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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!!!

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Gila Trout and Coral Snakes

Had an epic day out on the streams of high country Arizona. Chasing the Gila Trout. Plenty of people away from the stream walking but nobody fishing on the stretch I was on. I am not pretending to be any expert and my advise is just hopefully useful to some. No ego, just information to be used or thrown away.
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The water was a little lower than last time but still has good color, also helping was a slight overcast cloud cover for most of the time.
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I am like a broken record but what works works!!!. As we all know you have to find where the fish are feeding so playing around with depth is important till you get some action.
 
In this case most of the runs were about 4 to 5 feet deep. Under a small indicator 2 feet down black woolly bugger, I put a small split shot right on the head of the fly, most people do not, 2 feet down size 20 midge Black & silver. Cast up into the moving water slow drifts and game on!!
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Plenty of good fighting trout only fished for 6 hours from 9-30 to 3-00 pm approx. I did land 2 fish that were at least 16″ plus and fat in the shoulders took me awhile to bring in on 6 x tippet. While taking the midge out of the first one he jumped out of my hand before i could take the selfie!!!. The next big one i put the net in the water to take my camera out and he just swam off the edge of the net giving me the finger!!! Well I had the memory!!!!
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Also of interest caught a few very small wild rainbows beautiful markings, these guys were very aggressive taking the fly as soon as it hit the water and just starting to sink!! No big rainbows this day I think the Gila Trout have taken over!
The wild life in Az is so diverse, yesterday I had a very close encounter with a coral snake, literally next too me second most venomous snake in the world. Rare to see, the good news they have less than effective poison delivery system!!!! Good news.
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As you all know I tend to fish 4 or 3# weight fly rods in these small waters so the experience is so much fun you can not over power these guys and even the smaller guys put up a great fight. I always take plenty of time to make sure they are revived.

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!!!

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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!!!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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 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 

Chasing Sonora Suckers( Catostomus Insignis) on a Fly rod on the Salt river AZ

I  Fly fish for Rainbow trout in the winter on occasions on the Salt river, using light  6 x tippets. This has led me to hooking onto some pretty decent size suckers, only almost immediately for them to break my tippet  leaving me with the feeling of how did I just lose that big fish?

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With that in mind, after many failed attempts of landing these great fighting fish, I decided to experiment with my leaders. I use the typical  Five X nine foot leader with a six x tippet. Great for the trout, but not for bigger fish. I took an old leader, Rio Fluoroflex plus, cut down the top of the butt section to about four foot, then added three feet of three x, followed by three feet of four x, then the last three feet of five x. I know that is longer than normal but these fish also like to live in pretty deep pools in the river, you have to get down to them as they are mostly bottom feeder, not to say they do not take flies on the surface they do! Mostly though they stay deep in the day, at night or early morning they will rise for hatches.

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I still wanted to catch trout, so I was hopeful the five x would be OK for these smaller rainbows. Also on this set up I use a strike indicator that you can just run the line through the top of the indicator. This indicator has a small screw down system that is easy for being able to move the indicator up and down to very the depth of the flies underneath. Simple no fuss!!!

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I fished the lower part of the Salt where the Verde river merges  in the morning,the water was stained with decent flow. I had a few small hits trying many different flies and set ups, but no fish. At two in the afternoon decided to drive up to the upper part of the Salt river. I parked by blue pool, but decided to go down river as there were to many bait fishermen in that area.

This part of the river the water is shut down to about ten cubic feet per second in the winter, so the flow is very small, but there are deep left over pools that the fish all hunker down in, waiting for the flow to be turned back on at the end of march,  running about fourteen hundred cubic feet per second. In these deep pools there are Bass, Catfish, Trout, Sonora suckers, carp and blue gills.

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I crossed the river to get to this pool, casting into the moving flow and across soon landing rainbows in the eight to twelve inch range. I was using  two nymphs under my indicator. The bottom nymph was a size eighteen red and black in color with the top nymph being black and silver both have worked well in the past. My technique is to let the indicator swing with the little current then very slowly pull the nymph back in, letting any Eddie current take it where it will. I find if you have a little movement in the slacker water it works well.

 

I always start in the shallower water then as I move into deeper water I put the nymphs down almost on the bottom. If you are too deep you catch the weeds, so just shorten the length a little until you find the correct depth. Sonora suckers usually strike hard and deep, you will feel the weight of the fish as they take off and you must let them run, it is great fun they will take you down to the backing if it is a big fish, great on a five weight fly rod, even better on a four weight! One hour into the afternoon I hooked a nice fish that took off, he ran three or four times on the reel before I could finally bring to the net. This fish felt a lot bigger than he was, but still a nice fish, beautiful colors, golden brown.

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I do not know why people turn their noses up at these fish, they may not taste good, I do not know as I catch and release whatever I catch, but fight! for their size they are great!!

The afternoon turned out to be productive with about twelve rainbows, one bass and of course my fighting Sonora sucker. The small trout took my five x tippet, no issues and I caught my target fish. The test will come when I hook one of those big four lb fish, I cannot wait!