Chasing Wild Browns in the high desert during the noonday sun. Not Easy!

Slow start to the day arrived on the stream around eleven am, late for us, high desert elevation around seven thousand feet, air temperature very pleasant around seventy Fahrenheit. Water temperature still cool but warmer than the last time we were there.

20200522_123047

This steam works well on hopper dropper combos during the summer when the grasshoppers are out and about. So far this year, we have not seen many hoppers, but still, I decided to give it a go—nice grasshopper with long spindly legs with a size twenty zebra midge underneath. Marc was stripping green-purple leeches.

20200522_122252

The water was pretty low and very clear, stealth was the name of the game, long casts way up into deeper moving water was the order of the day. My first cast missed a brown who took my hopper but missed. Marc was further down, about an hour later we meet up, he had two small wild browns on his belt, me nothing, a fat goose egg!!!

20200522_225847

We decided to go upstream for the rest of the day. Marc tends to fish faster than I do, so we did not see much of each other. However, when I did catch him up, I was about to pass him when he called me over, said there was a nice brown out in the open feeding on the surface about every three minutes. Sure enough, he was there. I did one perfect cast, by luck rather than skill, landed the hopper three feet above him directly in line with a green and black size eighteen nymph trailing about twenty inches underneath. I watched as my hopper went right over his head, nothing, not a flick, watching as my nymph literally hit him on the head. I was thinking about how to recast over to him when he just slowly swam up into the head of the water under a tree on the other side of the bank. Perfect for Marc to have a go. Several casts later nothing, then Marc hooked a branch and lost his fly. That was that. Just as we were leaving that run, Marc looked down, and there was a nice black woolly bugger stuck in a bush right in front of him. Nice swop out. As the Aussies would say, Fair dinkum mate!!!

20200522_230629

After fruitless hours of no hits and not seeing any rises, I was thinking of changing tactics when in a slightly deeper pool, I had a flash nice brown, ok I am going to hunt you down bro! Thirty minutes later, time to change tactics and give this guy a rest.

Sitting away from the run and watching the water, I decided I was going to put on a small beaded copper john about 10 inches under a very small indicator, followed by a size 20 nymph that was red, blue, silver with a slight hackle another twelve inches down on a size six tippet, light and stealthy. Remember, this water is shallow and not moving too fast! Casting up into the faster moving headwater and getting a perfect drift, time, and again nothing. I was starting to think of moving on when he took the nymph, nice fat brown, jumped into the air ran way came back skating on the surface. Shouting to Marc, who was on the next run-up, Got the bugger!!! Reach back for the net, bringing him in across the shallow water dip the net and bam he shook the hook and was gone! At least Marc saw it, not a catch but close no cigar!

Most of you will know this, but I tend to get stuck in a rut when fly fishing on times. You have to mix it up. The point in Hand, stripping flies and dead drifts. Two different techniques, but you can mix the two together.

IMG_4051

I was having no luck on dead drifts; Ok, I hear you; he must have had drag on his flies!!! Not the case. I am pretty good with this presentation, as I have done it many times successfully.

 Towards the end of the day, I started stripping my indicator along the top water. Not too fast to cause a ripple from the indicator but defiantly fast enough to move the flies underneath through the water column. You can adjust the speed to see what works best, but having the flies under an indicator hanging at different depths then moving them it helps you keep the flies at different levels rather than just stripping without an indicator which will be at one level depending on the size and weight of your flies. I had the other hookups using this method.

IMG_4050

We can always learn however. I was fishing with a guide at Lees Ferry AZ last year dead drifting nymphs, my guide came over and said you have some drag on your flies. I looked but did not think so; she re-rigged me with two indicators about eighteen inches apart and told me to recast. I did, and immediately I could see a slight drag on one, it took a while but pretty soon I had them moving in tandem I had eliminated the slight drag I could not see. You live and learn!

The rest of the day was a lot of casting and looking for signs of life. Marc ended up with four landed wild browns. I hooked up another three, but they were soon gone as soon as they took the fly. Never the less a beautiful day in the mountains out chasing wild elusive brown trout in the high desert.

 

Marc is an expert fly fisherman and knows his stuff, I generally muddle along, but there are days and streams when you need the perfect alignment to catch these spooky fish. I always like to remind myself on days like this, it is a badge of honor when you catch these guys, and it is earnt not given!

Golden Trout of Arizona. Gila!!

The Golden trout of Arizona, Gila Trout. Ken Wade and I had another successful trip up into the high desert of Arizona using Black Woolly buggers with a size 20 black & silver nymph.

