Friday, November 25, 2016

Hayesville, NC: Fires Creek and Hiwassee River

I met up with John at the McDonald's in Murphy, and then drove on up to Fires Creek.  We parked at the bottom and scouted for a few minutes. The water was extremely low, and there were tons of visible fish.  I started out with a big red soft hackle type of fly I had tied the night before and got into a few fish. I moved up to a pool that John was fishing. No movement to the water, and a lot of fish, but they were tough to catch.  John caught a nice brown, and then I moved up stream.  Although we saw a lot of fish, they were easily spooked.  We caught about 10 between the two of us - which is far fewer than we should have caught.
We then grabbed lunch and headed down to the Hiwassee. I was excited to try to catch some wild fish.  We fished for an hour or two and did pretty well. I love those wild fish (see first pic above).

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tuck DH Report

Saturday morning John and I decided to try out the new DH section of the Tuck at Bryson City.  Our cabin was just five minutes away, so we hit the water and had the whole river to ourselves.  I quickly made my way downstream fishing a big rubber leg stone fly.  I didn't have much luck, so I tied on 6x tippet and put on a lightning PT, that I had tied not long ago.  I got in to a few fish rather quickly, high sticking some runs.  I then started swinging the fly at the tail-outs and began hooking up more frequently. Then I caught the above brookie, which is the best looking brookie I've caught in a DH stream.  Sure, I've caught bigger, but none so pretty.  I moved to the next run and started catching fish on about every cast.  I caught about 30 fish and suddenly the river was flooded with anglers, including a bunch of drift boats.   I got out of the river.  30 fish in two hours, and I was ready to call it a day!  John had made his way down to the area where I caught the big brookie. I pointed out the spot where the fish were holding, while I took a seat on the bank.  John started hooking fish on just about every cast.  Then, he got into a nice fish.  I played guide and netted the fish for him. Ugly as heck, but a brute:
We had caught about 50 fish between the two of us in 2.5 hours, and it was getting rather crowded.  We jumped in the truck and headed to the fly shop in Bryson City.  I got some new fly line, a cup of really good coffee, and we decided to try a spot on an island near town.  We got there and the good water was taken.  We went as far away as we could get.  Once again, the fish were thick in the shallow riffles.  We fished for another two hours, and caught at least another 50 fish.  We then went to the local brewery and watched football and drank beer.  The beer was great.
We didn't have to fish anymore, but we decided to regardlesst. This time we went all the way to the top of the DH. It was getting dark, and the fishing slowed down significantly.  I caught a nice brown and a large rainbow, and we called it a day.  A wonderful day of fishing!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Big Snowbird DH Report

I drove up to meet some folks at Big Snowbird on Friday morning.  The fires were burning all over, but we figured it wouldn't be quite as bad around Big Snowbird.  I got there around 10:30 a.m. and went straight to a pool that has always produced. Sure enough I spotted a big Brookie. I tied on 6x tippet and a size 18 rainbow warrior and got the big guy on my first cast. It took me a while to bring him in, but I got him to hand.  Somewhere around 18-20 inches.  I then worked downstream - picking up some fish here and there.  I got to another good pool where the fish were stacked up, and landed a variety of fish using the warrior.  A guy showed up and started fishing about 20 feet from me, so I moved down stream, and picked up a few more bows and brookies.  Around 1:00 I went back to the truck and drank a beer and ate a banana.  I had caught at least 20 fish, and was pretty much done. I went to find the other guys I was with, and as I was walking on the road, I noticed a run full of fish.  I stood on the bank and highsticked the run, catching 11 fish in 11 casts.  I don't have any idea how many fish I caught during the rest of the day, but it was a significant number. Snowbird has never let me down this time of year.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Toccoa DH - fishing report

I just couldn't resist - I knew the Toccoa DH had been stocked a few days prior.  The weather was perfect.  The flow was low, but I knew it wasn't too crowded because I went to the river with one of my kids to have a look earlier in the day. I snuck out around 3:00 p.m. and stringed up the 10 foot 4 weight with a PT style nymph.  It started a little slow.  I picked up a couple, and then lost a really nice one. I made my way downstream, catching a few here and there, but still not as hot as I thought it would be.  I got below an island and hooked into a nice fish. I had just changed to a Patrick's Rubber Legs, and this fish (shown above) put up a pretty good fight on the 4 weight.  I worked by way down about 1/2 a mile, and caught a few more. Then I walked back upstream and put in at an area that always holds fish.  I saw trout all over in the shallow water - they were stacked up and scattering like they didn't know they belonged in a river. I caught a couple more, and then got out of the river due to a prior engagement.  All in all, a good day on the water.  Over a dozen nice fish in less than two hours.  I sure hope we get some rain, though, because these fish probably won't last long in the low water conditions.

