Autumn Fishing and Why I Never Get to Enjoy it

Deer.

That’s why I don’t get to enjoy that fall fish feeding frenzy (and don’t act like y’all don’t enjoy the alliteration).

I realize it’s my own fault.

Why don’t I just leave the poor deer alone and go catch a fish?

I know the bass are feeding aggressively. And the browns and brookies that live a short 2 hours away are getting ready to spawn. This is the best time of year for me to fool a truly big fish on the fly. They want to get fat and they want to do it fast.

I went out just the other day and the bass were already charging around chasing minnows and just feeding hard in general, and it’s just starting to cool down here in the South Carolina upstate. (As a side note I caught very few of these bass due to my insistence on fishing a popper in a very passive way, like it was still the middle summer, instead of putting on the big articulated streamer I finally switch to right before dark and started catching fish. I’m an idiot.)

Large articulated streamer or as I call it my “bigass bass cougar”.

And yet, even though I know the fishing is going to be awesome here in the near future and I should be tying flies and planing trips into the mountains, I can’t stop, even as I’m writing this, from worrying about all the things I still need to do to prepare for the quickly upcoming deer season.

I need meat in my freezer. Not want but need. I have a lot of mouths to feed and I don’t like buying meat from the grocery store for a bunch of hippy-ass reasons I won’t delve into at this particular moment. And I’m kind of unlucky when it comes to deer hunting (read as “I suck at hunting”), so this causes me to spend most to all of my free time during deer season, which is one longest in the country, in the woods.

I think this year though I’ll make a vow – I will not let fall fishing pass me by. I will not obsess about killing a deer. I will chase the hungry bass. I will find the big browns and brookies. I WILL FISH…

Except on Saturdays. Saturdays I’ll hunt. And during the new moon… And maybe right before a big cold front comes through… Or right after…

 

And I’m Back

For those of you that follow me you may have noticed that I haven’t been around much lately. This was not by choice, but due to an “endless summer” that you can read about over on my other blog (that I also spent most of this summer neglecting).

And to be completely honest there hasn’t been a whole lot to write about. I only went fishing twice all summer; once bait fishing (I know some of you are reading those two last words in your internal “EWW GROSS” voice) in saltwater, which I’ve already written about, and once near-shore trolling, which is a story I’m saving in case Marc over at The Limp Cobra ever has another contest for stupidest fisherman.

Well, yesterday I broke my dry streak and finally got out on the water for some fly fishing.

The weather was beautiful. The lake was devoid of any other fisherman. I caught a whole bunch of these:

There was a lot of these in the air:

And I even managed to move a few small bass, though it took me most of the day to figure out what they wanted.

So here’s to summer being over and my favorite time beginning; the school year.

A Walk the Dog Fly?

I’ve been trying off and on for a while now to come-up with a fly that’s relatively easy to tie that has a “walk the dog” action (for those not in the know check this out.) Last night I think I may have done it.

Walk the frog?

It happened completely on accident. I was playing around trying to make a floating articulated fly with a lip that would have a crank-bait like wiggle to use on a sinking line (There! Take that Every day in May!) for bass. The first one I tied looked awesome but didn’t swim the way I wanted and the lip on the one above refused to cooperate. Well, in a fit of “What the hell, I’ll see what’ll happen” I curved the lip under and filled the space with Clear Cure Goo.

What happened was I took it to the bathtub to see how it would swim and found out it zigs one way and zags the other with every light pull of the line.

Friday I’m taking this fly and a few more like it out for a real test. If it goes well I’ll try to post a step by step on how to tie it.

Oh, and if someone has already tied this or a very similar fly and you know about it, please don’t let me know…

Tuesdays FOTD a Day Late – Frog Deer Hair Bass Bug

Deer hair bass bug

Due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to post this fly yesterday like I intended to. Being a stay at home dad (or if you want to be a dick about it “Mr. Mom”) my time is not always my own.

I did eek out enough time yesterday to tie this fly but never got around to taking a good pic. When my relief (read wife) got home from work I headed out the door and to the water as fast as I could. If you were wondering why this fly looks like it was fished hard and put away wet, well…

These were the ones I caught. I don’t want to talk about the ones I missed.

