Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stage Four Plus...

               Hello friends and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. As I was driving to the river this morning I couldn’t help feeling giddy for the day to come, and how after eighteen years of fly fishing, I am still completely elated with the sport. When Cat first started working at the fly shop, our river was for the most part a “put and take” river, and so most of our fishing was on the upper Ark and smaller creeks. We made yearly trips to the Taylor’s Hog Trough but the fish were usually better than us, but we kept trying. One year, all of our reading and listening finally took hold and we began to catch large fish on the Taylor. We were so excited and every big fish landed grew our obsession for bigger and more. I remember talking to some fly fishing old-timers and they explained to me that there were four stages of fly fishing. I was intrigued so I listened; the first stage was simply just catching a fish on a fly. The second stage was to catch huge numbers of fish and the third stage was the big fish stage. The final stage was not caring about anything but just enjoying being on the water with a fly rod, a type of fly fishing Nirvana.
               Cat and I have talked about these stages over the years and this blog will be all about a made-up stage that we will call Four Plus, which is the sight fishing phase. Our sight fishing stage began several years ago when we just happened to meet up with a friend on the Dream Stream. I felt I was pretty good at catching big fish in holes and that day I started by landing few really nice cuttys and then I got to watch Anthony(Ants) just take over. As the sun got higher he continued to put the river to shame. Finally, I went up next to Ants and asked what the heck he was doing. He began pointing out the fish and I was lost, I could not see what he was seeing. He had me move down and as I was waiting he said there were several coming right at me. Once again, I saw nothing. He told me to cast and shortly after my rig began to drift, my indictor shot up river. The battle was fun and I landed a twenty-two-inch bow. I was excited but the feeling that I couldn’t shake was that my fly fishing arsenal was seriously lacking. When we got home the next day I bought a new pair of sunglasses and I began going to the river almost every afternoon for an hour or so looking for fish. At first the only fish I could see were from above but as the days became weeks and then months, I began to see fish everywhere. A whole new world, or four plus stage was born in me and I began to find the other stages a little boring. We still have fun hitting the lakes and we even still hit a few of the smaller creeks but nothing compares to stalking a fish and beating them head to head…
               With the river coming up last week the phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to know how it has affected the fishing. This has been a really difficult question to answer because to me the fishing is incredible and the most amazing it will be all year. However, after hearing quite a few frustrated anglers on the river and in the shop, it may be a little more difficult for many anglers. With the extra water the fish have more room to move, people fishing their normal spots are still somewhat successful and happy, but nothing like the faces we see of anglers that have learned how to sight fish. I got to spend today on the river with a friend that is usually pretty successful but today we were trying to open a new stage for him. We got to the river just after 10:00 and seeing the bump in the river and the high clouds, I knew that would put a damper on the sight fishing. We hooked a few right off the bat and then we started scouring the river for feeders. Fish were a little scarce and then I found what we were looking for, I found a pair of fish tucked away and eating in a corner. Mike came over and after setting up a plan he took the shot. I was watching one of the fish when Mike lifted and said he had one, I was looking at the wrong fish and then he shot across and under a tree. Some people would be upset with the five second breakoff but to me it was the fish of the day. We moved around and Mike landed a few more. The sun broke out for a little while and I was able to sight out and land a few and then we fished our way out. It wasn’t the killer day we were looking for but just watching the one fish eat was pretty cool.

               So, to finish off this blog I want to plug my abilities as a fly fishing guide. Over the weekend, Cat and I have spent a lot of time talking and selling flies to people wanting to catch fish on our river. We have sold FOD’s, Ninjas, True Bloods, Tube Wings and basically everything I have caught fish on over the last few weeks and we have had a little bit of everything coming back in the shop. We have seen people catch their first big fish ever, we have seen people that have had their best day ever and unfortunately, we have had people in saying that the flies we sold them didn’t work. I have warned people that fishing at times right now can be technical and the fish don’t get that big by being stupid but I feel they think we are holding out on them. My push now is if you are not a proficient sight fisher, look for a sunny day, higher me for a day and come learn the most incredible way of catching fish. I spent months learning to see fish and years learning how to use those abilities together. Guided trips right now will be working on finding the fish and then how to feed them properly. We can only help so much in the shop, but it kills us when people think we are holding out on them. With the amount of snow in the high country and the lack of moisture down here, we have no idea how long these conditions will remain awesome. Call the shop or call me and get your trip booked now. Just be aware, you may be stuck in the four plus stage for eternity.  Shop 719-543-3900  Cell 719-568-4927.Pics are from today. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Ants and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading……..

