A hard day Fly Casting.
Weather is at last cooling down, had a storm pass through with plenty of rain. Just what the streams needed. Went up to Canyon Creek this past Friday, the water was clear but higher, all good news. The watercress has been cleaned up a little, not so clogged.
Spent the day with a good friend of mine fishing. I went further down the stream, and my friend fished a bit higher up. We did not see much of each other until the end of the day.
I struggled with my casting all day, just could not figure out what I was doing wrong. I did catch five small browns and lost two good sized fish. One took my dry immediately on the cast, nice fish but he snapped my tipped on strike. The last fish of the day was good size, but the light was starting to go, and I had a hard time seeing the fly on the water. I was using a light colored hopper just cast upstream into a deeper run. I felt the fish take the fly but I was too late, and he was off he felt heavy!
The funny thing at that moment my friend just came across me in the water and was watching my casting. Immediately he said you are breaking your wrist on the backcast! That was it, I know better than that! I made sure I stopped my backcast without the wrist break feeling the rod and line load up, and I was back to casting as I can. Simple observation!
Just returned from an early morning trip to Bartlett Lake AZ.
I was lucky to be invited to fish for Bass on the Fly with Phil Click. He took me out on his boat.
Hitting the water around six am. Phil caught 4 or 5 Bass. I hooked one on a Black Popper on the surface only to lose as I brought to the boat. A bit later on landed
another this time on a scad streamer down nearer the bottom.
We left after the wind really picked up about 12-30 lunch time.
Lot of fun and beautiful scenery.
Fly Fished the Salt River in AZ yesterday, the water flow was down to 500 cubic feet a second from over 1000 feet per second. I thought some of my winter holes would be more opened up with the lesser flow.
Unfortunately there was a lot of weed growing blocking a lot of the holes. I tried using a strike indicator with 2 flies below at all different depths, Then a fly off the bottom and last but not least some different colored streamers. No luck!! I did see a huge carp go by my feet must have been at least 30 plus lbs, looked like a torpedo, that was the high light of the day!!!
I fished at the top of the last car park first, below the dam then moved down to the top of the blue pool which was much cleaner. The problem there as we know on a Sunday was all the tubers, kayaks, paddle boarder and the boom boxes blaring out Hip hop!!! I am sure the fished loved that!!!
Still it was a great day to be out in the cooler water wet wading.
First time I have been skunked at the Salt in a very long time!
End of summer another try at Canyon Creek AZ
Well, I had decided after being skunked the last two tries to leave the canyon alone until we had a good flood. September fifteen, my resolve faltered, my wife was out of town with our daughter, so it was just me rattling around the old house. No Fun!
Of I went, arriving around nine in the morning, as I was putting my rod together, noticed another fly fisherman already in the hole I planned to attack, Bummer!!
Took me so long to get ready he was gone, in for a pound in for a penny as they say! Stealth mode was the key for the day, the water was super low with watercress really clogging the little water that was visible. Standing way back from the pool casting a bright six-legged grasshopper with a trailing nymph.
Fished the pool hard nothing, nada, zip, zilch! That combo always does well, I figured the other guy had also put too much pressure on that pool. Wading up to the next run, same set up. The water was so low the nymph was getting caught too much on the shallow bottom. The watercress was everywhere with little free-flowing water showing. Very precise casting to narrow runs, some not more than two feet across bordered by fly grabbing watercress. In the pools I could have cast some streamers, I just do not enjoy that as much. Maybe next time, I know friends that catch a lot of trout that way!!!!
Off with the nymph, it was all dry fly now. Grasshopper just did not work, tried various dries and sizes no luck. Then I remembered a buddy of mine who fishes here a lot had given me two cool looking ants he had made. He swears by these ants on this stream!
Further up, there is a long shallow run that you have to double over and crawl on your knees to get within long casting distance and not be seen by the fish! Crawling along, feeling my old knees creak and groan, I got within reasonable casting distance. Squatting down behind some tall reeds I took my time to watch the water. At the very head of the run under an overhanging branch was a nice trout feeding on the surface from time to time.
I was only going to have a few chances at this guy, and it was not going to be an easy cast, I had to unroll the fly just under the bush onto the higher water to drift down. One perfect cast later, luck of the devil!! Fish on took immediately running straight back down at me, rod high pulling in line as fast as I could. Thirty seconds later he shook the fly out on the top of the water, gone!! Sitting back on my hunches pondering my next move. He had disturbed the water for sure, but it was pretty long and wide. Might as well do a few more casts covering different parts.