Lightning PT

Friday, October 28, 2016

Smith Optics: Amazing Customer Service!

I wrote a post about three years ago concerning some bad experiences I had with Costa Sunglasses.  About a year ago I switched to Smith Optics, and wrote a review here.  Basically, I was quite happy with the performance and fit on the Smith Polarized glasses.  A few weeks ago I was forced to submit a warranty claim with Smith Optics due to an issue with the nose pad.  Smith Optics handled my claim within a few days, and I couldn't be happier with their customer service.  Smith Optics clearly stands behind their products.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Born under a bad sign - Toccoa Tailwater

Sometimes things are just too perfect.  Saturday was one of those days.  Friday afternoon the temperature dropped.  It was below 40 degrees Saturday morning.  The temperature topped out at around 60 degrees.  Hardly a cloud in the sky.  The Toccoa generator was scheduled to shut off around 1:00 p.m. I debated between going to the Toccoa Tailwater at Curtis Switch or heading up to the mountains to fish Noontootla.  I decided on the former, and headed to Curtis Switch around 4:30.  I got to the parking lot/boat launch - not a single car. No anglers on the water.  It was either a perfect day, or something was wrong.  I checked the river thinking maybe the flow was too high for wading, but it was perfect flow for wading.   A few caddis were rising as I put on my waders, and a nice hatch of midges was coming off as well.  I had the whole stretch of river to my self, a hatch, and my six weight strung with some new flies I wanted to try.  
Then.... I stepped into the water.     
Hmmm. . . . Sure feels warm.  I usually get a little cold wading the Toccoa, but not today. I put my hand in the water - it felt like it was close to 70 degrees.  I waded downstream and immediately noticed blooms of something growing off the bottom.... and thick too.  I made my way quickly to my favorite spot about 1/3 mile downriver - I always see fish and catch fish in this section.  An extremely thick hatch of midges was coming off the water, mixed with some size 12 caddis (maybe October caddis?), but there were no fish rising. 
What looks like bubbles and colored white in the photographs are actually bugs.  
I switched to a size 18 rainbow warrior - usually this fly is a slump buster for me.  I got a fish within a cast or two, but it was a large hornyhead, and not the trout I was looking for.  I saw a few small trout rising, but they were few and far between, and very small.  I got out of the water after fishing for about 1.5 hours, and headed back home.  
I've had some tough days on the Toccoa, but that was many years ago.  The river looks to be in bad shape.  I'm not sure of the cause, though I suspect the extremely dry and hot summer has created a lack of cold water in the lake.  I sure hope we get some rain soon. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Deschutes River

 We flew into Portland, Oregon on Thursday.  Our host, Curt, who is an avid steelhead angler and lives near Portland, Oregon, immediately took us to a local bar for lunch and some good local brew.  We then went to the grocery store, and picked up some food for dinner.  Curt is single, no kids, and has a sweet house.  We cooked amazing pizza in his wood fire outdoor oven and then watched a movie in his gigantic home theater.  The next morning we hit the road at about 7 a.m. with the toon in tow.  We went to a local fly shop near the Deschutes and were met with bad news.  The river was blown out in the section we were planning to fish. Apparently the White River flows into the Deschutes and makes the visibility in the water very poor. We decided that despite the bad fishing conditions, we would head down river and enjoy a good camping trip.  We floated for about 2 hours and set up camp. Curt had us set up like a luxury outfitter.  We had cots, sleeping pads, and even a gas fire pit.  Curt cooked us three meals a day, and we had ample whiskey and beer.  He even packed a $100 bottle of red wine.  We fished the river hard for three days without a steelhead to show for it.  We did pick up a few rainbows (by accident) and saw a lot of wildlife and beautiful scenery.   We spoke with at least 20 other anglers, and nobody had caught a steelhead.  I wasn't really expecting to catch a steelhead on this trip, so there was no disappointment. I wanted to experience the Deschutes, and we did so, in a first class manner.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On the Vise: Tying up some Meat!

