Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ptarmigan and the X-Terra....

  I still remember the first time I ever saw an X-Terra commercial, the song being cranked was  “I want to get away” from Lenny Kravitz. The song and the commercial started a secret love affair that took nearly twenty years before finally being realized last Memorial day. Cat and I started thinking about replacing “The Van” shortly after both the boys left home a few years ago, the problem was that it was just so practical. Fishing trips were easy, tons of room and great gas mileage and lots of great memories, but just not very tough. This was the weekend that Cat and I decided to finally put the 4-wheels to use. We went up the back way to Ptarmigan, turning the first corner we saw lots of rocks and ruts. Thirty grand kept bouncing around in my head but I kept reminding myself that this is why we bought this car. The X-Terra made it up like a true champion with the only problem being some “in a hurry atv’rs”  that  scraped the back of our vehicle. We got to the top at about 6:30P.M. and the rain started shortly there after. We sat in the car for about an hour and a half playing games before the rain finally ended and then set up the tent. We set out for the lake at about 7:30 A.M. and found it only took about twenty minutes from that side. The weather was exactly what was expected, about 40 over night and about 6o when we got to the lake. So nice after spending the last month in the sauna known as Pueblo. We caught 15 or 20 fish with the largest being about a 15inch fatty that Cat landed. The fish seemed to be feeding off and on all day long, five casts in a row with takes then ten without. The trip back down the hill was a little more scary, lots of blind spots. I have a whole new respect for you true 4-wheel drivers. All in all I would have to say our first true 4-wheel drive adventure was a success, we are home and alive.              

  On another note, I saw the river dropped here again in town and temps at Moffat Street hit 77 degrees. Fishing can still be good here early in the day but please be cognizant about fighting the fish quickly and getting the fish back in the water as quickly as possible. The warmer water depletes the oxygen level in the water that when combined with over exertion can be fatal to the fish. Thank you as always for reading and remember, this may be the only river we ever get….Connell

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summertime Blues???????????????????

  One of the greatest parts of being a guide and being affiliated with the Drift Fly Shop is getting the privilege of answering questions as an “expert” and “knower of all things in the river”. One of the toughest parts of being a guide and affiliated with the Drift Fly shop is having people ask questions of me and always being expected to give “expert” advice because I should be the “knower of all things about the river”.   Both in the shop and while guiding we get so many questions as to what is going on at the moment and when things are going to change. We try to give all the correct answers but in reality we are only guessing since we have never seen conditions like what we have experienced this summer.                                                                          

   I am writing this blog trying to talk about some of the changes I have observed over the last week or so. My favorite time to be on the water is when the BWO’s are hatching and I can watch fish move into feeding lanes and go to town. Watching the whites of the mouths as they open and shut rates at about an eight on the turn on meter, and yes, Cat still rates at a ten. May, June and even the first week of July all seemed to be awesome BWO days. I have been stuck working days as of late so my time on the water has been after 4:00 and the last few times out I have seen less and less BWO’s. Last night while fishing, the Who's "aint no cure for the summertime blues" kept running through my head. It was the first time since February that I was not worn out from hooking and fighting fish. I was out for about three hours and only saw one small trico that landed on me just as I was heading out, I saw a spattering of caddis but nothing to really get the fish excited. Hooked several but only landed two smaller fish. I talked to Alex, Cody and Scooter and they have told me that they are still seeing hatches early in the day but not at the same rate they were at just a few weeks ago.

  So the question is, is it still worth it to go fishing? Absolutely!!!! But it may just be time to change up some of the tactics. Midges are a year around food source so try to make your last fly very small. If you have been out as of late you probably have noticed all of the tiny baitfish schooling up on the sides of the river. This would be a great time to have Alex or Cody teach you the finer side of streamer fishing. Over the weekend they hooked several fish over 20 inches on streamers. If you can make it out early in the day, make sure you have a plethora of trico patterns, the fish do seem to key in on certain things during trico hatches(does not ever seem to be the same thing) hence the variety. Try some of the Froggs Fanny or the Doc’s dry dust powder to bring the emergers into the correct feeding zone and give it the extra pizzazz for the picky fish. And lastly, remember that we are addicted to this sport because it is fun, try to keep it that way, even if you are not hooking up on every cast, you could be stuck at work…..The Who was wrong, there is a cure for the summertime blues, get out and enjoy As always, I thank you for reading and hope you find this blog to be useful and if not hopefully at least amusing..Connell
The Drift Fly Shop 719-543-3900

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Arkansas Tailwater July 5th through July 9th

  I quite often get asked the questions as to rather or not I really like guiding, or if I ever want to just grab the rod out of my clients hand and catch the fish myself? I usually answer by telling the story of a time awhile back when I was fishing in the Reservoir Drive area. I was walking up the bank and I looked across the river and saw a guy that looked as if he had just been released from prison. Tattoos, long hair and a white muscle shirt (built like he could break me in two), the type of person that if you saw walking up your side of the street, you would probably cross and high tail it out of there. I went up about fifty yards and had landed several fish when I heard the guy shriek with joy, sounding almost like a three year old at 5:00A.M. on Christmas morning.” I got one, I got one” he started screaming and then a large expletive followed by laughing when the fish came off half way in. I listened to him giggle for a few minutes and when someone walked by on the trail up above he started “with utter joy” to tell the stranger that he had hooked a monster but it came off half way in. He wasn’t even fly fishing but just listening to someone hook a fish and hearing the joy that it brought this rather rough man reminded me of why I started fly fishing myself.

   Being the big fish snob that I have become, I sometimes forget the joys of catching all sizes of fish but guiding usually seems to remind me of the joy fishing is supposed to bring, even if the clients aren’t as perfect as I expect them to be.hehe. One of the guide trips over the weekend had a client battle a 16 inch tank of a rainbow for several minutes and after landing it he turned to me and, a little shakily said “thank you Connell that is the first time I have ever had to fight a fish”. Several of my clients this weekend landed their first ever fish on a fly rod and almost every client was giddy with a new love for fly fishing. Finishing up those kinds of weekends reminds me of why I find guiding so satisfying, oh and the enormous tips are pretty awesome also.

  Cat and I made it out tonight for a few hours and as typical had a lot of fun. Fishing right now is good but I would not put it in the easy category. With the lower flows, the fish are getting a lot of time to examine both your flies and your drifts and any extra line on the water or dragging of the flies and the fish will be laughing at you. Cat had the largest and the most landed tonight with her prize fish being an 18inch fatty. The water was brought up to 250 today and was just slightly off colored, just enough to switch to 4x fluoro. Lots of hooked fish and  most coming unbuttoned on the way in seems to back up my idea that the fish mouths are still very soft right now. Don’t get frustrated but just enjoy the fish you are actually hooking. The pictures are of a few of the clients over the weekend and Cats 18incher at the bottom. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy the water……Connell

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tamed by the Taylor

  The Bengal Tiger in the wild is one of the most ferocious, and majestic, head of the food chain animals alive. It prowls and feeds on anything and everything and walks around with its chest sticking out as if to say “yep, I am the king of the world”. When you see them at the zoo or even hanging out with Jake Jabbs on the AFW commercials they just don’t look the same, as if some of their majesty has been stolen from them. Trying not to sound to cocky but it is kind of the way I feel going from the Ark and going to the Taylor.  Fishing the Arkansas here in P-town has become almost second nature, I know most drifts, rocks, eddies, shelf’s, riffles and when fishing it my chest sticks out a little and , well you know….

  The Taylor on the other hand makes me at times feel like that zoo Tiger at the back of the cage that after losing its will to be the king of the world, it sleeps while the zoo is open and the only thing you ever get to see is the one paw sticking up in the air behind a rock at the back of the cage. Yeah, Cat and I are still usually head of the food chain while fishing the Taylor but we often feel like we are getting whipped not by the trainer but by the fish themselves. Every time we fish there we feel like we get trained a little more and hopefully some day we can fish it like it is our own jungle.

  This year the Taylor fish didn’t ever seem to fall into any feeding patterns. You could see a great Mayfly hatch come off and the fish would ignore it and not move into feeding lanes and just continue to lay on the bottom. Then, out of the blue they would move over and grab a few bugs then back to nothing. Cat and I finally started just walking up and down the bank and waited to see fish feed and cast. Sometimes bingo and others times squat. Frustrated one sec and I’m the man next. The FOD was the best fly of the week followed by the RS2 with the glass bead.  This year’s trip includes Cat and myself, Winston, my youngest son Brandon and my brother in law from Omaha, Jim. We fished the Taylor four days and went down and fished the Roaring Judy area one day. Brandon and I had a blast on the East, I had not thrown dries in a while and had forgotten how fun it was to watch the browns shoot off the bottom and destroy your fly. I still think this is my favorite trip of the year just because of the great company, beautiful scenery and awesome cool weather. When I see those AFW commercials I always worry that someday we will  hear about how Jakes prize Tiger had decided to return to its majestic and ferocious self, I hope someday on the Taylor I will do the same………

   The video is part of our constant pursuit of perfection for our Fly Fishing videos, Cat is getting very good at editing and hopefully we will continue to improve in bringing our readers quality material. Now if I can learn to write a little better. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy the video…