As luck would have it, on one short cast in front of me, a beautiful brown could not resist. Skating all over the surface, dancing, rod again very high in short order brought him straight into my net!!! About 10” plus inches just starting to get fall colors not as bright as the summer fish.
Took the fly out of his mouth keeping him in the net in about six inches of water. Fumbling to get my phone out to take a picture, just as I was going to take, he just casually swam over to the edge of the net and jumped into the river and was gone!! Another fisherman’s story!! Right!!
That was the last fish encounter for the day. I decided to leave around two thirty in the afternoon, taking the dirt road towards Young about seventeen miles away. On the way came to a signpost for Haigler Creek which runs into Tonto Creek. Eight dirt miles later, came to the stream only to find people swimming in the nearby holes. This creek runs through some beautiful rugged country in a canyon. Very tough stream to fish, as it goes into canyon walls that you have to wade to move on. I will fish there but only with other guys. This is a wilderness and not for the faint of heart. Bear country as the signs warns and a lot of steep banks that have to be scrambled up and down.
It is very surprising to me how many great streams we have in the high country in Arizona. Including the Mogollon Rim, White Mountains, the Apache reservation and so much more. This does not include all the different lakes we have access to! The elevation ranges from four thousand feet up as high as Eleven thousand five hundred feet on Mount Baldy. The cliffs you come across are made up of Limestone and Sandstone with vast Ponderosa Pine Forests. Often time these streams are nestled into canyon walls and then more open spaces. If you need a Fly Fishing guide Cinda Howard of Fly Fish Arizona and beyond is excellent. I have used her services many times.
I would guess that most of the population of Phoenix has truly never gone that far off the beaten track to experience these wildernesses. I am also surprised that some fishermen want to keep this all a secret, their honey holes, etc.! Just a few for sure, but I have been told I should not write about my experiences. This is God’s country, we all should enjoy and experience the wildness of it!
I have lived and traveled all over the world, been very lucky, the beauty of the high country has its own splendor that can match anything. Get out there, it is under your nose and not that difficult to get to. The summer months are best, most places you can use a car, make sure there is no rain in the forecast!! However, once the weather changes you will need four-wheel drive and a lot of common sense as some of the dirt roads get very bad, with a few having very steep if not vertical drops that are only a few feet from your tires.
The fishing can be un-real and it also can be slow, like anywhere. A lot of the streams are stocked at certain times of the year with rainbows.
The big trophies for me are the wild brown trout, the native Apache trout along with brook trout and the Gila trout.
Some of the streams are for Fly fishing with barbless hooks and are catch and release. However, most are for bait fishing. Check out before you set off. Don’t forget the Salt River nearer to Phoenix, this is also stocked at certain times with Rainbows, along with native Bass, Catfish, Bluegill, carp and Sonora suckers excellent fighting fish!
Also, go to Oak Creek Canyon nearer Sedona, it is beautiful and has a great Brown Trout population as well as stocked rainbows. There is a guide service up there, Sedona Fly Fishing Adventures that you can use that is very knowledgeable. I have not used them, but I know one of the part-time guides, and they know their stuff!
A little nearer to Phoenix is the Verde River, great place to fish, fish just above Cottonwood. Again there are small lakes which are stocked as well as the stream. In the stream just next to the lakes I have caught plenty of Rainbows, there is also Bass, Catfish, and Carp. So you see we have plenty of selection and it is nice to get out of the heat in summer!
Till the next time, tight lines!!!
So one day watching a fly fisherman doing his thing, with his dog patiently sitting at his side by the stream, reminded me of an occasion fishing a nameless stream with my dog.
The truth be told he was not really a fisherman’s dream, this dog loved to roam and could not understand for a moment, the boring idea of watching his master cast flies endlessly into the water. Trying to catch these silvery, slippery odd looking, smelly, slimy creatures. This description from the view of a dog, who of course, could succinctly converse with me, can’t they all?
The day had been long, to be fair to my faithful companion. Endless casting and cursing my luck or lack thereof! He was off running behind me amusing himself with all manner of smells and places to endlessly pee, marking his spot. God knows what he would have done if one of the resident Bob Cats came out to tell him to bugger off, this was their land, and they could easily out piss him!!!
So he was in happy land finally escaping my disapproving eye; on this one particular long cast, reaching back, casting further and further out, that big old trout had to be out there, somewhere! I let my line hang back in time, so far back it must have been in another dimension. Just as I was about to load up going forward, I heard this yelp, and my line took off backward. This was more fun than a huge trout running the line!
Off he went, now I understood what was happening, my line had caught him on his ear, and he had gone ape shi!!!! Howling he went, heading for the trees, safety from whatever this was in his ear that was the worst sting he had ever had!!
