Woolly bugger as the top fly. If you are having no luck, experiment until you get some bites; if you are down deep, come up to about five feet that also did the trick.

My favorite experience was about two hours before dark, the trout were rising, and we saw some very large browns gulping and a few jumping clear of the water, big boyzzzzz!!. We both changed up to a big dry fly with a small size twenty nymph about two feet below. Hard to see due to the setting sun and glassy conditions, but we struck on anything near our flies as it was hard to see. That night I caught two nice-sized browns, a beautiful small colored up brookie, and plenty of smaller rainbows. Also, earlier that day, I caught an Apache trout, so a great variety that day. Marc did as well, if not better, the last day, we actually stopped fishing as we had caught so many fish we were more than sated, can you believe that!!!!

For whatever reason, the rainbows in the lakes give a hell of a fight and stay deep on more than a few occasions; we both thought we had a monster on only to find a sixteen-inch bow giving us hell. The big browns just stayed deep; you just had to let them run and slowly bring them in. Completely different feel!

I was hoping to get one more trip in before the snow so tight lines all.

If you want more info, please privately IM me on Facebook. I will be happy to give you more information.

Fly Fishing Iowa

Spent some time in Des Moines Iowa on business, but was able to fly fish on the weekends. If you get the chance go visit North East Iowa called the drift less region. Many small springs great fishing. Iowa has done a great stocking job on rainbows, but there are plenty of wild brown trout and brookies.

I went on line when I was there and found some streams to fish. From Des Moines it will be a good three to four hours driving but well worth the effort. The first weekend I went to Waterloo creek a tributary off the Upper Iowa river spring fed about nine miles long. There is plenty of access to fishing pretty much all along. It has meadows with cow pasture, wooded area to more hidden harder to access stretches which of course I headed too!! There is a stretch of catch and release only I think about two miles long just off Hwy 76. There are a few parking areas then you hike into the brush not far but can be hard going in places, how hard can that be!! Well I found out pretty quickly not easy. The Vegetation in places can be twenty-foot-tall and next to impossible to get thru, with forests of stinging nettles at least eight-foot-high, not much fun when you are wet wading in shorts.

In these places you just have to get in the river and wade up, there are areas of deep sand and mud easy to get stuck, test the ground first. I had a late start so only had about three hours to fish, never the less landed four nice wild browns all on a copper john under an indicator. The stream has great riffles and some deeper pools. I caught all of those fish at the head waters of the deep pools wild they were, and fight they did. A great start to my exploration then a four-hour drive back to Des Moines already planning my next weekend trip!

Just a side note, to any beginners or newbies to the great sport of fly fishing, the only rod I could fit into my luggage was an 8 ft 6-inch 5 weight, white river classic rod bought from Bass Pro shop many years ago for Ninety dollars. This rod handled all the fish I caught, casting on occasions in strong winds long casts with two flies and indicator plus split shots with no problems. My point don’t get caught up in all the hype about buying nine hundred dollar plus rods, at least not until you have experience and know what works for you first! Start slowly and learn, remember it is flies in the water that catch fish not flies in the air!!!

The next week end came slowly enough this time I was out early and planned to stay in a hotel near the streams for the night. My next stream was Clear creek stream not more than five miles from waterloo. This stream is only about four miles long and again is stocked with rainbows, there are wild browns and brookies not sure if the brookies are stocked or not. Situated in a wooded valley my map apps took me directly to the lower first parking area.

On arrival it was packed with all types fishing so off I went hiking up and away, funny once I was about four hundred yards away, I did not see another fisherman all day. There was no surface action going on so I went to two flies under an indicator fishing some fast-moving ripples. Hooked a nice brown lost at the net, great start. With no idea what to use I went to my trusted flies that work well in Arizona. Black woolly bugger with a size 18 red and black nymph that my local fly tier ties for me Brian Foss, your flies killed it!!!! That red and black nymph was the work horse and boy did it deliver a big thank you!!!!

Now as I said they stock Rainbows; they were almost a nuisance I caught so many that it was a joke I was after the Browns and brookies. I fished all day caught more than my fair share of Browns but not a single brookie!! At about six thirty I was pretty high up and not sure when it would get dark so I found a road that ran alongside the valley, I hiked up to that then walked about three miles back on this dirt road to the car park. It was still light so I decided to fish up a little as I knew I could get back in the dark ok from there.

The last twenty minutes as it got dark it was insane, no surface action but I was catching Browns only just about on every cast, crazy fun and no rainbows go figure!! Off to find a hotel.

Sunday morning off to find North Bear Creek stream again about six miles long, there are three bridges that cross over this stream giving you different access points. This stream is clear water with a lot of weed growing along the bottom. If you find a clear space you can see the trout silhouetted against the sand. There were some trout feeding on the surface, I put on a small blue winged olive with a size twenty black and silver midge about twenty inches below. Bingo the trout loved that fly did well also caught some on the midge. Casting with a dropper is tricky in this water as it is shallow going over the weeds so you had to be accurate casting the dropper in the small gaps between the weeds otherwise you would get hung up. The area I was fishing was meadow and cow pastures with plenty of room for back casting a lot of fun. I went further up but it was so over grown I gave up as I was stung to death by nettles so I went back down. Great day plenty of browns a few rainbows and again no brookies.

