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…..