The fly itself is a basic deer hair bass bug tied on a size 1 stinger hook with a tail of split Finnish raccoon fur to give the impression of frog legs.

Finally

Since moving away from my beloved South Carolina lowcountry my luck with fishing has been… Less than stellar. Actually it has pretty much sucked. Hard.

Now, after an eight-month dry streak, my luck has changed.

I planed a fishing trip and got to go. The weather didn’t go to hell once I got to where I was going. The fish were numerous and hungry. And the best part? I caught some of those fish!

One of the some.

I won’t lie to you and tell you it was a 100% awesome big-bass-o-rama. In fact most of the fish were of this caliber…

Not big-bass-o-rama.

and due to a “rod tip malfunction” on my 6wt I had to fish the whole time with the 8wt I brought along for casting hair-bugs, which may have been a bit of an overkill for the bruisers like the one above. Actually most of my hooksets sent the poor little bastards skipping across the water like flat stones, but I CAUGHT FISH!

I will say without shame that I fish to catch fish. On slow days (or slow eight-month stretches) I’ll talk myself into believing that being out, communing with nature, is the most important part of fishing. The reality of it is, I just want to catch a fucking fish. Which, thank god, I finally did.

Hipsters, Rednecks and Tenkara

I don’t want to sound like a hipster, but I was tenkara fishing way before it was cool. Yep, before it became fashionable in the fly fishing community, I was catching fish using nothing but a rod, line and fly. The first fish I ever caught on a fly was fishing “tenkara style”. That was in the 80′s. Tenkara didn’t become mainstream until around 2010. Yea dude, I’m that far ahead of the curve.

I’ll admit that the rods used weren’t the $150, cork gripped, tenkara rods used today. No, me and mine, we used telescoping fiberglass rods known as bream busters” that you could get from K-mart for about $15. These rods were usually used like a canepole to fish worm or crickets for the various sunfish that inhabit the fresh water tidal rivers around where I grew up, but when the time seemed right, like directly after an afternoon thunderstorm or during a calm sunset, we would pull the floats, split shot and hooks off our lines and add a popping bug. These we would “cast” tenkara style to any place we thought looked fishy, more often than not to get a strike as soon as the bug hit the water. Some of largest bass and bluegill I ever took were caught like this.

It always makes me chuckle a little when I read an article, some of which were written by fisherman that I have the greatest respect for (John Gierach and Ed Engle to name a couple), about tenkara. Most of these articles include things about tenkara’s ancient Japanese roots, its simplicity, its beauty, blah, blah, blah. I’m not trying to disrespect this form of fishing, but rednecks on the coastal plains of South Carolina have been fishing like this forever. Fly rods were few and far between where I grew up, but every little country store that sold tackle in my area carried an assortment of cheap popping bugs just for people to use on the ends of their canepoles.

The first time I saw an actual tenkara rod was on the banks of the Beaverkill in New York back in about 2006 (there I go, being all hipster on y’all again). I was fishing near the campground one day when a Japanese gentleman walked down to the river holding what looked to me like the world’s skinniest bream pole. Being curious I walked over and asked him about it. He told me, in broken English, about traditional Japanese fly fishing, showed me some flies he tied and showed me how to “cast” his rod. I told him, in southernese, about my fishing a very similar outfit with bass bugs in my home waters. There was a lot of smiling and nodding and probably very little real understanding of the details of that conversation but I think we both got our points across.

I didn’t really think too much about that conversation until a few years later when I saw an article in a magazine all about tenkara. “Wow,” I thought. “Bream buster fly fishing is going mainstream.”

Lately though I’ve been thinking about getting a tenkara rod. They are much lighter and more delicate, in a good way, than my beloved bream busters and I have a feeling I would really enjoy fishing with one for native brookies up in the Smoky Mountains or, really, for any trout on any small stream. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ll probably end up with a tenkara rod sooner or later, but I swear, as God as my witness, that I’ll never tell anybody back home how much I paid for my fancy bream buster. And I’ll only fish it ironically.