Considering I did not know the area but with googles help was able to find some great streams, Iowa more than delivered I look forward to my next trip there.


Fly fishing Washington State and Idaho

My wife and I had the chance to go to Washington state and Idaho. Visiting her sister and family, they were kind enough to kick me out of the house so I could Fly Fish!!! Now that’s what I call a great family!!!!

My first river was the Spokane river that literally flows thru downtown Spokane; you can find places to Fly Fish from the banks ask the locals, all very friendly. My first port of call was to the local fly shop Silver Bow Fly Shop. Very helpful fly guys turned me on to the streams and what flies worked well when I was there. I ended getting a guided trip down the Spokane River for the day with one of their guides, Gary.



Interestingly you start the float downtown, and off you go for about six hours, which was plenty of time due to the hot sun. He put me on so many Fish, chasing Red Banded wild Rainbows at the end of the drift my arm was aching so much casting. Caught plenty of fish and lost a few I should not have!!!



Next, I fished the Little North Fork Coeur d’Alene, wet wading, a mixture of dry flies and nymphs caught some very nice cutthroat trout, fished for about 4 hours. Easy drive, you can follow the stream via a dirt road that runs alongside it.



After that, we headed to Lake Pend Orielle, where we set up camp for a few days with my wife’s family. I could sneak off and fish some of the local streams catching cutthroat, browns, and rainbows.

Again, a mixture of dry flies and nymphs. I fly fished the Pack River, Grouse creek, Moyie River, and the mighty Kootenai River.



I spend one-day wet wading on the confluence of the Moyie river running into the Kootenai River. The Moyie is much smaller, but there were so many Cut Bows in the water about fifteen feet from me that they drove me crazy. I spent hours on them, tried every fly and technique in the book only caught two that morning, both on a big dry hopper.

IMG_4403They were holding there, giving me the finger!!! Funny enough, I did move over to the side of the Kootenai for an hour or so and caught a nice size Golden Sucker on my bottom nymph; he gave me a hell of a fight in the big, fast-moving water; great fun!!!!


After that, I waded up the Moyie catching some nice, wild rainbow, who took a black woolly bugger and a nice sized black stonefly. At the beginning of the day, I was lucky enough to bump into a local guide picking up a boat—Leeanna Young of the Last Resort Outfitters. We talked, and as it happened, she had just had a cancellation for the next day. Perfect, we set up to meet at ten the following day


We left her base camp for a short drive around ten in the morning, putting in on the river about twenty minutes later.



Leeanna knows the river well and is a very accomplished guide and Fly fisherwomen, we started with three rods set up to cover all angles for the day.


First off, we were casting tiny dry flies. In a river this big and fast-moving, it can be hard to see the flies in the different sunlight, so you have to be on top of your game. The hits came quickly, and with fly cast out quite a distance, you have to be quick on the strike. At the start, I missed quite a few, but over time I got better at seeing and quicker.


Leeanna has a well set up Willie aluminum drift boat with plenty of room for two Fly fishermen /women, Ideal for drifting this big, fast-moving river.

When we fished, the Kootenai River was flowing around ten thousand cubic feet per second, but it can get up to thirty-five thousand cubic feet per second, so it can be a swift ride for sure.


Leeanna knows all the back eddies and took me many times back for a rerun on missed fished to get a better angle. The second-rod set up was for swinging big streamers, casting into the fast-moving water let it swing down thru the current, then strip back. I did miss one big fish using this method. Next, we went to a smaller lightweight nymph rig set up high, sticking the current; we did catch a few fish, however Leeanna put the rod down and promptly sat on it, breaking the tip off. Funny we had just talked about breaking rods, and there you go Murphy’s law came to play!!

Leeanna is probably my number one pick for a guide; she put me on a ton of fish, knew the river backward and forwards, told me OutFront that we would fish till dark as she wanted to be able to cover any hatches that might emerge. Leeanna has great enthusiasm and professionalism as well as catering to all my dietary needs, I’m a vegan no easy matter!!!! She has a unique way of cutting up whole Mangos!!!


The Kootenai river starts in British Columbia, winds into Montana, then down thru Idaho, eventually turning back into Montana. We started below one of the dams about thirty-five miles south of the Canadian border, very scenic float about elven miles long for the day. We were on the river from ten-thirty in the morning until just before dark getting off around eight-thirty at night; what a day!!

Wild Rainbows, Cut bows, and cutthroat trout. I lost count on the number of fish landed. I really recommend Leeanna Young as a guide; if you ever get up to that part of the world, give her a call, you will have an exceptional experience.


Tonto National Forest Fly Fishing Update Arizona

Tonto National Forest Arizona reopened from Fire restriction, Fly Fishing here we go!!


Finally, they have reopened the Tonto National Forest here in Arizona. Closed for about six weeks due to fire concerns, they have now allowed us back in, but of course, absolutely no fires of any description allowed while you camp or RV!


That is excellent news for all Fly fishermen/women who have been deprived of some great higher elevation fishing. I was lucky to be out of town for awhile Fly fishing in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, I will write at length about that in another blog.