I went off script, and worked on tying up some articulated streamers last weekend. I didn't have a pattern to imitate or really anything except an image in my head of some type of small bait fish that might attract a spawning brown.  It took me a few attempts to get something resembling what I had in my mind.  This was the first time I had ever tried to stack deer hair, and I have to admit, I love this stuff.  I can't wait to tie up some more and give them a go with the eight weight this fall.  And no, the golf balls are not part of fly!  I wanted to use them to show the length and proportions of the flies.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

On the Vise: Articulated Purple

I finally decided to do it - I tried to tie an articulated streamer. I was tying flies for an upcoming steelhead strip to Oregon, so I thought I would give it a go.  I'm excited to try them out!

On the Vise: Red Headed Step Child of a Half-breed

I was told that a fly called the "half breed" was a good fly to use on the Deschutes River in Oregon.  I looked online and couldn't find a recipe, but I found a picture and did my best, with the materials at hand, to put together something that somewhat resembles the fly.  Again, I was limited by supplies, and no recipe.  At any rate, I kind of like the look of the fly. I'm going to tie up a few more and take them to Oregon and give them a go.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

On the Vise: B&P Hot Bugger

* Hook: TMC 9395 Size 6
* Bead: hot pink 4.8 mm
* Weight: .030 wire 15-20 wraps
* Thread: 140 ultra thread black
* Tail: (a) black strung marabou; (b) purple strung marabou
* Body: Medium black rayon chenille
* Hackle: black strung Chinese
* Rib: blue sparkle braid

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Wild Bow on the Toot

I took an hour and went up to Noontootla on Sunday with my new stick.  The water was lower than I've ever seen it, but the weather was beautiful and there were a few fish to be had.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Finished product - 7'9" 4 weight bamboo fly rod

Finished up the bamboo project in Blue Ridge late Saturday evening. I paired the rod with a Hardy and it looks good to me.  I'll try it out fishing tomorrow.

Monday, July 4, 2016

On the Vise: Crane Fly Larva

I did not have the materials to tie this fly properly; however, I made do with what I had and came up with something that I think will hunt.

Hook: Size 8 Model 21
Weight: .30 lead free wire
Tail: White Zeon
Body: Olive Brown dubbing
Thread: Ultra Thread 140 black
Rib: ultra wire silver BR
Thin Skin

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Toccoa River - Fishing Report

The Toccoa tailwater has been pushing a little bit of extra water lately due to an issue with the dam. I thought since I was going to be in Blue Ridge over the long weekend I might give it a float.  I set up my one man toon the night prior and set the alarm for 5:30.  Just before going to bed, one of my kids got sick, and my wife suggested that perhaps going fishing in the morning was not a good idea.  I turned off the alarm.  Around 9:00 a.m. the next morning our oldest was feeling okay, so I got the yard pass. I had everything rigged up - I went down to Tammen Park and prepared to launch. I was surprised - the water did not seem any higher than the normal zero generator flow.  I talked to some folks at Tammen and was advised the water was low.  I had come too far not to fish, so I put in.  I wanted to get away from the crowds so I paddled on down towards the first really good spot.  There was a canoe with three bait chuckers anchored up pulling fish after fish, and loading them on a stringer.  I saw a couple of nice fish, but decided to keep floating. I was also nervous that if the water really was at normal zero generator flow, I would end up on the water for 8-9 hours.  I floated and fished for a while and got nothing.  I started with a big western stonefly pattern that I picked up from Montana.  Not even a hit or a chase. I then switched to a big ugly streamer that I had tied the night before.  Still, nothing was hitting as I floated and fished.  
About 2 miles into the trip I stopped at a nice riffle and tied on a black streamer type pattern I tied a while back.  I immediately caught a small brown. A few casts later I caught a 14 inch brown - a nice fish.  I then moved on down to another nice run.  I started getting strikes on my black streamer, but missed a lot of nice fish. I got a few more to hand, but lost some really good fish.  I then decided to start making time, and paddled my toon down until I got to the golf course. I lost a few flies floating and fishing, and ended up with a big wire stonefly on the end of my line, and landed a few more.  I ended up with a 1/2 dozen - all browns. 
The fishing was slow, but I had a good time.  It turns out, the water was slightly higher than normal, as I made it the whole nine miles in less than 6 hours and never once had to drag the toon.  I only stopped to fish two or three times.  I'm looking forward to the Fall on the Toccoa Tailwater.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

On the Vise: CDC Golden Stone

Gubna's CDC Golden Stone
This is a variation of a similar fly tied by Charlie Craven.  The above is my first attempt, and I know there are many flaws.  The recipe is as follows:

