Friday, December 22, 2017

Last trip of the 2017 - Noontootla

I was able to sneak up to Noontootla for about an hour today.  Nice way to end the year with a handful of wild bows!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bass Fishing

It's been a long time since I've been bass fishing, and I've never gone bass fishing in a true bass boat.  Had a blast with a friend of mine.  We only got a couple of hours of fishing, and it was a little slow, but it was a lot of fun throwing the A-Rig and catching a handful of large mouth bass.  Going 70 mph in a boat was a new experience for me!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

9/27/17 - Madison River, plus the last two days

Today turned out to be the last good day of fishing on our trip - at least for me.  We decided to try a spot we've never fished: the Madison River just above Earthquake Lake, but below Hebgen Lake.  I rigged up my 10 foot four weight and tied on a huge stone fly with a tungsten dropper.  I worked
upstream and missed a few fish. I wanted to cover some water, so I worked downstream and got into a few fish.  I then worked a little further down river to some relatively non-descript water and hooked into a really nice Brown.  I had a 15 foot leader, a 4 weight rod, and 6x tippet off the stone fly.  The Brown was on the bottom fly.  I played him for a while - it was fast water and I was on the bank.  I walked downstream along the bank trying to get him into slower water near the bank.  I got him close a few times - close enough to see that it was a really big brown, but I couldn't get him close enough to get a shot at netting him.  After a few minutes, I jumped in the water, and tried to tire him out.  I worked him back and forth, and let him run when he wanted.  I waded down river, which turned out to be a mistake.  He got to a spot in the river with a bucket.  The fish hit the bucket, and bolted down stream.  SNAP!  I was about as mad as I have ever been losing a fish. I figured that was my best shot at a huge Madison River Brown.  I went and sat down for about five minutes and debated on going back to the car.  I gathered my spirits, rigged back up with 5x, and crossed the river to a little island.  From there, I proceeded to catch fish.  They were not browns, and they weren't huge, but they were all very nice fish.  I ended up with 10 in about an hour that were in the 16-18 inch range.
After two hours of fishing, the rest of the crew was ready to head downriver.  We went back to $3 Bridge.  I caught four, with one decent bow, but it was hard fishing. The highlight was watching 81 year old Jimmy catch a beautiful rainbow.
We also fished on 9/28 and 9/29, but the fishing was pretty bad. We tried the Lamar Valley, including Soda Butte, Lamar, and Slough on 9/29.  We caught 3 fish the entire day between the five of us fishing.  The next day was not much better.  We fished the Gibbon and Duck Creek.  We caught less than 10 fish the entire day between the five of us. That being said, 9/30 happened to be Jimmy's 82nd birthday.  While the rest of us fished up and down Duck Creek without so much as a nibble, Jimmy caught and landed a wonderful 18 inch rainbow.  Somehow, that made up for the otherwise lackluster fishing.  I hope I'm still alive and well enough to fish Yellowstone when I'm 82!
Till next time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

9/26/2017: Yellowstone River, Slough, and a big hook in the finger!

My dad and I decided to spend the day after our Guide trip mostly site-seeing.  I wanted to fish for an hour or two at most. There was still plenty of snow on the ground.  First we went to the canyon and Yellowstone Falls.  Just amazing, and not very crowded. 

We then made our way up to Tower, and hiked down to fish. I got to a spot I really like and rigged up a huge hopper that Kory gave me, and dropped a few small nymphs off the back. Within 15 minutes of fishing, I had caught three decent Yellowstone Cutthroat.  None were big, but they were beautiful fish.  I was thinking I would be able to get a dozen or so in an hour.  I went to take the huge hopper out of the 3rd cuttie's mouth, and somehow it lodged into my finger.  I had forgotten to debarb the hook, and it was a big one. I tried for about five minutes to pull it out, but it just wouldn't budge.   I crossed the river and met up with my dad. We decided we needed to push it through.  After a good amount of profanity, and some help from my dad, we were able to get it through, mash the barb, and then back it out. Surprisingly, very little blood was shed. I figured the fishing was over.

