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Willows Spring Lake Arizona

Sunday morning, last minute instant messages Saturday night, from my go to guys!!! lets go fishing in the boats. Short notice where to?

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Willows Spring Lake up on the rim. I checked the weather was supposed to be 50 Fahrenheit during the day.
Up at four am in shorts, flip flops. just in case took a jacket. Who says the brain does not work at o dot dark!!!!

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We arrived around seven thirty am, air temp 22 Fahrenheit water temp 43 Fahrenheit. The lake was steaming from the cold, snow here and there.
Shorts not the best idea at this moment!

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Boats in, we all set up two rods one with sinking lines and streamers the others we had a mixture of Hoppers with nymphs ten plus feet down also some with indicators. We could see fish on the fish finder all around 8 to 10 feet.
The result for the morning until around twelve was one nice brown caught on a streamer very deep and another small rainbow.

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However around one thirty, trout started to rise in the deeper water. Hoppers on with trailing nymphs.
We all caught about 6 plus small rainbows all on the hoppers. for the next hour, then the switch was turned off.


Two thirty we called it a day.
As we packed the boats up onto the trailers the lake went calm and you could just feel in the air it was about to turn on.
The odd fish started to rise all giving us the finger!!
Will be back!!!!!!

Fly Fishing in Arizona Mountains

Checked out a local stream in the mountains after some much needed rain.
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There was some color to the water with three of us fishing Semi Leeches, woolly buggers and some nymphs all stripped up, down ,sideways, dead drifts you name it!!! Even some drifts under an indicator. My two friends ended up with about 10 rainbows each,
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I was the low guy on the Totem pole with one rainbow taken on a black woolly bugger stripping back up. Not my day, that’s fly fishing, not catching Right!!!
Still the country in Arizona is so diversified it is mind boggling, get out there, get off the beaten track and explore.

 

We came across one deep pool hidden in a very deep canyon that just appeared around the corner you needed climbing gear to get in there. Can you imagine the fish lurking there???
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All within a two hour drive from downtown! Happy trails and tight lines!!!!

Fly fishing road warriors to the San Juan New Mexico

Getting up at three-thirty am to eventually arrive on the river at three pm New Mexico time. We had to meet up, load up the truck and drift boat, and off we all went. Matt and Steve, who are Arizona Fly Fishing guides and very accomplished fly fishers, If you want to be a better fly fisher, go with better guys, and you will improve vastly, just like in golf! Steve, an airline pilot who has the craziest Move recollection and Me just an old dude!

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The afternoon was bright and calm, with no wind, hallelujah!!!! Four guys in a drift boat does not work, so we dumped Steve the guide off on the left bank of Texas hole. The three amigos just dropped anchor up from him. As usual, there were plenty of guys in the water at the head of the hole.

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We became like choreographed casters, one on each end of the boat with Matt in the middle, casting into the faster-moving water. We worked well together with no tangled lines on the backcast!

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We did not have a lot of time before dark, so we stayed where we were and fished away. Matt and Steve 2 have plenty of local knowledge, which became more and more important as the trip went along. Steve 2 was a catching machine off the bank landing about a dozen nice Rainbows, while Matt landed close to the same amount, with the odd brown thrown in. Steve 1 and I landed a few fish. Steve 2 was fishing a size 22 brown, and gray Beatus fly with great success, while Matt was using tiny size 22 red-colored annelid flies. Also of note is the fact that we changed from a size 20 to size 22 which made all the difference.The strikes at the Juan can be very subtle, and you have to be very aware of any slight movement, I lost at least six fish that afternoon due to late strikes or feeling the fish on for a second before they throw the fly. Using such small flies does not give you a lot of room for error. Certainly, a great learning experience for me!

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At dark off to a restaurant for steak and beers, then back to rooms where Matt and Steve 2 started tying new flies for the next day, based on what they thought would be current due to conditions. I went and had a shower dreaming of bigger fish!!

The next day up early and first boat on the Texas hole, of course again, guys were wading at the head of the hole covering one of the best spots. This time Steve 2 meet some old friends of his who had their own drift boat, so he saddled up with them for the day. We all fished the hole for about four hours roughly with some success. We all changed up flies trying all kinds of mixes. Matt and Steve 2 did very well with Steve 1 and I bringing up the rear again, due to less experience. On occasions like this, you have to watch and learn, the subtle mini mends in the line, the correct drift in the right seems all so very important. I have to say that Matt and Steve 2 were very generous with their time and knowledge on this trip, and we’re always looking to help you and point out things that maybe you were not thinking about. A huge thank you to those guys!!

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Later in the day, we started the drift downriver, stopping along the way to get off the boats and wade different areas. On one stop, Matt, Steve 1, and I were on the left side of the river while Steve 2 and his friends were on the right side. On our side the trout were feeding on the surface as well as deeper down, we put on a variety of dry flies with no success and again with wet flies’ same result very frustrating!! On the other side, the guys were catching a lot of trout. Matt even used the same flies as Steve 2, who was killing it, the same flies on our side no go. Time to move on, we spend the rest of the day drifting down, catching the odd fish here and there very pleasant!

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Of course, Steve 1 catches a very small last-minute trout at the landing area, only to get ribbed that he was holding us all up due to this huge fight he was having with this monster trout as we all wanted to get the boats out of the water. No mercy in this group!!!

Off to dinner and beers, tough life, but someone has to do it!!

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The last day we were going to wade the braids, which is the area up above Texas hole that you cannot drift in a boat. It is all catch and releases up to the dam with great fishing to be had. The plan was to leave at the latest one pm as we had a long drive back.

We all fished various parts of the stream with Matt and Steve 2 doing well. Steve 1 caught fish but has this strange way of talking to fish in a strong Chinese accent when he is fighting the fish. I think his brain was addled from too much sun exposure. Steve 2 has the same habit, but at least he speaks in English to them!!!

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I think I had my most significant learning curve that day; I had fished this one long run from early on missing about six fish just getting off the hook with late strikes and whatnot. Pretty frustrating, then the run went dead. I fished up and down, no luck. Later Matt came down, and on his second cast caught a nice brown trout, I shouted up to him what was he using? He told me a small pink egg with an annelid fly underneath. He asked, what was I using? I said a large red egg with an annelid underneath. He came over and said I needed to change up, the larger red eggs work good in the morning, but when the sun gets higher, you need to change to a smaller pink egg for this run and time of day. We changed up my rig, and off he went.

My first six casts after that I had good strikes missing the fish, then bang nice rainbow on!! This was the same run that I had fished hard the previous hour or so with no luck. It just goes to show what experience brings to the table. So, my friends, when you can fish with experienced fly fishers, watch and learn, put all in the memory banks and down the road, it will bear fruit!!!!

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Leaving the river on a high note, we loaded up and became road warriors again!! We talked about all kinds of topics, interests listen to some podcast, went over the trip, and before we knew it, we were home. For me, around ten-thirty pm, happy as a clam, although I think at this point, Matt’s eyes were popping out of his head!!!

Fly Fishing the San Juan River in New Mexico

 

Fly Fishing the San Juan River New Mexico.

The day started at four am, left Phoenix at five am. According to google maps, it would be a seven-hour fifteen-minute drive. However, with gas stops and towing a drift boat and with a rendezvous to meet our other friends who also were towing a drift boat, we hit the river around three in the afternoon, taking into account losing an hour due to the time difference.

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Once at the river, we had to launch the two boats, then drive both trucks down to the parking lot at the end of a six-mile drift, then drive one truck back. Time was ticking. We launched at Texas hole, which is the first pool of the drift. This hole is the catch and release barbless area of the river. You can fish higher up to the dam and of course, below the take out point.

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We fished the Texas hole with all the guys catching a few nice fish except me I was skunked that day. Fishing was slow, and there was a lot of weed drifting down in the water, and just about every cast covered your flies in green weed, which was a pain to take off the flies. I think this for sure slowed down the fishing.

I was fishing with three friends, one being Matt Traynor, a fly-fishing guide licensed in Arizona, a true expert who has fished the San Juan numerous occasions and is very knowledgeable. Trust me, he has the patience of Job! as we were continually harassing him for which fly now!!!!

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He brought along his brand-new drift boat, also Dave Geruais, who brought his boat. Dave and I fished together, Matt, along with his friend Steve fished in their boat. Both drift boats are Willie boats, great boats very shallow draft with excellent stability. As time was moving along, we decided to take off and drift the river so that Dave could get some firsthand experience rowing down and through some small rapids. Also, he was getting to know and try not to hit the rocks that jutted out in just the right place to ding your boat. There was not much time for fishing as we had to get down to the take out spot before dark. We did cast here and there, but before we knew it, it was dark, and we still had a ways to go.

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Now the fun started, Dave asked me to give him directions as he was rowing with his back to the downside of the river. Took a while for us to understand my right was his left, etc. understanding I had never been on this river, it was now pitch dark. As I peered into the gloom trying to figure where the river went, I said to him I think this river goes to the right; he glanced over his shoulder and said no, it goes left, but we must keep right. What???? Are you sure? Then down in the gloom, a bright light turned on with a voice saying follow the light. Is that Matt? Or a pirate luring us to our doom! As they say, follow the yellow brick road in our case, the light.

If you were above the river around eight-thirty that night, you probably thought there was a drug bust going on. Lights were turning on and off shouted instructions that got lost in the night. Me to Dave watch that rock coming up on the right, Dave to me your right or my right??? Never mind, we just hit it, try not to fall out! Dave had a headlight I had a headlight the guys had headlights, and we still hit a few rocks, but we missed more than we hit so all good. Eventually, we made the landing. The Eagle has landed pitch black, is that the ramp??

Loaded up the boats and then had dinner around ten-thirty that night, off to bed.

Up at five am, looking forward to the whole day on the water, we were the first boats on Texas hole as it was just getting light, but not the first people on the river. There were two guys waist-deep in the headwaters that feed the Texas hole, they stayed there all day and killed it. The rumor was they were Russian. They must have been as they had ice running through their veins because that water is cold, and they were there for at least eight hours. They must have caught well over fifty fish between them that day. It seemed to me they were high sticking indicators in very fast-moving water and hitting the edges as the water flowed into the deeper pool. Very impressive, as we were on the other side of them in deeper water.

Matt and Steve caught some fish along with Dave, and I did not. The wind was picking up and gusting pretty strong along with the weeds making it a little difficult. After about four hours, we decided to head downstream; we drifted through the Texas hole and past the first rapid. At this point, we tied up the boats on either side of the rapids. We got out and waded alongside the deeper water. I hooked a nice rainbow that jumped out of the water, gave me the finger and spat my fly out!

The wind was now howling with white caps coming back up the river towards us; Matt was looking worried. There was still about five miles to row down, but the wind was now almost gale force; it would be next to impossible to row down. We huddled up, and all decide that the best we could do would be to walk the boats back up the rapids alongside the banks and eventually get to the deeper water and row back up to Texas hole where we could get the boats out.

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The forecast turned out to be twenty-seven mile per hour winds with gusts up to who knew!!! Whitecaps galore!!!

Now Dave started rowing with Matt in his boat just behind us. We were all rowing against the down current that was strong. Having done a lot of ocean sail racing, I knew the wind was now our friend. I stood up on our bow, opened my jacked, and spread my arms like a spinnaker sail, and the race was on!!! We took off; Matt was looking on in his top of the line brand new Willies boat that had every gadget known to man on it. Except for a sail, who knew! We won the sailing regatta that day on the San Juan. Unfortunately for us, there was no cup this time at the end of the race!!!

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So now what to do? There was still plenty of time so back to the hole, and yes, those Russians were still there, catching machines. In fact, on closer inspection, I think they were some sort of new Soviet fishing inventions, some kind of robotics being tested. Fish on, Fish On, Fish Bloody On!!!!! Give it a rest go home mate!!! Never did find out what flies they were using; I think they were also robotic flies that chased the trout down!! Honest, that makes a lot of sense!!!

We struggled on, Matt did better and so did Steve, Dave caught a couple and also lost a huge brown; Dave to me fish on, Dave it’s really big – get the net!! I jumped up the fish came over to my side of the boat, all golden brown and huge, I started to reach down with the net, and the fish just rolled over and dove deep, snap gone!!! A Beast for sure.

We all fished on; at this point, I was getting desperate! I had tried all kinds of flies, and yes, I know, you have to use tiny flies on the San Juan. I was using flies at this point that were so small I could hardly see to put them on my 6 x tippets. I was using cheater glasses 2.75 and magnifiers over those that were four times magnification!!!! So small we were!!! Still no fish, for the hell of it, I put on a green weenie and bang my first and only rainbow of the day!!!! It was now around five-thirty, and we were all so windblown that we all decided to head in. Loaded the boats and off for food and a couple of beers!!!

At the restaurant, we ordered our food, and I asked what beers do you have? Sorry, it is Sunday, and we do not sell alcohol! Now to a Welshman that is fighting words, no beer!!! Seriously!!! Yep!! Well, so be it! Soda water is not so bad!

Matt saved the day; these Arizonan guides are nothing but resourceful!! To be clear, Matt was not guiding us in Mexico; it was his time off, and by the look on his face when he saw me casting, I could tell he was truly happy he was not guiding me!!!

Matt said, let’s get some ice cream at the shop. Great idea, as we entered, I saw a woman buying beers over the counter, What? I asked the guy behind the counter; we can buy beer here on a Sunday??? Yep, of course, so ice cream and beer it was!!! Well, I passed on the ice cream! A few beers later, a hot shower, and I was gonzo asleep in ten nanoseconds!!!

The next morning, we were the first people on the water. Matt was staying another day, so he launched his boat while Dave and I waded the top of the fast-moving water into Texas hole. Matt and Steve did well in their boat, moving around the hole. There were plenty of boats on Texas hole with a lot of guys wading all along the river; it was pretty busy.

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Dave and I both caught a couple of nice fish with the highlight for me one nice brown, not huge, but fat and heavy that took me a while to bring to the net. At around ten, we bagged it and packed up for home.

Matt sent me an update on their fishing on Monday after we left. They fished Texas hole, catching four or five fish then drifted down to the take out point, catching a few more. It was windy but not as strong as on Sunday. On Tuesday they hit Texas hole in the morning fishing the top end plus drifting around, in the faster water at the head of Texas hole. They did catch four or five fish with a few more added before they left around ten thirty.

Matt did find out when he talked to a local guide that the lake above that feeds the San Juan was just starting to turn over, so that would account for the extra weeds and slight color to the water. General consensus is that after about another week or so the river will return to normal and will be excellent fishing again.

 Till the next time, may there be no wind and no weeds!!!!

Fly Fishing 2 & 3 weight rods for small Bass and hold over Trout

Yesterday we decided to fish the Salt river on light rods as most of the Bass are on the smaller side.

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Great sport seeing the rod bent over with a gigantic/small Bass in reality fighting for its life. He did not know we are all about catch and release!

This time of year the powers to be are slowly turning the flows down, yesterday it was at 500 cubic feet per second,where as last week it was at 400 cubic feet. A bit of surprise as it was higher a week later! Also to note on the fishing runs we know that fish well, they seemed to fish a lot better at 400 rather than 500 cubic feet. Conditions were the same other than the water flow.

Many small size bass later we decided to head up to a couple of runs that we know have hold over rainbow trout hidden away.

These fish are very picky but if you hook one they run and fight very well. Marc caught two that day, I did not not. The last one he caught was very full in the stomach might have been feeding on crawdads as there are a lot in this river. Both the Bass and the trout took a mixture in color of woolly buggers stripped back at various depth and speeds. That seems to be the fly of choice this time of year for us. I would be interested in anyone’s else comments on what they have been having success on.

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Catching a fighting Bow on a light 2 weight rod is really fun and this boy did not want to come to the net. He took off into the fast moving water and was a real handful to bring to the net.

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Rest assured that we made sure he was in great shape before we released him back into his wild domain. These trout deserve a lot of respect to have survived in this warmer river they have to stay deep in the bigger pools to get into cooler water. This is after all a desert water river system. The out side air temp was at 92 Fahrenheit that for us desert dwellers is cooling down from the mad days of summer at over 110 Fahrenheit.

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So if you want some great sport use light rods and head to the Salt River in Arizona you will not be disappointed 

Fly fishing in a river from 1000 cubic feet per second to 48000 cubic feet per second back to 400 cubic feet per second water flow!

Have you done it? Fly Fishing a river with water flow fluctuation from one thousand cubic feet per second to Forty-Eight Thousand cubic feet per second water flow back to four hundred cubic feet per second in just over six days’ time line.

We get a lot of monsoon rain here in the desert and a week ago last Monday we had such a storm. The rain was so heavy on the Salt river lakes system that at two am in the morning they had to release water to protect the dam systems along the Salt. The last lake is Saguaro Lake with a dam that needed to be protected.

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So, open the flood gates and wham Bam!!!! I always wonder if there are any night fishermen and what happens to them. I am sure they open gradually to give humans and animals time to get out of the way!!!!