Hook:    Size 8 stonefly hook
Thread: Hopper Yellow 140
Bead: Gold (prefer tungsten)
Weight: .30 lead free wire
Tail: Pheasant Tail
Abdomen/Thorax/Neck:  Gold dubbing
Collar:  Light dun CDC and brown hackle
Shellback= Pearl tinsel (large)

Segmentation: Black wire (as small as you're comfortable handling)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Worth a try: short trip to the upper toccoa

My parents were in town from Alaska, so I rigged my dad up with a three weight and we took a few hours to fish the upper toccoa in the DH section. Of course, the DH is over, and the water was a little warm, but I figured there might be a few trout in there. We hiked down to the most remote spot on the DH and started fishing.  We only caught a couple, but it was good to throw some line with my dad - something I don't get to do very often.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Toccoa DH Report: 3/27/2016

After going to Church on Easter I wanted to hit the river again.  I had about an hour and I made the most of it.  I was able to wade out to my favorite area on the river.  I immediately got into some fish.  The fly of the day was a frenchie around a size 16. I was actually using a two nymph system to get the fly down, with the frenchie as the bottom fly.  I fished the same set-up for the entire hour. There were some quality fish - I ended up with  about a dozen in an hour, including one that was around 15 inches. I lost a quality fish after a long fight. The fish jumped out of the water 6 times and I just couldn't muscle him out of the current.  He finally jumped a 7th time and spit the hook. With my 4 weight rod and 6x tippet, it was a losing battle.  Still, a great hour of fishing.  Nobody else on the water made it even more enjoyable.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Toccoa DH Report - 3/25/16

I was able to head over to Blue Ridge after lunch on Friday.  The weather was perfect.  I got to Blue Ridge around 3:30 and rigged up my four weight. I made my way over to the Toccoa DH at the lower end.  There was a guy fishing a favorite spot, so I went downstream a ways. The current was the best I've seen it in months: around 550 cfs.  High enough for some deep runs, but low enough to wade as long as you're careful. Right before I started I chatted with a guide who had just floated the river. He said the fishing was slow, and the only thing working were egg patterns and psycho prince style nymphs.  I got on the river and started with an ultimate warrior - a big prospecting pattern I've been using with a lot of success. For whatever reason, the fish weren't liking what I was offering.  I made my way down river and in spots I normally catch fish, I was getting nothing.  As I worked my way down I switched up to a double nymph rig. On top, I tied on a pink nymph, and then dropped a frenchie on 5x tippet.  My leader was about 12-13 feet long.  I got to a spot and suddenly the fish became active.  I got about 6 to hand, then the fishing slowed.  I got out of the water and went up river a little ways.  I waded across and started high sticking some runs.  High sticking wasn't getting me any fish, so I started casting and dead drifting the nymphs like a streamer.  I ended up with another half dozen to hand, and then called it a day. The fishing was a little slow, but productive nonetheless.   

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Toccoa DH Report

I was in Blue Ridge, Georgia over the weekend and decided to take a few hours and wet a line Saturday afternoon.  The weather was spectacular.  I was planning to head up to Noontootla, but on my way up I couldn't resist stopping by the Toccoa DH.  The water is still really high. I think it was about 1050 cfs - normal safe wading is around 350 cfs.  I managed to get in and over to a shallow run that I like to fish.  I started with a red headed black betty that I tied a short while ago.  Despite the size of the fly, it was quite productive euro style.  After about 10 fish, I wanted to try some different flies. I switched to a Holographic Ultimate Warrior, and surprisingly, caught nothing.  After a few drifts I switched to Frenchie. I immediately caught a few nice bows.  I then switched to a purple zebra midge, tied in the same method as the Hot Spot Blood Red Zebra Midge.   After a few unproductive drifts I dropped a slightly larger PT off the bend of the Midge, and immediately started catching more fish.  As I mentioned earlier, the weather was outstanding - probably around 55 degrees, but the water was cold. My feet started to get numb, and I didn't want to be on the water once the sun went down, so I made my way back to shore and called it a good day.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Toccoa DH Report

I went up to Blue Ridge, Georgia for the weekend. The weather was cold.  I went to the TU meeting Saturday morning, and decided to wet a line for an hour or two that afternoon. The temp was right around freezing. The water is still too high throughout most of the DH for safe wading.  I managed to get out in the river at a shallow part of the DH and fish a few runs.  I caught a handful of bows in an hour.  Considering the temperature, such a result wasn't too bad.   I suspect barring any signficiant rain the DH will be good-to-go in another week or two.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