We went to Slough Creek to explore.  We saw fish rising so we fished for about 30 minutes. I had a few hits, but couldn't land anything. We then went over to Mammoth.  Throughout the day, we saw a plethora of wildlife, including hundreds of buffalo, Elk in the rut, a fox, a coyote, antelope, a grizzly bear, and a big racked mule deer.  We had a great time, and arrived back to West Yellowstone quite late.  This was the last day of the trip for my dad - we had a great time! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

9/25/17: Henry's Fork and South Fork of Snake River

September 25, 2017:  We met up with Kory from Blue Ridge, Georgia, in Ashton, Idaho around 10:00 a.m..  Kory said The Henry's Fork was not looking good - it was a blue sky day, and nothing hatching.  I asked if we could give it a go, because I've always wanted to fish the Henry's Fork.  We ended up fishing for about 2 hours, and realized it was time to try something else.  I landed 7 fish, including one nice rainbow at about 16 inches (see above).
I met Kory years ago in Blue Ridge - he's a great guy and an outstanding Guide.  We packed up and he took us to the South Fork of the Snake.  We put in late, but he had a plan. We immediately started getting fish. My dad landed around a dozen, and had some nice fish that broke him off.  I landed a good number of fish. Towards the end of the float, as it was getting dark, Kory asked me to chuck my articulated streamer.  I started pounding the bank, and after about 20 minutes, it hit!  My rod and line went tight - I strip set, and then the fish launched out of the water. It launched two more times, and I figured it was a rainbow.  Turned out to be a 20 inch brown - a beautiful fish! It was dark, and the boat was rocking, so we didn't get any good pictures, but it was absolutely awesome catching that big brown throwing the meat.

I have to say, Kory Chastain is the best guide I have ever had the pleasure of fishing with.  He worked extremely hard to put us on fish, and he is about as patient and friendly as they come.  I really enjoyed the trip, and my dad did as well.  If you ever get the chance to fish with him in Idaho or in Blue Ridge, Georgia, I highly recommend him.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Yellowstone 9/24/17: Firehole and the Gibbon


September 24, 2017: We went back to the Firehole Sunday morning.  I worked my way down to my favorite spot near Muleshoe, and did really well.  After lunch, I wanted to check out Gibbon Falls, so we hiked up the stream to the falls.  It was beautiful.  I broke off a large brown below the falls, and landed another batch of fish euro nyphing the fast pocket water.  After we fished the Falls and below for a few hours, I had my dad drop me off above Gibbon Meadows while he went and took some photographs.  I told him to pick me up in two hours while I worked my way through the meadows to the junction.  I rigged up my 6 weight with sinking line and an articulated streamer.  Within 20 minutes I stuck a nice 20 inch bow.  I then landed a 16 incher, and an 18 incher.  I was ecstatic - three nice bows in the park on articulated streamers - it doesn't get much better.  I had landed 43 fish on the day. One of the best days I've had fishing.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Yellowstone - 9/23/17

September 23, 2017: After breakfast with the group, my dad and I headed up to the Firehole.  We started just below Fountain Flats. I caught 5-10 small bows and browns high sticking through the fast water.  We then headed up to Ferry Falls and I showed my dad a really good spot. The fish were rising like crazy, and a hatch of caddis hit the water.  My dad was able to get a nice brown to hand
on a caddis, plus a nice rainbow.  I caught a good bunch of fish. We then drove down to $3 bridge. We stopped at Slide Inn on the way, and were warned of tough fishing conditions.  It proved true. The wind was bad, no bugs, and we left after about an hour.  We headed to the Grizzly for a beer, and went back to West Yellowstone for dinner.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yellowstone 2017 - 9/22

The following posts are journal entries for me to use in the future.   Brad, LL, John, Jimmy, and my Dad all arrived on September 22, 2017.  The following posts offer a brief recount of the trip.

September 22, 2017:  My dad and I drove to West Yellowstone and arrived around 3 p.m..  We unpacked and went to the fly shop.  None of the other guys wanted to fish. My dad and I decided to hit the Madison for an hour before dark at Mile marker 2 on the park boundary, just upriver from Baker's Hole.  The fishing was slow.  Lots of other anglers, and nobody catching fish.  Still, was nice to wet a line.  Best part was seeing 3 Moose up close and personal while hiking out.  Pretty awesome!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pheasant Tail - quick tie with variations - Point Fly

I got to my cabin this weekend in Blue Ridge, and realized I forgot all of my fishing gear, with the exception of a reel and a rod I keep at the cabin.  I did, however, have my fly tying material, so I decided to tie up a couple of flies for a quick outing on Noontootla.  I knew the water would be stained and the flow a little heavy with the rain.  In those type of conditions, I've found you don't need to go too small, but you need to get your flies down.  The following is what I used and tied, and yes, I caught fish:

 I used pheasant tail natural for the tail, and body, some old peacock herls for the thorax, and on two of the flies, a brown partridge for the hackle.

Monday, June 26, 2017

An Hour in the Woods - Noontootla

It has been a while since I had one of those moments . . . . The beautiful quotes from the likes of Thoreau and Muir on the wonders of nature seem to resonate during these brief moments in time.  A feeling of peace and tranquility pass through your mind, body, and spirit during these moments - at least that is what it feels like to me. I don't go looking for these moments in life.  They come on unexpectedly, but when they "hit", it's a magical sensation.
I had one yesterday; a Sunday - at a time when I would normally be attending church services.   I tied a fly the night before, rigged up the 4 wt. bamboo I made about a year ago, and jumped in the truck to fish Noontootla for an hour.   The water was a little cloudy, which was perfect.  I didn't care if I caught a fish, I just wanted to get in the woods for an hour.
Noontootla is a free stone creek that hasn't been stocked in decades.  The fish are wild, and often quite challenging. It's easy to get skunked on Noontootla.
It is rare in the South to catch a truly wild trout in a freestone stream that is 12 inches or more that hasn't been fed. That's simply the reality of fishing in the South, and it's probably why people love to fish DH streams, tailwaters, and private "trophy managed streams" in this area.  Unlike fishing a small southern wild trout stream, DH streams, tailwaters, and trophy managed streams allow anglers to catch large fish, and sometimes, it's quite easy in those setting to catch fish that would rival the fish in Western streams and rivers.   In contrast, If you fish wild streams, for example, in the Smokies, a "trophy" is a 12-14 inch fish.
Noontootla has always appealed to me.  It's absolutely beautiful.  The stream is small, though it is large enough in some areas to cast a little line if you want to.  The fish are generally small, like most wild freestone trout streams in the South; however, Noontootla is unique insofar as there is a legitimate chance to catch a large trout.  And, if you like brookies, the feeder streams offer that opportunity as well.  Noontootla is regulated, so you'll mostly see people fly fishing, and it is rarely crowded on the creek.
I have never caught a large fish in Noontootla.  I would venture to say 9 inches is the largest trout I've caught in that watershed.  I met a guy fishing the creek a few years ago who had that look on his face, and we spoke.  He had just caught a 19 inch rainbow.  He said he had been fishing the creek for 20 years, and it was his first large trout caught and landed on Noontootla.
Yesterday was a good day. An hour of fishing, and 6 fish to hand.  Most were small, and none were big by typical standards.  I caught a beautiful 12 inch rainbow, and that was a "trophy" in my book.  A wild 12 inch bow on 6x tippet with a 4 wt bamboo - it's doesn't get much better. I took a quick picture, revived the fish, and stood watching the river for about 5 minutes.  I got that feeling, and there is nothing like it!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

New Hampshire

I had a family vacation that took us on a long road from Tennessee to New Hampshire, with a number of stops along the way.  I brought my fly fishing gear just in case I got a minute or two to wet a line. Apparently, the fishing wasn't too fruitful in the area where we were staying, which was just a short distance south of the White Mountains.  We were right next to the "Pemi", but everyone I spoke with said it was "dead".  I decided to check out the Mad River, and as I was driving along the river, I saw fish rising in a large pool just above a dam.  The next morning I woke up and hit the Mad River for a few hours.  I caught about a half dozen brook trout in the pool of rising fish, and missed a great many more.  These were obviously stocked brook trout. I worked my way down river for about an hour and didn't see another fish.
A few days later I decided to try the Baker River.  I couldn't find much information on where to fish, so I just started following roads the ran along side the Baker.  I went over a bridge and spotted a good size fish.  I rigged up and put on a big bugger.  About 10 casts later, and a pretty good fight, I ended up with this strange looking fish:

I thought it was a carp, but apparently it was a huge minnow called a Fallfish.  I worked my way up river to a beautiful area with nice runs, deep pools, and lots of bends. I pounded the water hard for about an hour, and except for one chase by a small brook trout, I struck out.
Admittedly, I was disappointed by the fishing in New Hampshire. Of course, it could have been the time of year, my ignorance on fishing locations, etc.
Strangely enough, the highlight of the trip (in terms of fishing) was fly fishing for about 10 minutes on Walden Pond. We didn't catch anything, but my boys and I had a good time sharing the water with Thoreau.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Great Day on the Caney Fork with David Knapp

 I owed Rob a float trip, so I booked one with David Knapp for April 14, 2017. I have been on about 5 guided trips in the past, and frankly, was always a little disappointed.  This trip would be different.  We started out with one generator, and David tied on a shad streamer pattern - within a few casts, I thought I had hooked bottom. Much to my surprise, the first fish of the day was this nice 17 inch bow.
We worked our way up to the discharge spot, and the fishing was good. Within about an hour of the float I had caught a good number of fish, including browns, bows, a brookie, and a skipjack.  We then worked our way down stream. Although we didn't hook into any pigs, the average fish was probably in the 14-15 inch range.  Rob had a slow day to begin with, but after lunch, he got into some nice fish, including the beautiful brown pictured at the top of the page.
I will definitely float with David again. He is not only a skilled angler and a good teacher, but more than anything, he has a genuine passion and enthusiasm for fly fishing.  He was always just as excited as we were when we caught a nice fish or had a good follow.  Thanks David!

Monday, February 27, 2017

SoHo and Watauga

Day 1: I left Chattanooga early Friday morning and made my way to Elizabethton, TN.  I met up with John and Brad at a city park, and we rigged up to fish the Watauga River. I had fished the Watauga once before a number of years ago and got skunked.  I rigged up the 4 weight 10 foot rod, and put on a couple of small nymphs.  I picked out a nice run and landed 4 nice bows within about 30 minutes. I then moved down stream quite a ways.  Nothing going down there.  After a couple of hours, it was time to go.  John had a slow day, but landed a 17 inch bow.  Brad had done well - catching a large number of rainbows.  We then went to our cabin on the SoHo - we fished the slow water for a few minutes, but couldn't get any action.
Day 2: John and Brad fished the Soho for a few hours in the morning.  "Roaster JAD" formerly known as "Doc" had arrived Friday evening with a new boat. After some debate, and despite no flowing water, we decided to try to float it down the South Holston.  I tried small flies to begin with, and then switched to a huge circus peanut I had tied.  I immediately got a chase from a big brown. I continued fishing the big fly for a little while, and got a few more follows, but no hook-ups.  We had fun, but it was a tough float without any water.  John and Brad had caught a few; though it was slow-going for them as well.

Day 3:  It was cold Sunday morning - our floating options were basically non-existent, so we hit the Watauga in Elizabethton for a few hours of fishing.  I had tied up two flies Sunday morning - a small purple midge, and a small frenchie.  The frenchie caught 3 bows rather quickly, but then the action slowed down.  JAD broke his rod right when he started - it wasn't looking good. We switched locations and again it was tough fishing.  I managed to catch a nice bow right before we left.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Toccoa DH

A little slow, but managed to catch a few on some new flies.  The fish were stacked up at the stocking points, which I avoided simply as a matter of principle!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

You Know the Deal - The Bugger Barn

I got The Bugger Barn for Christmas - this fly fox is huge.  I spent a few days at the vise, and still don't even have the thing half full!