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Arghh Matey....

   Hello friends and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. I think the best way to share todays fishing shenanigans would be to take a step back in time to our early years of fishing. Prior to our river becoming so awesome, Cat and I used to spend a lot of time fishing the mid to high mountain lakes with various success. I remember one such time when Cat and I had been fishing San Isabel and it was a very difficult day. I had landed a few and Cat after a few hours landed her first fish of the day and after removing the hook and taking a second look, Cat says “unbelievable, I finally catch a fish and he only has one eye.” Now being the all-loving and comforting husband that I am, I asked her which side of the mouth the hook was in, was he hooked on the side with or without the eye. hehe

            Cat was stuck in the shop today and I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do and then I got a call from half of our Taylor crew. Charlie and Brandon were on their way to the river, so Winston and I headed out to meet up. I jumped into a run right away and hooked and lost a fish on the second drift. Next cast went bingo and the indicator shot up river. After seeing the bright red stripe of the fish, I gave him an extra few extra runs and he sure was worth it. He was just a hair under 20 and if he were an e-bay listing, his color and shoulders would be listed as *mint*. I then slowly worked my way up to the boys catching a few smaller fish on the way. I got above Charlie and hooked but lost a stud and then landed a 15 incher. I looked down and saw Charlie was fighting a fish and after netting it I could see him and Brandon talking. Their expression was a little odd and I couldn’t figure out what was up and then I went on fishing. Brandon came up by me and jumped into the run I was working and he landed a beauty right out in front of me. We snapped a few pics and I asked him how big Charlies fish was and he started to laugh, he then went on to say it only had one eye. I couldn’t help myself so while walking past Charlie and in my best pirate voice I said “Arghh matey, have you seen my eye patch? I was looking for my rum and your hook hit me in the mouth.”

Well we started working our way down river and I jumped into a deeper run that I had busted on earlier. I could see a couple of bows working but my flies went right past them. I was getting ready to recast and my indicator shot down. The fight was really strange where it felt like dead heavy weight and I didn’t even have a guess as to what it was. When I eventually netted him, I was really surprised, he was 21inch walleye. I headed down to the run I started in and hooked another absolutely gorgeous 20 incher, and after checking the pics, it was the same fish from the morning. Well on the way out, One-eyed-Charlie got the last laugh; we hit one last run and we could see several fish working. He took several casts and then hooked and landed a beautiful 18 incher. I hooked another cherry bomb right after that but his second run into the rocks snapped my line. I expected a little jab from Charlie, but in his calm confident way he just said better luck next time. What a day!

            As far as we know right now, there will be a water call tomorrow morning and the river will increase by 180-190 cfs. The 15th is Wednesday and were not exactly sure what is going to happen, but I certainly don’t see the river blowing up. The spawn should last for another week or so, so if you are out please be careful and allow the fish to make more. There are lots of fishing eating and the BWO’s are a few short weeks away. Fish today were on eggs, FOD’s and the walleye took a j-bomb. I forgot my camera today so pics were all taken from my Iphone, sorry about the framing. Sight fishing right now is off the hook so now is the perfect time to book a trip, come and learn the awesomest way to attack this river. As always Connell, Cat, Winston, Brandon, Charmander and the Drift Fly shop want to thank you for reading….

                                         Four hours later.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Halleluiah, There Is Water In The River !!!

                Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. Now I know it has been a few weeks since my last post and I wanted to let you know why. In my many years of acquiring so much knowledge and ever changing truths, maybe the best way for me to pontificate is by using the “glass half full” mantra.  About the time we got back from Hawaii the fish on our river began to make their way out of their winter holding spots and were either eating or spawning. Now I have given my personal opinion on spawning fish in the past and ask people to think of fish as their friends, and if their friend’s wives were only in the mood once a year, wouldn’t they do everything they could to stay out of their way. Over the last few weeks on the river I have had a great time sighting out feeding fish but have seen so many conventional and even fly fishermen standing over redds that I have been too annoyed to write. So here is where the halleluiah comes into play, the river was brought up to 395 today and finally the spawners have a little protection. Now a little sadly, but still in the “half full” frame of mind, Cat and I road our bikes to look at the river and along with the dirty natural debris, the river was doing its own job of cleaning the banks.(sorry John Martin for the trash)
                Now about the time I was totally rejoicing for the water protection for the spawners, I was informed that the increase is supposed to be temporary and at some point in time the flows will drop back under 100cfs and then increase again on the 13th. Water temps out of the dam have been steady between 41 and 43 degrees and even with the warmer temps we seem to be on track for seeing the BWO’s serious hatches late in March.
                Now to think ahead a little, after seeing the snowpack in the Arkansas River drainage at around 130% of normal and the reservoirs already full, this could be another extended runoff year. Now if you love fishing as much as we do then there is no reason not to fish during the runoff time. If you have seen some of our Spinney or Delaney videos than you have seen how awesome fishing those mid level lakes can be and we think we have a pretty good idea on how to be successful. We at the Drift are aware of how intimidating trying to get into a new way of fishing can be. To try and help, with the purchase of any Fishpond or Outcast pontoon boat, or Sage Accel fly rod you will get a free sit down with either Cat or I and we will go over rigging, safety, bugs, and hopefully give you a great start to spending the runoff fishing and not home bored.

                I wanted to finish the blog with a few pics of fish from the last few trips out and a few of mine that were all caught in the mouth and nowhere near redds. Okay, enough pontificating, fishing over the next few weeks should be good and as we roll into April the fish ought to feed like crazy. Get your trip booked now and come and enjoy the best fishing of the year. Fish were feeding on eggs, FOD’s, Ninjas, and J-bombs. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Confucius, and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Omen....

            Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. I’m not sure how old I was the first time saw the movie The Omen but what I remember is that it scared the absolute tar out of me. Even to this day when I hear the theme music is makes me shutter. Winston and I got to the river around 10:00 this morning and on my first cast I landed a chunky little fifteen incher. Immediately I began thinking about what kind of omen it could be. I remember years ago, on my “glass is half full” days, I would think that this would mean that the day was going to be the best ever. On the “half empty” days I would think that it might be the only fish I would catch that day. As I was pondering the fate of my fishing day I began to laugh at how differently I look at fly fishing today. In my early days of fly fishing, my success was measured by the number of fish I caught, regardless of the manner in which they were deceived. Case in point, one of our favorite places we used to fish was San Isabel lake. We would take our float tubes, tie on foam caddis and go to town. A fifty plus fish day and we felt like we knew what we were doing and any number less than twenty and it was time to rethink our strategy. These days my measure of success is not so much about numbers, but being able to beat any particular fish that I pick out, nonetheless, I decided the name of my first cast fish shall be Damien.
            After landing and releasing Damien, I spent another ten minutes in that run and then began to move down river. I was thinking about a pig that I had spotted on Thursday and on my way, I started seeing other fish. The first few attempts were futile with the fish just sliding out of the way. I changed up my rig with a New Zealand strike indicator and less weight and still found fish just moving out of the way. I moved a little further down and saw a whole group of active trout on redds, a whole new meaning to the word troutporn. I spotted a few smaller fish under a tree and was able to catch a few of them. Next I hooked another beauty but he popped off quickly. I made it to the spot where the piggie was from the other day and saw nothing so I moved into a deeper run. After getting smoked three times, I managed to land a couple of big fat p-town bones and about a sixteen incher. While eyeing the river on the way back to the car I got a glimpse of something in the middle of the river. Nearing it I could see the purple hue and got a few casts off, he moved up a little but after he stopped I cast again and hooked him. He took a minute to land and he absolutely made my day. He was a stout, cherry red twenty incher. My day was a success and even though the Omen theme was in my head all day, every fish is a different adventure.
            Fishing today was not easy and the river is quickly transforming into our most technical season. I saw several fish on redds today and expect the spawn to really increase over the next week. I know I have pleaded before but please leave the future of our river alone there are plenty of feeding fish to play with. If you are not sure what to look out for please call the shop and we can key you in on what to look out for. Also when handling fish please be gentle and quickly snap a pic and release the fish. All but one fish today was landed on the J-bomb and big fish was landed on a simple black midge. If you have been planning on a guide trip this spring that now is the time to get it booked, fishing is not easy but a good cast and drift will equal success. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Damien, and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Coming Home.....

              Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. Today’s blog may be a little long because I wanted to touch on a few different subjects. To start, I wanted to give some final thoughts on our Hawaii trip, and will then finish with an up to date report on our river conditions. I wanted to start by thanking a few of the individuals that helped to make our Hawaii trip not only possible but a few of the most enjoyable weeks of our lives. Cody and Kim were amazing, they took us to see everything of interest on the island and Kim’s Mom and Ron allowed us to stay with them the last few days we were there. I also wanted to give a quick shout out to Kenny Karas and Mike Hennesey from Hawaii On The Fly. As we were on our way back home we were trying to figure out a way to describe how difficult Hawaiian bone fish are to catch. The word that came to mind and everyone agreed was diabolical.  I’m a little stubborn when it comes to fishing and the first night when everyone else was listening to Kenny, I made the poor decision to learn on my own.  The first week we spent battling poor light and the flu but still every evening, sitting around the table, I learned a little more from Kenny. We got a few good light days the second week and that is when things got really interesting. It’s one thing to not catch fish when you can’t see them but when they're right there and you got nothing, it’s not like I had a lot of hair to lose but I’m sure my head shines a little more now.
                To give you an idea about the technique used to try and wrangle one of these fellows, it went a little like this:  we would walk until we found a place where bones seemed to be moving through or tailing. Then, we would crouch down and try and make a cast leading the fish by 10 feet in the direction of where you think they were going to go. Now if you screw up and cast 9 feet then they blow up and take every fish in the area with them. Now more often than not, just as your fly hits the water at 10 feet in front of the fish they normally change direction…ahhhhhhhhhhhh. I do believe there was more colorful language on those flats then at an NWA concert. Well when you make that perfect cast, twitch the fly and watch the bone move over and gnaw on your fly, it makes it all worthwhile. In all my years fishing for trout, I have seen my backing once and when I hooked my first bone, before I could even yelp, fifty yards of backing had flown through my guides. My last fish landed had me around a hundred yards into my backing and as I reeled him back and just got my line back into my guides he made another fifty yard run. 
       Now I will have to admit that it is a little difficult to get super annoyed not catching fish in Hawaii. Monday we spent the day at Hawaii Kai and after about the first twenty minutes I lost focus and spent the next two hours watching the kite surfers, WOW talk about amazing athletes. Our most difficult flat was in K-bay, fish were huge and very difficult to see but the back drop was amazing. My first fish of the trip was caught in K-bay on accident. I was clearing my line and had just tossed out the fly and as I lifted I could see there was an 8 inch fish on it, I had no idea what it was so I just snapped a few pics and then used my forceps to get him back in the water. Cody told me it was a lizard fish and asked if I saw the teeth, sure was glad I used my forceps and then looked at the pic and saw the teeth. We saw tons of puffer fish, and one day I heard something behind me and I cast and caught a Goat fish, a pretty little thing with the orange stripes. Our first night in K-bay we began seeing these worm like creatures that I think may have been the inspiration for the movie Tremors. The trip was amazing but I do have to say that we were ready to get home, the last day on Triangle we kept watching the jets take off and we found ourselves longing to be on one.
                So my final thought on Hawaii, if you are going on vacation definitely bring your rod and book a trip.  Kenny and Mike are awesome and might just save half of your hair. If you are just looking for a place to catch a bunch of saltwater fish then I would find a different destination. If you are looking for that one 10 plus pound bonefish that will make your fishing complete than go, but you better bring you’re A-game, remember these fish are DIABOLICAL. There are tons of pics so hopefully you can get through them all.