Yesterday, Marc and I headed to one of the local streams that we hoped would have some water moving through it. The monsoons have been slow to arrive, so we are desperate for water, not only to dampen down the forests but to breathe new life into our streams. Typical for this time of year here in Arizona.


Phoenix’s weather for the day was predicted to be one hundred and eleven degrees Fahrenheit, but up where we were, it was a mild eighty-eight degree and in the shade of the trees in the water cooler, which was a pleasant break from the dry heat of the valley!


I was hoping for some hopper dropper action and set up a small grasshopper with a trailing size eighteen nymph with a little chartreuse shackle on its brown body. It was very apparent right off the go that you needed to fish any shaded areas and forget about water that was in the direct sunlight. In this stream, that is tough fishing as you have to get in up close and personal to covered water. The first riffle that I approached I could not get a fly on the water from my side, so I crossed at the lower point of the water and approached hiding behind the brush and some boulders to dangle my fly at the headwaters and let it drift on down thru the faster deeper run. My third drift down produced one beautiful fighting rainbow that was very pissed off to have something sticking in his lip. In overhead cover and on a small 4# Fly rod, it was a great tussle!!


Marc was ahead of me fishing when I caught him up watching some fast-moving water. He told me that a grasshopper landed on his hat, and he caught it, putting it in at the top of this run. About halfway down in a very tight hole under a bush with brambles hanging over, the grasshopper drifted down fluttering away when a nice trout just came out and gobbled it down. We could see where he was lying, so Marc told me to put my grasshopper over him. That was easier said than done!!


I could not cast too much cover to him, so I put the grasshopper in at the top of the run, but I had to get in on the current that would take to his side. After several futile attempts, I did manage to get my fly to go right where he was. We watched him come up, take a look and swirl away. This was one educated Trout!! Several attempts and another swirl this time on the nymph, but no takes time to move on!


The rest of the day, we fished on up through some great water producing for me about seven rainbows and Marc about ten or so, so not bad considering the day. Fishing up over boulders, under trees, bushes, brambles you name it is not easy work, so around four, we decided to head back to the truck.

When we reached the truck, there was one nice long piece of slow deeper moving water that earlier on had produced only one Trout. It was now in the shade from the canyon walls I just could not pass it by, had to have a few casts. I had changed my rig up earlier that day to two nymphs under an indicator. Marc had fished most of the day with small flies, one being a black pheasant tail-sized sixteen that he stripped through the water with great results! I should have done the same but was too lazy to change rigs again!!


Regardless this time, I had on the same nymph brown body with a tuft of chartreuse shackles, but underneath I had changed to a size twenty black with silver midge; I have always down well with that nymph in the past.


I found a spot with an overhanging tree close to the water, but more importantly, I could see that the water was moving slightly faster in a section across from me with foam and bits and pieces moving down. I was roll casting under the tree and up, letting my flies dead drift slowly down in this current. Almost immediately I had a beautiful rainbow on, for the next twenty minutes or so I landed a bunch of nice Trout, hoping that Marc would reappear. At about this time, I had a nice hit that produced a beautiful fighting wild brown that took my top chartreuse tufted nymph. I love these fish; they are hard to find and do not give up the fight.


After landing this, I left my rod on the bank and went after Marc to come over and re-rig!!! He did, and of course, it is now sod’s law as the fishing slowed down. We did catch a few more, but it was not fast and furious as it had been, All, my Trout that evening took the black and silver midge. In this piece of water, I had the nymphs down about eighteen inches off my small indicator with the bottom midge probably about three to four feet down just off the bottom as best as I could judge. The water that day had some color to it, so that helped hide us as we were often time very close to where we had to cast. Stealth and at peace with nature almost a Zen feeling of being one with nature, it does not get any better than that.


As I get older, I find myself getting a little contemplative about the years past and I kick myself for not getting back into Fly Fishing sooner. Don’t get me wrong I am living a wild and wonderful life, but I missed many good years to be on the water. I guess life is a trade-off as I have been busy running a business all my life, and that takes its toll!!! I have always been limber and sure-footed, but now I find myself being extra careful as I am not quite as nimble as I was, Father Time has a way of catching up to us. To all younger people, treasure your youth and don’t squander your time, get out there and see some of the most beautiful lands that Fly Fishing will take you to, no matter where you live. Tight lines all!!!

Out there in Arizona

Tonto Forest Closed, Apache Reservation closed! What are Az Fly Guys and girls going to do? Dig deep and travel into the wilderness, explore new ranges!!
The fish Gods brought me back to reality after an epic day last week, to a big fat goose egg this week ZERO!!!
Fishing not catching Right!!

Marc managed to nab a few fish with a few lost. We walked eight and half miles in 102 Fahrenheit heat. Explored new water for the future. Marc did his Michael Phelps impression in a few deep pools along the way. Walrus comes more to mind!!!!

Arizona has a diversity of scenery that is spectacular with most Arizonians not really exploring and knowing what lies out there!!!

We are privileged to be able to roam this land, so if you have not gotten out there go!!! Take water go early and you will be glad you did