Monday, August 29, 2016

Fly Fishing Without Eyes


        Hello and thank you for checking in at the O'Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. Due to the fact that half the team is on the bench (Connell is recovering from knee replacement surgery), we are handing the reins of this blog over to two incredible young men, Max and Ajay. If you are a long time reader you may remember these guys, if not click Here. They are great ambassadors for our sport. Below you will find an article they have written about teaching a very unique friend how to fly fish. Enjoy!

**The photo is of Max and Ajay's friend.  


Fly Fishing Without Eyes
By Max and Ajay

             
               Normally when you hear the words, “fly fishing”, one imagines a fisherman with a long rod, gracefully controlling a long line with a tiny fly attached on the end. The fisherman maneuvers the line with precision, placing the fly exactly where they want it, and in a blink of an eye they have a fish on. What if you couldn't see that fly? What if you could barely see the rod that was in your hand? Certainly fly fishing takes keen eye sight, but what if you didn't have that at your disposal?
           Robert was born albino, meaning he had no pigmentation in his skin, hair, or eyes making him legally blind. He has already accomplished many things that other blind people wouldn't even try, like riding a bike, and traveling around the world competing internationally for judo. Robert's life is like any other teen, he goes to school, practices his sport, and now even knows how to fly fish. I have always been pushing him to go past his limits, and not let his disability effect what he really wanted to do, so he decided to learn how to fly fish. At first, I was not quite sure how I would go about teaching him. I had taught many of my other friends how to fly fish, but never anyone with severe sight problems; but I thought to myself that if a blind man can learn how to ride a bike, then surely he can learn how to fly fish and be able to catch something on his own. So I set out one summer morning with him, determined to get a positive result, and what happened pleasantly surprised me.
              Everyone always says, “fly fishing is all about the feeling”, but is it really? Well actually it is. You don't need to see the fly, or the line, or the end of your rod in fact to fly fish. All you need to know is how it feels. I started teaching Robert the basics of casting. I would cast with him in order for him to get the feeling of what a good cast was like and sure enough, after 15 or 20 minutes of casting, he had it. Once he knew what it felt like to have a good cast, then he could work on catching those fish. I set him up with a streamer so he could really feel the fish, feel every movement, feel every nibble the fish takes.
          After an extended length of time spent on learning how to cast and strip in the line and then re-casting, we moved around to the other side of the lake where there is a deep hole that year round is filled with fish. So I set him up in front of the hole and told him to cast out. Of course for the first few casts he struggled, but after a few casts he was back into the rhythm.
          After the first good cast into the hole, he turned and looked in my direction, saying how he felt that that cast was good, and sure enough he was right. He had gotten the feeling down, and was ready to catch that fish. He slowly stripped in the line, and suddenly, was caught off guard. The rod was bending violently and his line was taut and twitching. He had a fish on, and didn't know what to expect. He did well, kept the rod up, kept the line taut, yet after a few seconds the fish slipped away, and Robert reeled in his line. He was disappointed but now more determined than ever to land one.
           He turned to me and told me how it had felt just like a judo match, how his adrenaline was pumping, and how he had no idea how exhilarating fly fishing was. He cast it out again, but this time it wasn't the best cast, and he knew it, so he picked the line up and cast again. His second cast was much better, and as he was stripping the line back in, something hit it hard. Another fish was on and this time he was ready, and he was reeling in the line, aggressively one might say. One thing is for sure, he was going to land this one. I yelled to him that it was a decent sized bluegill as it broke the surface, of course he couldn't see it though. I grabbed my net and netted the bluegill. Robert was stunned, he had actually caught something. I brought the fish over to him and let him hold it. He had never held a fish before, so he was incredibly excited, and I let him release it back into the lake.

        On our way home, he explained how he understood what it meant to be a good fly fisherman. He explained how every fisherman should be able to feel the fish, and that having good eyesight was an advantage. Of course he was right, you need to have a good feeling of not only what it is like to fly fish, but for everything in life. Robert may not be able to see well, but he sure can continue fly fishing for the rest of his life.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Almost Here !!!

               Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures blog. I was flipping through the channels a few weeks back and I ran across the movie The Jerk. Now I am not sure any of our younger readers area aware of this movie but I’m sure our older readers are chuckling a bit just hearing the name. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the new phone books arrive and Navin runs up screaming “the new phone books are here, the new phone books are here”. He says “ there is my name, right there on page 73, I’m finally someone” “things are only going to get better from here”. As we know, things went up and then way down for poor old Navin, but watching I felt a little discouraged that I never really get that excited about new things in my life. If the shops tracking info is correct, that should all change tomorrow at around lunch time.
                I wrote a few weeks back about the new Sage X rod that Cat and I got to play with. The demand for this rod has been really high and so the Drift will be getting a limited supply of the X in tomorrow. Since playing with it back in June, I have caught myself daydreaming a little about seeing it again. I hope the FedEx driver doesn’t think there is something seriously wrong with me when I’m waiting at the door, salivating a little and when he shows up I’ll be screaming the New X’s are here, the new X’s are here, Now I can truly be someone! Now Sage has played a bit of a dirty trick on Cat and I, due to the limited quantities, we need to wait till September before we can truly be someone. Anyway, the rod felt truly incredible when we got to play with it at Deckers. Cat sneezed once and the rod casted 30 feet, roll casting was a breeze, the rod was super light and felt that way in hand, but still had plenty of power to throw a fly through a wall . I get asked all the time if a rod like this can make a person a better fisherman. I like to answer that question with my all time favorite analogy. Rods are like cars, you can certainly buy an old Chevy Monza and it would probably get you exactly where you want to go. I know that not everyone can afford a Lexus, but once you drive one, the price makes sense. If you get a chance tomorrow get by the shop and check out the new Mazaratti of the fly rod world, the Sage X.

                The river has continued to produce some really nice days over the last week. The Whiskey Nymph, and even Pats rubber legs have been tempting fish. As always Connell, Cat, Winston, Steve Martin, and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading….

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Naming Rights....


            Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures Blog. Today’s blog will be a little different than most because at the end I will be asking for reader participation. Now don’t panic, I’ll give the rules later. With the Broncos preseason only a few short weeks away I started thinking a little about the stadium naming rights fiasco that is on its way. When I first moved to Colorado it was just “Mile High”, I remember the thunder the fans would make from below the seats “Mile High Thunder”.  The new stadium lost a little bit of the traditional luster but after last year’s Super Bowl win, the “Sports Authority Field” name really began to sink in. It will be really interesting to see how the naming pans out after Sports Authority went belly up. I hope my Broncos don’t follow suit.
            After about my sixth hookup of the morning I found myself completely basking in the Glory that our river has become, and of course that is where the naming comes in. When it comes to great fisheries, there are some fantastic names out there. The Dream Stream, Miracle Mile, Hog Trough, the Reef, Toilet Bowl; all these names signify the quality of the fish but when our water is mentioned, it is the Arkansas River Pueblo Tail water(boring). I would love to be as cool as “the Juan” but when you say “the Ark”, people say “do you mean up by Salida”. We have had a lot of fun over the years naming different runs,  and , of course Cat’s Run is my all time fave but Mysis, Apples, Peek-a-boo, DJ’s and even the Money Hole have been fun to see sink in. On about my ninth hookup of the morning I began to think about nick-names for our tail water, our river deserves an awesome nick-name. As I was taking a pic of my fattest fish of the day, my entry for the naming rights came to me. The Phat Farm, yep that is my official entry and for two reasons; first, this may be the only river in the world where there is as much Phat Farm clothing as Simms walking the banks, and second, these fish are seriously fat and healthy.
            Now here is where I am looking for participation and this means everyone, if you are creative please on either my or the Drifts Facebook page or my Blog please give up your best name entries. Now if you are too shy or not super creative than just use your mouse and hit the Like button for the names you like. Please don’t let this naming opportunity pass you by.  How awesome would it be to take you grand children here in thirty years and tell them that you helped in naming this river.

            As I stated in the text, the river fished really well today. 8:00 til 9:00 was steady but at around 9:00 the frenzy was on. Fish were drilling the Whiskey Nymph until my second break off and I switched to my A&W pattern. Landed a couple of smaller fish on a Twenty Incher but I am still trying to find a third fly that the fish find scrumptious. Dinner time ended a little early this morning and I didn’t touch a fish after 10:15. Wet wading is delightful and much safer than wearing waders right now. Have fun and don’t forget to participate. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Mile High, and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…


Friday, July 22, 2016

Heavy Water....

Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. It sure has been an interesting summer this year. With the last two summers being so incredibly mild and this year feeling more like the “real” Pueblo, I keep hearing the new Coloradoans talking about how hot it is here in P-town. I guess for my first 22 summers in Southern Colorado I remember nearly every day between the middle of June and the middle of August being over a hundred degrees. I would talk to my dad back in Omaha about walking 18 holes in the afternoons and he couldn’t believe I would play in that kind of heat. I always explained that it was a “dry” heat and he would give a little chuckle and then laugh at my stupidity. I have made the mistake of going back to Omaha in the middle of the summer a few times over the years and I want to tell you, there is a difference. Big time!
This evenings blog post is kind of on the same line; discussing something which appears to be the same, but is actually very different. As most of you know our tailwater is still running a bit high. Though that is only part of the story…. In fact, a very small part of the story. 900cfs can offer some amazing fish when the clarity is good, the water temps are right, and the fish are eager. 900cfs can also be impossible to fish when muddy. Same flow, two very different fishing experiences. So at which end of the spectrum does the tailwater currently sit? Right now the river sits in a realm all its own. Our water is having clarity issues, but it is not muddy. Instead, it is what I call “heavy” water. When water is green and the water has a certain texture of large particulate matter, I deem it “heavy.” This type of water can fish well, but it is a challenge. Unlike Muddy water, smaller flies which match the aquatic life are a must, but the increased flow makes landing fish difficult.
Today I had the pleasure of guiding a very productive trip, even with the heavy water. This was Chris’s first time fly fishing in Colorado. We got to the river around 7:30am and the flows were right around 800cfs. We worked a little on the basics, and then pretty quickly afterward we got our first take. The fight was quick and won by the fish. Chris was thrilled just with the fight and really fought the fish well, I felt the need to pull out the “heavy” water for his excuse. We moved down a little and lost the next few as well. The next fish took a couple of minutes and he managed a 17inch piggie to the net. We landed a smaller fish next, and then we moved up into some quicker water. I told him that the run could be good, but very difficult to land big guys out of, I know that from experience. A few casts in and wham-o, the fight was on. With the heavy quick water this fish started running down river and the chase was on. Chris must have had an awesome guide(hehe) because he managed another gorgeous 17 incher to the net. We began fishing our way back and then we had our surprise of the day. Chris hooked another and as it was getting closer to us we noticed the color of it was off. We got the fish netted and even though it was only around 11inches, it was a full- blooded cutthroat. I must have caught over a thousand fish on the tailwater, but I don’t ever remember catching a full cutty. Great effort was made to get the photo of it, but the fish won and only gave us a tail-shot. Oh well and to make things even more impressive, the water had come up an extra 100cfs and yes it was a heavy 900cfs.
Anyway, hot flies over the last few weeks have been Twenty Inchers, Zipp’s Whiskey Nymph, and the Beaded Soft Hackle. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Chris, and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…….






Sunday, July 10, 2016

Taking Advantage...

                Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. It’s times like these when I remember how much I truly adore fly fishing. As most of you know, I had back surgery just over three weeks ago and have been limited to very slow and deliberate movements. If you have ever seen me play basketball, than you may think that I have always followed that rule. Anyway, other than the short time spent casting the new Sage-X last week on the South Platte, my fishing fix has come from listening to fishing stories in the shop. Yesterday, while at the shop, we noticed that the river had dropped to around 550cfs and even though the clarity was far from perfect, I needed my fix.
                Cat, Winston and I got to the water at just after six and I jumped into one of my go-to runs. Cat took a few moments to get set up right across from me and I think she hooked a fish on her first cast. She hooked three in the first run and got one to the net. We began working our way down river and Cat hooked a few more. Finally after about an hour I landed my first fish, he was a GIANT 11 incher. I very carefully made my way to the other side and finally hooked a serious toad. The fish had my hands fumbling like a total newb and I got smoked. A few casts later and I hooked another beast. My hands worked much better and my fight was valiant, however once the fish got below me, I wasn’t willing to take the fight to him for risk of twisting my back. I finally landed my fish of the summer, he was right around 15inches and I could not have been happier. This is where things got interesting; I looked just up river and saw something coming straight at me and I realized it was a man-eating beaver. I could hear Winston growling from across the river. Quickly, all the statistics of the hundreds and thousands of people a year that get mauled by beaver rambled through my brain. And yes I know that I am a complete wimp, but when he got to about ten feet from me and then dove, I started doing what looked like the happy dance. I just wanted to make sure that he knew these were my legs and not tree trunks.
                Well I made it out with my back just a little tight and all my lower limbs attached and we called it a very successful evening.  While walking back to the car, Cat and I had a slight bittersweet moment. We absolutely love fishing our One’s but after fishing the Sage-X last week, the anticipation began to seep in a little. The feeling reminded me a little of my youth B-days, I always got what I needed but very quickly I would daydream about what I would get for Christmas.