                Now on to our P-town river conditions, after two weeks in Hawaii I needed a little shot of confidence, so Winston and I headed to the river. I don’t think I have ever seen pooh-dog so happy and I actually watched him prance a little when he first stepped into the river. I saw quite a few fish paired up today and several empty reds. I checked different staging areas and didn’t see fish in them. I started with my January rig and after about an hour of nothing I changed into the super stealthy mode, 6x fluoro and really tiny flies. I caught about a seven incher and then I hooked into a 18inch Pueblo-bonefish(lol...a sucker). My confidence was a little shaken and then for about twenty minutes it just turned on. I landed an 18 and a 20 incher and lost a few more that felt pretty strong. They didn’t get me anywhere near my backing, but listening to my reel scream and seeing my 4 weight “X” thrash around, I felt like I was home. Winston was pleased to be back on his river. Fish today were fooled by a J-bombs, Ninjas and Tube Wings. As always Connell, Cat, Winston, King Kamehameha, and the Drift fly shop want to thank you for reading…

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Digg'n Up Bones

Aloha friends and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. The last several days have been some of the most humbling days fly fishing that I can ever remember. I have come to realize that even though I think that I am a pretty darn good trout fisherman, it has absolutely no correlation as to my bonefish abilities. I was warned before coming to Hawaii that these bones are like no other in the world and even though I believed that, I didn’t think I would spend nine days shaking my head. Cat and I are here with Cody and Kim and a few other friends that have all fished this area before and even they are finding themselves shaking their heads. The first few days I would tell Cody that today is the day, the next few days, were today may be the day and the last few I was thinking about learning how to surf. Now partially to our “un-credit” we have been battling awful cloud cover and the plague all week.
I started telling Cat that we are fishing on the Jeromy Wade schedule, he always spends weeks looking for a particular fish and the morning of his last day he catches the fish he was after. This morning we headed to a different flat that we had only fished once so far and we could not have been rewarded more. In the first ten minutes on the flat I saw more tails than I have seen in the last week. I got some good shots off but the fish that I didn’t blow up, just didn’t seem all that interested. My first few shots were a little embarrassing with panicked casts and then I found a spot that seemed like a Bone highway.   I got a few what I thought were pretty good shots and then I saw my fish moving across, I casted and watched as the fish continued to near my fly. I gave it a little twitch and watched the fish move over and stick his face in the mud. My hands were shaking and as I slow stripped I felt the line come tight. Tip stayed down and the magic exploded. My best way to describe the first run would be like lassoing a speeding dump truck while on roller skates. Before I even had a chance to screw it up I could see my backing flying out of my reel. I quickly chased him to the coral reef and just as I reached it, I could feel that he had wrapped me in the coral. I moved closer to the drop off and was able to reach out and jar it loose. The fish made a short second run and then raised the white flag. I looked around and there was no one to take a pic of my first bone ever. I snapped a few pics but made my mistake of not taking my lanyard off my neck so the pics are a little lame. Fish was right around two feet and around four or five pounds, the pics don’t do it justice.
Last night, Cat and I were laughing about trying to find a bone fish stocker spot but they just don’t exist. The flu has run through our group over the last week and hopefully Cat will be back at it again tomorrow. I feel like I’m playing with house money now and hopefully I can enjoy the rest of the fishing without the pressure. Heck, even if we never bumped a fish, Hawaii is incredible. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Jeremy Wade and the Drift Fly Shop want to say maholo for reading....