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When we fished it yesterday, five days after the event, it was amazing to see how the power of the water had changed the directions on part of the river beds plus flattening twenty feet tall Bamboo brush and small trees.

There are some pathways along the river sides that now showed debris, brush, wood, trees as high as twenty plus feet above our heads, crazy to think that fish can figure out where to hide in such a torrent!

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I have read it takes time for the fish to settle back in to the now normal after such advents, well five days in this instance was fine. I have fished the Salt many times in lower water conditions so I have a good understanding of the river beds and flows. We were lucky in that some of my hidden runs and pools had not suffered to much damage.  The surprise was how well they fished.

I was using a sinking line with two flies attached, one a black woolly bugger, the other more of an olive-green color. Marc was using floating line with a long tippet that he weighted down with a purple semi leech. Both of us stripping the lines at different speeds and depths. It was crazy we were taking a fish just about on every cast, many times we both hooked up at the same time. He was about hundred yards down of me, plenty of small aggressive Bass.

We spent about forty minutes on this run then slowly moved further up the river taking bass all along the way.

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Around five o clock we were pretty high up the river, near the dam in the distance when we came across two perfect ripples running into a slower deeper pool, perfect trout habitat!!! Low and behold we both ended up catching a hold over rainbow trout each. They fight like hell and are very powerful, reminds me of the wild rainbows at Lees Ferry!!! Bullshit I hear!!! Believe me these trout were fit muscular and taking no prisoners a lot of fun!!!!

I actual hooked a bigger one that as I brought to the net, spat out the fly and gave me the finger!! It was a decent size fish, that is when I called Marc over. I could see the skeptical look on his face.

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Three cast later he was holding a nice rainbow with a big grin on his face!!!

Five hours of recce and fly fishing only forty-five minutes from Down Town Phoenix in a desert, can you image the possibilities if only we could get a constant flow year-round of say three hundred cubic feet per second!!! Too much to ask? apparently so!!!

Woods Canyon Lake Mogollon Rim Arizona

Three of us set out at four am in the early morning dark to head out for a day of testing Dave’s new drift boat in the lakes of the high mountains in Arizona.

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It turned out to be a beautiful day, but we did have strong blustery winds that made rowing for Dave hard work. Thankful we had an electric troll motor with us that saved the day.

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We ended up in the morning fishing the East southern end by the dam, we found shoals of Tiger trout mixed in with rainbows. It was a day of sight casting as they moved around. So much fun we used dry flies, hoppers, we stripped green woolly buggers with copper john nymphs behind all worked.

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On more than one occasion, we all three had fish on, it was nothing for two of us to have fish on at the same time! Dave’s drift boat is wonderfully stable with a lot of room for three bigger guys.

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Marc is left handed and I am right handed so we both fished from the bows with no interference form each other lines, although on occasions he would have a fish on and i would and we would cross over or under each rod, crazy fun. Dave was at the stern at the back dodging fly lines all day!!!!! No not really we all fish sequential with  each other, waiting our turn to cast when the other was in the water or changing flies or taking off fish !!!! It was one of those days you dream about, for the purist they are probably shacking their head! that’s not what it is about!!!

Let me tell you, what ever you feel or think catching between us well over one hundred plus fish is crazy fun as it does not often if at all happen!!! I am being conservative on the catch rate!! There were other boats around us doing exactly the same thing! In fact on one of the other boats his dog caught four fish!!!  Honest!!! That’s a fish tail by the way.

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Later in the day we moved off to the North West part of the lake which was sheltered from the wind, far up we came to the end where it gets very shallow and narrow. The fish were rising all over, we all put on Hoppers of different sizes and we were back into the thick of it, a take just about every cast.

The interesting thing was that often they would hit the fly then chase it down three or four time, sometimes you would hook other times they were gone. On the bank over looking our casting area there was a crowd of people watching and spin casting almost on the edge and the trout were still feeding like crazy. They were not like the spooky stream trout we usually chase.

The fun part was putting out a long cast and as the fly hit, bang, strike on landing, other times they would come and nudge the fly then strike.

At around two thirty in the afternoon we called it a day, we were all tired arms and wrists feeling all the casting, a day to remember and reflect on when we are back to normal chasing spooky fish with little to show.

This was a day of catching and fishing!!!!