IMG_4029

For me each run was different, some I had more success letting the flies drop to the bottom then a slow strip back in other runs it was a slow dead drift under an indicator with the bottom fly just off the bottom. It was one or the other so if no luck with the indicator i went to stripping the flies and visa versa. On one cast i ended up with two Gilas on, how cool is that and lucky!! Both flies worked well.

IMG_4026


Ken on the other hand was using a 7 ft 6 ” Bamboo fly rod and mainly hi sticking with a cotton ball as an indicator with nymph under that in the shallow water, then also striping flies in deeper runs.

IMG_4021


After catching many fish i had just ordered a really colorful red and blue with silver sparkle size 20 nymph that looked so fishy.

IMG_4022

Perfect time to try, not one fish did I catch with that fly that day!!! But they look great in my fly box! I know another occasion will present itself and they will do well!!!

IMG_4032

Small trout great fun.

 

It is all about the size! Size matters she says!! what do we care? It is what it is!! However, when it comes to trout on a fly rod, now that is a serious matter! We all see the trophy pictures, the big guys in all their glory!!! I have posted a few with pride; we know how hard they are to catch!

IMG_3934

The other day I was out in the wilds with my trusty fly fishing pal Marc, trekking all over and chasing elusive fish in the noonday sun. We were late as we had a blow out on the rocky trail. Now in this day and age, changing a Tire is supposed to be easy, Right??? Well, Marc and I found out that NASCAR will not be calling us to join their pit crew any time soon!!!! Much head-scratching and wondering if the emergency roadside assistance numbers work out in the middle of nowhere, we finally changed it!!! Time had gone by, and the temperatures where rising the sun was high. Onward and forward!

IMG_3939

Back to size matters, we fished hard and walked and walked chasing those bloody trout, which I think were mostly having their high noon siesta!!! We soon split up as I had hooked a decent brown down deep on a green olive with slight hackles small size 20 nymph. Why that color?? I had tried everything in my box to no avail!!! So what the hell. Anyway I digress, I saw this brown briefly as I played him a beautiful deep brown, silver splash of color then snap he was gone. Since I knew he was there, it was time to hunker down come up with a game plan, go stealth, throw the book, different flies, depths, drifts he was having none of this! Finally, Zero, he was long gone, and so was Marc.

Now I had caught a few rainbows, a couple that looked like hybrids, beautiful colors but I did not photo as I was after the man who I felt for sure was just down the next cast!!!! Eventually, I caught up to Marc, who told me he landed a good solid 18″ brown from one of my favorite runs to fish. I had caught many small wild browns out of this pool, but never the man!!! Great, let me see the photo??? I forgot my phone, and you did not answer my calls out of the wilds, my net man, you let me down, dude!!!!! Now I know how Goose felt back in the day!

IMG_3940

 

We both trudged off going higher up the stream, beautiful day, but temperatures were rising. We caught a fair few small rainbows and Marc a few nice browns!! I have to say that Marc usually pulls a good size brown out of these streams; he is the Brown master!!! I am his net man an honor I have to say!!!

IMG_3936

It gets dark up here this time of year around 7-30 pm, and when I say dark, I mean dark!! This is wild country, and you need to be back at your truck before dark as who knows what comes out to play!!!

IMG_3938

Around six, we decided to head back and fish a few favorite runs on the way down. At this point, I had still not caught any browns. Marc hung back and fished some higher runs. I leaped frog some runs to a run I knew held browns—a couple of casts a few more rainbows, no luck on the brown. I moved into the middle of the run put on a hopper with a trailing nymph red in color, hoping to catch a late-rising feeder. Second drift down at the end of the drift, I slowly raised my fly and Bang fish on, small wild brown so happy, happy, happy, which brings me back to size, who cares? I had just caught a beautiful wild brown trout in the wilds of the high country of Arizona USA!!! Fly Fishing with my buddy Marc. Yea, it does not get any better than that, until  the big One.

IMG_3935

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!

IMG_3671

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.

IMG_3669

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!!!

IMG_3673

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.

IMG_3674

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 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.

IMG_2886

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.

output

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!!!!

output 2

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.

20191019_183408

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.

IMG_2881

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!!!

IMG_2878

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.

20191020_120724

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!!!!

A funny tail of Fly-Fishing approaches to the water

 

Yesterday my friend and I Marc set off for a very remote and hard creek to hike into in the Arizona high mountains.

IMG_2627

I had warned Marc that this was no walk in the park, we set off early Friday morning only getting lost on the drive up once, that did set us back about half an hour. The log roads have very small road markers that are easy to miss.

Anyway, we arrived at our destination with the temperature where we parked hovering around Seventy-two degrees very nice. We knew going down into the canyon below us it would be warmer and it was slightly humid around eighty-six-degree Fahrenheit. The plan for the day was to hike a long way up to explore parts of this creek we had not been to.