So about this time to make matters worse, the local wild horses turned up out of the bush to see what this ruckus was all about. I suppose that if dogs can talk to us humans, horses are easy to communicate with! No idea what was said, but the horses definitely were looking on with disapproval. This was after all a Sunday! Gods and horses day of rest!!!
Now my dog after taking my line out to the backing decided he needed my help and made a huge loop and turned running for me, which at the same time went around three horses on the outside of the group. They say lack of communication spells disaster, nothing could be more accurate, as now I had three horses heading my way at considerable speed trying to kick off this line that was running up their hind legs.
The other horses looked on with great amusement, this was better than Sunday TV!!!
At this point, I looked, had no options left, get trampled on or dive into the stream away from this Malay of horseflesh and hooves looking to trample anyone at this point.
It was not a pretty dive, lucky I was wet wading, but under I went, coming up for air only to see four heads standing there looking at me. My dog and now his three best buddies all wondering what I was doing spluttering and trying to get out of the stream!
Dog are wondrous forgiving animals as he waited for me with a torn bloody ear, waiting to give me a lick and say, I think it is time to fish another day!
Lees Ferry AZ
Just returned from a trip with a friend of mine to Lees Ferry AZ.
If you get the change go there, absolutely breathtaking scenery. We hired a guide and boat for one day of fishing, you can wet wade near the boat ramps which has some great fishing, but to really enjoy the fishing you need a boat and guide with local knowledge.
It is impossible to walk and fish higher up from the boat ramps as you are in the canyon walls. You can get dropped off the boat in certain spots to wet wade most times of the year. Unfortunately for us, this time the river was too high in the canyon to do that. So we just drifted in different runs for eight hours. The river at this point runs about fourteen miles so there is plenty of water to fish.
The fishing was on and off but we caught plenty of fish, all rainbows that really fought well. They are wild and spirited. I had many fish that once you got them on the reel they took off running. Taking a while to bring in to the boat.
Great fun!!! We wet waded the first afternoon on arrival in high winds that made it a challenge. Rigging up a red worm under an indicator with a trailing black and silver nymph. In general we had the flies about three feet under the indicator and the nymph another two or three feet down. Due to the speed of the water flow, you needed one or two split shots above the top fly to get them down quickly. Moving the indicator up or down depending on the depth we were fishing. The water is very fast moving and getting out to your waist is about as far as you want to go, the water is so very powerful and easy to trip and go under, so be respectful of mother nature! The water is cold they say about Forty-eight degrees, it is very noticeable so wear socks under your waders, I did not, and my feet and legs did get cold. Strange when your upper body is so hot!
Fishing with an indicator with two flies and split shots on a longer leader is a challenge, if you are not used to that do some practice first, it will save you a lot of time later on in avoiding messy tangles. So frustrating!!
At the end of the first day off to the lodge, there are a few different ones to choose from, all reasonably priced. Cliff Dwellers Lodge was our destination as they provided the guide service. Much easier to book altogether. At the lodge, dinner was very good and a few beers later we were feeling no pain and boy did the fish get larger as the night wore on!!!!
The next day was the big day, meeting our guide at seven am at the boat ramp, loading up the gear he told us not to wear waders as the water was too high and that we would be drifting all day! Setting up the fly rods with about nine to twelve feet leader with two flies followed by one or two split shot dragging under the last bottom fly. The flies I used with success was a worm followed down with a scud, which imitates a crustacean. The guide would maneuver the boat at the top of the run, and we would drift over mending the lines as we went so there was no drag on the indicator. If no strikes we would do again then move on to new water. Make sure you check and if you are not wading wear good boots on the boat, so you have sure footing. Standing on the bow with no railings as he maneuvered the boat into the fast current you need to be steady on your feet!
Eight hours is plenty long, as it can get very hot in the canyon and at the end of the day you are tired. The lodge provided us with a very good lunch, drink plenty of water and keep hydrated! All in all a wonderful experience with knowledgeable, friendly guides.
Too tired to fish any more, what’s a boy got to do? Beer and shrimp flour Tacos started the night, many beers later, off to bed. Up early the next day and off wet wading again staying on the river until one lunchtime. Plenty fish caught, into the truck and a four-plus hour drive back to Phoenix. The guide told us that October is one of the best times of the year to fish there with perfect weather and good fishing so we will be looking for people to join us on our next trip. If interested contact me or Brian Foss of Desert Fly Casters. The more people we get to go the bigger the saving on accommodation and fishing. Highly recommended!