Toccoa DH Fishing Report

I was able to find a few hours to fish the Toccoa DH this weekend.  The water is still a little high for "safe" wading, but I know the river well enough to pick and choose the spots that are safe.  On Saturday, I started out by stopping at a popular spot on the lower stretch. I let my boys make a few casts with a spinning rod. They each caught a nice bow. We then went for a hike. It was obvious to me based on the ease by which my boys each caught fish that a stocking had taken place very recently.  Late that afternoon I returned to the river and fished for about an hour in the lower section. There were quite a few folks floating and fishing. Surprisingly, my streamer patterns were unproductive.  After about 30 minutes a huge hatch came off. I'm not sure what they were, but they looked like caddis. I've never seen a hatch on the Toccoa like what I saw on Saturday afternoon.  I put on a small frenchie and caught a good number of bows.  The wind picked up, so I started fishing a large pattern (size 8) I developed for DH fishing.  It worked on the swing pretty well, but surprising, it worked with great effect by high sticking.  I lost the fly towards the end of the day, but not before I had caught and landed a large number of fish.
I woke up Sunday morning and sat down at the bench to tie two more of a fly I'm going to call "The Ultimate Warrior."  I went up to the middle section of the DH on Sunday.  I put in at a favorite spot and proceeded to catch about a dozen in short order. The fish were very good fighters. I then moved up to the power lines and made my way across the river.  Wading across the river was extremely difficult, and I don't recommend it.  After landing a few more I worked my way downstream trying to figure out how I was going to get back across the river.  I worked my way about 1/4 mile downstream and used tree branches near shore to help me through the heavy current and on to the shore.  I managed to fish The Ultimate Warrior the whole time - which was about two hours.  I spoke to another guy who was doing well on a big prince.  I think just about anything will work right now on the Toccoa DH.  I still can't quite figure out why the buggers didn't work for me.  My only guess is that because the current is a little heavy, and the buggers I tied were very light and bushy, the flies were not getting into the feeding lane.  The key is to get the flies deep.  Despite nice hatches on both days, I saw very few fish rising.  The fish are obviously fresh but hanging out deep.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ty Wheel

I just started tying flies a couple of weeks ago, and I'm hooked!  I happened to come across something called a TyWheel.  It looks awesome.  Check it out: TyWheel

Monday, January 18, 2016

Blue Ridge Report

It was a cold weekend.  I spent some time tying flies and decided to try a few of my patterns out on the water. I had low expectations. The Toccoa DH is still too high to fish.  I hopped in the truck and made my way towards Noontootla; however, on the drive up I spotted a small stream I've always wondered about.   I knew there was a little bit of forest service land on this creek, so I parked just off the road and rigged up.  The water was high and I wasn't sure if there were trout in this stream.  Much to my surprise, my flies worked and I caught a handful of very small wild bows.  The creek was beautiful, and because it's not more than 10 minutes from my cabin, I'm sure I'll be back.
The next day I drove up to Noontootla. It had snowed a little bit the night before, so it was cold.  I spent an hour or so on the creek, but only managed two small bows.  I guess there's a reason some folks don't fish when the temps are around freezing.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time on the water.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Come Hell or High Water

I had to start the new year out right, but the weather was not really cooperating.  Granted, the actual weather was fine, but the huge amounts of rain in the week or two prior to the New Year had flooded the area around Blue Ridge.  The Toccoa at Dial (the DH area) reached somewhere close to 10,000 cfs just a few days prior.  Normal wading is around 400 cfs.  The river was running close to 3000 on New Years, but I thought I'd stop by and check it out. I tied on a little bugger and threw some line out.  I caught a decent trout on my 5th cast. 

That one bow was enough for me on the delayed harvest of the Toccoa River.  I wanted to fish Noontootla where the water might be a little lower.  I drove up the FS road and was surprised to see some other people fishing, and a fair number of campers. I ended up fishing near 3 forks, a little higher up than I normally fish.  The water was raging pretty good, but still wadeable.    
I rigged up a couple of heavy flies and started highsticking. I immediately hooked into a nice small bow.  Then I moved on down stream and caught a nicer wild bow.  Beautiful fish! 

I fished a little while longer, but only ended up with a couple to hand. Still, it was a wonderful trip considering the circumstances. That evening, I decided to tie my first fly. What a challenge. It didn't turn out very good, but you have to start somewhere!