Unfortunately for us, the water flow was pretty low, so it came down to fishing the deeper pools when we came across them, which were few and far between, so a lot of hiking!

This is a remote place, so I was very surprised to bump into a father, son combo who were walking and spin fishing downstream, we were walking upstream fly-fishing. I was on the west side of the creek fairly high up climbing on a steep slope looking down on the stream. They were on the East side, walking the banks.

The conversation as follows, me, hi how you are doing any luck? Reply, you fished the holes below us? Me, Yes, and my buddy is behind me following up. How about you? We fished the holes above us. Him, so all the holes are now screwed up? Me, well the lower holes we fished about an hour ago, so they are probably fine now! Him, you fished here before? Me yes sir, how about you? Him, All my life! Him, I was taking my son downstream to teach him that he needs to crawl on his hands and knees the last fifteen feet to the edge of the bank and stay low, as these fish are so spooky. If you catch one fish out of a pool, it is done and done. Well, good luck we are moving on up have a great day!

So, we hiked and fished in the heat of the bright noonday sun, came across some deep pools that you knew were holding some big browns. We tried all different techniques to no avail! Wrong time of day for sure.

Around three in the afternoon hiking thru some dense brush came across some fresh Bear spate, and you could smell the bear he was near. At this point, we had a long hike out so time to head back. A long hike entailed up and down thru bush on the trail on washed-up monsoon rocks in the heat of the day. Hard going.

Eventually, around just past five in the afternoon, we came back to the first fishing hole that we had fished early that morning in the bright sun now in shadow. The first order of the day was to cool off so we got out our filtered drinking straws, got down on our hand and knees and greedily sucked in as much stream water as we could we were seriously getting dehydrated at that point! Next, I took off my cap, filled it with water, and poured numerous times over my head and shoulders all the time knee-deep in the water.

20190823_135507

Marc took it a step further I looked over he was stripping off, and in he went swimming all over the pool. At this point, I was looking at the deep pool I was standing and splashing in thinking, I hate being skunked. I picked up my rod that was set up with a leach and nymph deep under an indicator. I left all my gear on the bank, and waded up to my lower chest into the pool, with about fifteen feet left between the opposite bank and me. I cast my fly in slowly stripping back to give some movement. Third cast in I was retrieving about eight feet from my body in the water when I felt that I had snacked the bottom, slowly lifted my rod only then to realize I had a big, brown trout on that took off!! Fish on playing him, Marc asked, do you need the net which I had left on the bank with all my gear. Yes, sir, I started to walk back over the slippery rocks towards him playing the fish, at that moment the fish took off again I thought I had enough play in my rod tip to absorb the run and did not let some line off, snap he was gone breaking my 4 x leader!!!

So, to my point, on the one hand crawling into the side of the creek, total stealth. On the other hand, swimming in the pool wading deep into it splashing water all over yourself, general mayhem and big fish on just under your nose. That my friends are the joys of fishing, you never know what can happen!

Next, a long slog back up a very steep canyon that took us an hour and seven minutes to reach the top, whos counting I was! If I was going to have a heart attack, this was the place!!!! The last part up Marc took off I was stumbling along behind him mentally trying to get him to stop for a breather, this mind game was not very successful, well if he can do it so can I!!!! Stumbling to the truck, we tried to hand pump only to realize these two fat boys did not have the energy! Back to the gym!!!

Carp on the fly

Hit the canals late on Friday evening in Scottsdale AZ. Temperature 108 Fahrenheit.
Chasing carp on the fly, I have seen some nice fish caught and posted on Instagram so I was inspired to brave the heat. Lost a few lbs in sweat saw a few spooky fish. No luck this time.
In the past I have caught a few but you need patience and stealth they have great  awareness of sound and movement.
There is a growing movement around the country to chase carp on the fly and boy is it fun when you hook into one. They can really take you down to the backing very quickly, just hang on especially with a light fly rod.
Carp from Canal in Phoenix
There are carp all over the country in lakes and streams just do some research and get out there. They generally are on the bigger side and are fast becoming the new game fish of fresh water.
The old stereotype of the carp is slowly evolving into a fun fish to go chase. They are not easy to catch as they are very aware of any changes around them.
However if you do hook into one you will be well rewarded.
I was fishing the Salt river in AZ earlier this year when the water was low, when I looked up stream there must have been ten or so fish heading my way in very shallow water, they looked like torpedoes!! Some of these fish had backs that must have been ten inches wide, these were big boys!!!
I know they are in the deeper pools and have been chasing them ever since. One day I hope to get lucky and just hank on Baby!!!!!