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Winter Fly Fishing White Mountains, Apaches Reservation Silver Creek Arizona sneaking in a few more trips before snowed in

White mountains, Apache reservation and Silver creek Fly fishing in the higher elevations of Arizona.

Winter in the mountains is fast approaching, so it is with urgency we are trying to get in some last-minute fly fishing before the lakes get snowed in. The weather forecast last weekend was not good, but beggars cannot be choosers!!! Off we went, little did we know what mother nature would throw at us the next four days!Week last Friday we got to the first lake it was still low but the wind was down, nice change. There was only one other fisherman on the lake, in a small one-man inflatable tube fishing not too far from us. He was catching fish on the fly so a good omen.

 This lake never lets us down it usually fishes well, but we were on the hunt for big browns that we have caught in the past there. No luck, but we did catch several nice fighting rainbows. For some reason at this particular lake they fight really well, they are good size with muscular shoulders. Nymphs do well anything with a green flare. The bottom nymph about six feet down, as do green and olive leeches stripped. It was cold and the wind did start to pick up. We left just before dark, having done ok on rainbows.

The next day was blowing hard and raining really heavy must have been around 28 degrees Fahrenheit at best. The wind made it even colder! We had a particular spot that we wanted to hike to on this lake so it was time to wrap up really warm. Fleece leggings under waders, with two sweaters then layered on a hoodie jacket then a rain jacket over that. Felt like an Egyptian mummy walking slowly but at least to start, warm.

Off we went fly casting here and there along the way catching a couple of small rainbows loosing one big heavy fish that I never saw, but it was heavy and fighting deep then gone. He took a nymph with a gold body and green hackles. The wind was now howling and the rain was horizontal to the water!! Freezing. However, I wanted to fish along this bank towards our destination. Casting two flies, split shot and an indicator in howling wind can be a recipe for disaster. If you are not a proficient fly caster don’t bother, look for a sheltered spot as you will end up with nothing but tangles.

Working along this bank in weeds, rushes, muddy sucking mud howling wind freezing hands is not easy!! However, if you can use the wind down wind to cast sideways out and walk along the drift you can catch fish. Marc had gone ahead of me so we finally caught up with each other as we sheltered behind a big pine tree out of the wind. At this time, we had been on the water for about five hours we were both soaked thru, hand shacking so much neither of us could tie on flies. A few fish between us a few big fish lost, he looked at me and said what do you think? I said let start walking back. We fished back along the way we had come, Marc caught a nice brown trout and I a few more rainbows. As we got to the truck Marc said let’s go to the dam on this lake it will be sheltered from the wind. We were both soaking wet but what the hell off we went!

On arrival we found two other fly fishermen there doing well, I thought we were the only mad buggers out there in these conditions! They left after we talked about what was working, they had caught enough and were more sensible than us. Marc and I re rigged, me using an indicator and two nymphs at first, Marc just stripping leeches we caught some small rainbow. I then changed to a black top woolly bugger with a green woolly bugger below stripped. I hooked a big fish never saw it had him tight to the line for a moment or two then he was gone. We caught some more rainbows with the wind now going into gale force mode with dark fast approaching. We called time out stumbling back to the truck and warm car seat warmers to try and defrost out our bodies!!

That night the storm winds hit hard, were we were staying in Springerville, only could guess as to how strong it was up on the lakes!!! The next morning, we found out, our plans were derailed big time! We set off, got onto the log roads on the reservation about eight miles from our first lake there was a tree down across the road blocking it. Luckily for us the top thinner end of the fur tree was long enough that we were able to snap off some branches and drive my four-wheel truck up and over it, just!! A few miles on we came to another downed tree across the road, this time it had hit with so much force that part of the tree had snapped and bounced off the side of the road leaving a space for us to squeeze by.

Finally, at out first lake we fished catching a lot of small rainbows, same rigs as the night before. It was windy and cold but not too bad!! After a few hours it was time to drive to the next lake, looking forward to what it would have to offer us. A few miles further on our plans came to an abrupt end. This tree was big it had snapped off about three feet from it base and fallen straight across our road. It was at least 3 to four feet high lying there with no way around it. I would hazard a guess if we had been able to get around it, we would have come across many more downed trees the wind was that strong that night!!

Now what? Well we thought after looking at the map there was a small road that we could use to cut thru down to the Black river and the East fork. A few miles into that we came to a gate that was locked blocking further access down. There was another way so we turned around looking to do that, along the way we would pass Big Lake.

Big lake at this time was white capped and the wind was howling, we drove along spotted an area that was sheltered along the shoreline. This was our third or fourth time to big lake having never bothered to fish it as the wind was always just too strong. What the hell lets give it a go! Again, we layered up, I had my nymph rig on and was too lazy to change. Glad I did not as we both ended up catching some very pretty small Bonneville Cutthroat trout! Both Marc and I had not caught any Bonneville cutthroat trout before in Arizona so that was fun! Why no pictures you ask? Neither of us could at any time feel our fingers and the thought of undoing all our clothes to get to our phones it was just not worth the effort. So, you will just have to trust us on this!!! In conversation Marc mentioned to me that if you use surgical gloves, they will keep your hands warmer and you can still tie flies! Great!! Why did we not have any with us?

Marc and I over the course of the year have been able to catch these trout in Arizona. Apache, Gila, Brown, Rainbow, Brook, tiger and now Bonneville cutthroat, not bad plus I also have caught some graylings, Marc as I rub it in has yet to catch a grayling in Arizona, not to say he has not caught some big ones when he was guiding back up in Alaska a few years ago!!As the day was coming to an end we packed up and headed back to our hotel and hot showers. The forecast was for snow higher up.

The next day we woke to light snow on our truck and dark heavy clouds shrouding the mountains higher up from us. Enough is enough, so we headed down to Silver creek for some easy fly fishing we hoped!

It was snowing on and off and bitterly cold, on arrival we wrapped up again. I had fished here three or four times in the past, Marc had not. I put on an orange and yellow egg on the bottom fly with a red San Juan worm above. We walked over the small bridge first cast I caught a nice rainbow, so easy!! Right, we then had to fish hard the rest of the day to get them to bite. We constantly changed flies until my old and trusty size 18 black and silver nymph took control. We found out that day they just wanted small flies’ size 18 to 20 nymphs’ different colors did the trick.

Slowly fishing up in the deeper runs we got separated. I had mentioned to Marc, that I was going to walk up to the top of the stream where there are some big pools with some very big trout in and I wanted to try for one of those. I set off in a snow storm, getting there I had changed to a purple and white nymph as my higher up fly. The snow was coming down hard and the wind was whipping up small waves on these deeper pools. The light was dull, so it was hard to see into the water and get any feel for the depth.

My third or so cast I hooked a big fish; very heavy he came up on the surface then was off running all over. I just was hanging on. After a few minutes I was beginning to think that if I got him in close, I would have to cut him loose as I could not net this fish on my own. The banks were very slippery and muddy, no way I could do both with out going into the water and it was too deep. Just at that moment I heard a voice behind me. Shit that is a big fish!! Marc had arrived just in time. It took awhile but we brought the fish in, netted quick photo and straight back in where he gave me a wet tail slap and was gone!!! What a fish!!

We fished on catching a few more but nothing like that monster what a great ending to my trip. I was just crossing my fingers Marc would get so lucky!! The end of the day came we had done well! As darkness descended, we trudged back to the truck. What a trip! Hopefully we can squeeze in another one or two before they are closed for winter.

Fishing is addictive as Marc commented to me after we had been on the road for an hour or so. I almost said to you as we were packing up let’s stay another day I have to go back and sight fish those monsters as I have not caught one there yet! My reply was, what the hell, you should have said earlier on I was game for that!!!

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White Mountain & Apache Reservation Fly Fishing at 9000 Ft

Great Fly Fishing trip for Four days of on the Flies. Marc Noble and myself. Camping at that elevation gets cold at night! Plus Elk moving thru our camp at 3 am, looking out of tent and seeing two big Green eyes staring back at you from about 100 feet at four feet eye level. Not sure what that was!!

Plenty of fish caught, wild brown trout, wild rainbows, wild brookies, Apache trout not a bad mix.

We caught them mostly on nymphs every day a different color seemed to work. One day in particular i was killing them on a little size 20 green Caddis imitation, every fish took that fly, until i lost it on a back cast in the trees

On the first day our little stove stopped working so it was back to the old camp fires for cooking.

One lesson learnt was that non stick porcelain pans do not do well on hot fires burnt it all off which in turn stuck to my meatless hamburger!! A bit gritty but still tasted great! washed down with a non alcoholic beer

I know, I am Vegan now after a lifetime of Steaks and Plenty of Beers, I must be a boring dude now!!! If you know me, not so, but the life style change has really helped me get fit and healthy again.

Funny story, i hurt my shoulder went to the docs, she says I have tendentious in my shoulder, too much casting?? so i have to do physical therapy to stop getting a frozen shoulder, the great news was my blood pressure was down to 115 over 72. That is low for me not that i was high to begin with but it is the benefit of being a vegan, almost one full year now after 65 years of pure hell and debauchery!!!

Just FYI I am not preaching, do what you want, just sharing a side note of life,.

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.

Proofed

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.

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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!!!

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!!!!

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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