                I checked this morning and the flows are still sitting at right around 550cfs. If you feeling the need get out to the river, early and late in the day are the best times. Fish were taking PMD emergers last night. Alex’s Whiskey nymph and the soft hackle will be great producers for the next few months. If you are the adventurist type, reports from the high lakes have been phenomenal. Get by the shop and we can get you in the right direction. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Angry Beaver, and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..



Monday, June 27, 2016

Been a While........

Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures blog. It feels like years since the last time I sat down at my keyboard and so even though this post may not have anything really interesting to say, I just had to get something written down. As some of you know, I have been having knee, shoulder and nerve problems the last few years. February I had the shoulder fixed and couldn’t be happier. Next up was the back. Surgery was set for the June 16th, normally I would have been out everyday fishing ahead of time but I had to take it easy trying to shake this everlasting cold. The surgery was complicated a little when a bone shard was found lodged against my spine, but immediately after coming to, I knew it was successful.
                I had been feeling better daily and on Sunday, Cat and I made our way up to Deckers to sit in with the Sage team on their “on the water tour”. We had known that Sage was soon going to be bringing out their newest rod and on Sunday we got the chance to play with it. Very gingerly I made my way into the river and got to try out my flip casting and due to the high brush behind us we also got to work on our roll casting. My back only allowed for a short period of time in the river, and unfortunately we didn’t get to fight any fish, but we did learn a few things about the new Sage X. First of all, physically it is light, and even more importantly, it feels light in the hand. Secondly the rod felt vey snappy, they claim the ultimate in recovery time, I can tell you there was very little wiggle. And thirdly, either we have somehow miraculously become incredible roll casters, or more likely, the rod casts itself. Roll out for the new Sage X will be early August and I can’t wait to get my hands on my own.
                As for fishing right now, as we know, P-town will be on the mend for at least a while longer still. After spending some time with Pat Dorsey on Sunday, he believes that the next few weeks the South Platte should be in absolute perfect condition. As soon as Spinney fills, the Platte in the Cheeseman area will jump from the current 400ish up to well over 700cfs. The water isn't sparkly clear but sure gives you the mountain feel. The upper Ark is just now coming into that perfect dry fly heaven conditions. Every fish in the river is within 12 inches of the bank and if you can keep yourself from falling into the river, you ought to be able to have a blast. And lastly, the high lakes are mostly open now. I’m not a huge fan of hiking but those times when I have made my way to 10,000 feet, it can be a little difficult to focus on fishing with God’s country filling your every sense. If a person could bottle the alpine sense, they could be billionaires.

                My follow up appointment with my neurologist will be on Thursday and I will have a little better time frame on my recovery. As for now, I have no idea what I will be doing on the Fourth. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t celebrate freedom by educating fish on the Taylor. Hope to be telling more fishing stories soon and until then I want to wish you all a wonderful summer. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, DR’s. Davis & Nelson and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading….

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The One Armed Bandit....

          Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. As most of our readers know, I do not take my freedom for granted and in the spirit of this holiday, I would like to thank the soldiers and their families for protecting my freedom. Now with that said, on to the fishing. With Memorial day approaching, it meant only one thing in the O’Grady’s world; time for the Buttes. After watching our last few lake videos and feeling like we were ready for a break, we decided that this year we were just going to fish and not worry about making a video. Our normal schedule was a little messed up because Jimbo wasn’t able to make it out until the day we were finished, so for the most part it was some alone time with my incredible wife.
          I want to stray a little from the trip here, but hopefully it will make sense later on. I don’t get a chance to often talk about my Mother (who lives in Denver) and my older brother and sister who live in Omaha, but this blog has given me the perfect opportunity.  You see, this part of my family has an obsession as well. Before I continue, I will make it clear that they all pay their bills and none of their kids have ever missed a meal, but when my sibs and mom get together, they love to head up to Cripple Creek. I have tried a few times to go with them, but I just can’t ever seem to catch up. Nickel machine after nickel machine are always the same for me; a double bar, a second double bar and just as I start to get excited, a nasty old diamond comes up and says please play again. We tease each other a little, my mom asks how can I go out in that kind of weather just to catch fish and then she tells me how much money I could save if I just ate what I caught. I ask her why they would make the long drive up to Cripple creek just to feed the machines. Anyway, back to the story and maybe a casino theme.
          The trip really started when we walked into the fly shop in Walden, North Park Anglers, the employee walked up and very politely asked if we needed any help. As we began to ask about patterns, he smiled and said, “Hey I know you guys.” Our chests pumped just a little and I began to feel a little like Joe Pesci walking through the casino in the namesake movie, and then he went on to tell us that he had fished the Ark last winter and had met us in the shop. A little deflated ego and on to the Buttes. We pulled in and got our favorite camping spot. We quickly set camp and started working on our pontoons when a boat came by very slowly. One of the guys said, “Hey it’s the O’Gradys,” we looked up and thinking maybe we knew them, replied with a hello. He then said “we’ve seen you on youtube.” Well the ego stroke that was missing from the shop arrived and put a little pep in our flippers.
We fished for three hours Wednesday evening, battling the wind and the cold and we had a total of two fish to show for it. Afterward, we ran over to see the Master of the Delaney’s Mark and got a few tips. Thursday was by far the best day fishing, from 9:00am until around 1:45pm fish were eating and we were on them. At 1:48pm a storm rolled in and we had a hard time even rowing the hundred yards back to camp. Friday morning started good, with the fishing being really hot from 8:30am until about 10:00am and then the wind reared its ugly head. I don’t know if it has to do with the size of the lakes, but at Spinney the wind can roll in and you can still catch fish, at the Delaney’s however, when the wind rolls in the fishing stops. Friday evening when the wind calmed just a bit and was out of the North, Cat and I trekked up into the north end of the lake. We hooked several fish, but after about twenty minutes the wind picked up and turned square into our faces. Saturday morning fishing was strange, Cat did really well and even began to tease me a little. My first fish of the day was named 220 because it took me two hours and twenty minutes before I finally caught a fish. It got a little better for me with a few fish landed, a few misses and a break off, and just before noon the wind and a nasty storm moved in.
          So back to the casino theme. After packing the X-terra and saying our goodbyes, Cat and I started talking about the trip on the way home.  We began expressing our frustrations with having to spend so much time not fishing and all of our efforts to get out of the elements. We began to ask ourselves, why do we continue to put ourselves through these trips? Cat then looked at me and said, “I think I’m addicted to watching the plumb-bobber explode downwards.” and it hit me, she is exactly right. Lake fishing is very different than what I normally do, but it is so similar to slot machines. You put your cash into the machine, just like the money we spend on our gear. We look for a depth and we cast our rod, or pull the slot arm. First drop is a triple bar, or a perfect cast. The second drop is another triple bar, your flies hit the bottom and you plumb-bobber straitens up. Ding, ding, ding and your indicator explodes downward and as you set the hook, you quickly wonder, is this the thirty incher that you came here for? The third window rolls down and it’s the third triple bar and the machine goes crazy, you have no idea how much you just won, but you quickly imagine it is in the thousands. I ask my family at times why they continue to pay for those big beautiful casinos to stay open and I guess after putting up with how frustrating the Delaney elements can be, I get it. Okay family, I promise I will never make fun of your obsession again.  
          Now on to a little disclaimer, if you have a problem with gambling than call the Gamblers Anonymous hotline. If you want to experience a little part of the lake addiction than call the Drift, we can help you. I wanted to finish off the blog by giving a shout out to another friendly fly shop in Colorado. If you are in the North Park area stop by North Park Anglers, we have been in on several occasions and have always had professional, helpful and friendly service. Next a quick thank you to Mark, I can’t believe how much I have learned from you over the years and lastly, sorry Jimbo for not getting to stay up there to fish with you a little longer.
          With the current snow pack level sitting at 178% of normal, I expect the river to be at full runoff for a considerable period of time this year. DON’T GET LEFT OUT!!! The mid and upper level lakes should have excellent fishing opportunities this summer. Knowing how daunting fly fishing lakes can be, through the end of June the Drift is continuing to offer the One Armed Bandit Special, a free sit down with Cat or I with the purchase of any Sage Accel, or Fishcat/outcast pontoon boat. The sit down will consist of rigging, safety, accessories, flies and still water strategies. As always Connell, Cat, Winston, The Master Mark, and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading……