Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Nature of the Hunt

          Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. I sat down this morning with Christmas songs humming through my brain and I was planning on writing my yearly “Merry Christmas “blog and then I made a huge mistake. I jumped on my Facebook feed and in two and a half videos my mind went from pure Christmas joy to pure Nature. The first video on my scroll was a pelican grabbing a pigeon and slowly draining the life out of him in his gullet. The next video down was an absolutely gorgeous eagle swooping in and was so powerful that he took down a goat. The final video was like watching a proverbial train wreck; a lioness sat behind a bush as a line of wildebeests ran by. I remember watching the Lion King many years ago with my youngest and even though the cartoon showed lions as thoughtful and nice, I knew that I didn’t want to see it but I could not take my eyes off. The lioness flinched on a few occasions but was waiting for the perfect meal. I felt completely paralyzed and was unable to scroll down or look away and the out of nowhere, a giant male lion came flying past and took down his dinner. At last, my trance was lifted and I quickly scrolled down my feed but not before my Christmas thoughts had been removed from my head.
          Now I know some of you may have heard this story before but I’m pretty sure this is the first time it has made the blog. Now I know with most of my stories either get better or more epic with time, this one may go the other way. When I was in high school I had a friend that asked me if I wanted to go hunting with him. My family had never really been in to that and I thought that I might as well give it a try. The first day out we only ran across one pheasant, when he took off I quickly aimed and got off a couple of rounds. The bird was not harmed, but the feeling of complete power raced through my veins. Shortly after that I began practice shooting and quickly became a proficient pheasant hunter and the power feeling began to grow. Pheasants, rabbits, geese and even trying to figure out how to move up the ladder into big game and then one day I had what some people call a “come to God moment”. It was like any other November day with me and my trusty sidekick German Sheppard at my side and I flushed a rooster. Like second nature I raised, shot and watched the bird fall out of the sky. I hurried over to make sure that he didn’t run off and as I reached for him he turned his head and looked me square into the eye and somehow, telepathically asked me why I hurt him.  I froze and probably felt like the Grinch after hearing the songs out of Whoville. I went home that day and after cleaning my gun, I put it in its case and I don’t think it has been out since. Yes, I am very aware that I am a wuss and maybe even a hypocrite. You see I love a good steak, chicken, a Christmas turkey and I have even been to Cody’s for dinner and eaten, venison, salmon, crappie, and elk(my mouth is watering), I guess I just can’t handle the kill.
          So as I’m writing this blog it has become crystal clear to me why I love fly fishing so much. You see I have never missed the kill (excluding maybe a few bait fisherman, poor drivers or certain politicians)jkjk, but the hunt was missing for many years. And it might even explain why I can’t look away on the videos. The Eagle dropping in and its wings partially collapse, you can almost see the air holding him up. The lioness patiently plotting out which beast to take down and the pelican using its different mouth muscles snuffing out the pigeon. Its kind of funny that even still today when I sit down to tie, I find myself slightly salivating because this might be the fly that lands my fish of the day. When I get to the river and I see “my spot” open, I find myself feeling like the eagle swooping in. And with the lions, if you wait too long to take the cast, I might just take it out from under you, good thing the line of fish is still there. And the best thing of all, you can net the fish, take a quick pic, release the fish and on the way home, stop and eat a slopper.
          So if you have skipped the hunt of this fly fishing blog and have moved straight to the kill then this is your start. The river temps this week have moved the river into a really tricky zone. Personal days and guide trips have been fun but not easy. On the days when the water warms even just a little, we have seen some great BWO hatches. On the days when the water never really warms the BWOs have been sparse and midges seem to be the meals. The FOD has been the ticket before 2:00 p.m. and after the fish have been on Ninjas and Black Beauties. The adult Thorax BWO  has still been attracting lips. So as I close out this blog I want to go back to what Cat and I initially wanted to say; We hope that all of you have an incredible Christmas and we hope to see you all on the river next year. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Simba, and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading……

Monday, December 14, 2015

Getting Your Money's Worth.....


               Hello all and thanks for checking in at The O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. During my guide trip today I had a little time to think about how my fishing has changed over the years, and today’s trip seemed to wrap these changes in the proverbial nutshell.
Before taking clients out on the water, I typically contact them ahead of time to isolate what their goals are for the trip. The gentlemen I had the pleasure of guiding today, Curt and Mitch, were pretty new to fly fishing and really wanted today to be a learning trip and weren’t highly concerned with the number or size of fish. And any honest guide would tell you... those are definitely our favorite types of trips. So to the water we went and after a short period of time Mitch began to notice fish rising all around him. I switched his rig and after landing four fish, he was floating on cloud-nine. With Mitch satisfied and smiling, I turned my attention to Curtis. After we worked out a few bugs, (no pun intended) we watched a big red stripe move into the feeding lane in front of us. First cast was a foul ball, but the second was a homerun. The battle was fierce and then an absolutely gorgeous 20.5 inch bow was landed. Now this was the only fish that Curtis landed today, but if you’re only going to land one make it count. Much like a photograph being worth a thousand words, sometimes a trophy fish is worth a hundred dinks.
            So how did today fit my fishing career to a “T” While landing medium fish on the surface brought my client great joy, his eyes changed from delight to longing after seeing his friend’s big catch, and a fire was lit inside him to land his own monster. I remember when the fire caught inside myself. It’s been a few years since I landed that first toad, but it sure made catching huge numbers of smaller fish a little less exciting. The rumor circles that long time “pig hunters” like myself, eventually go back to enjoying every fish that has been properly tricked and played. I would have to say that I have found myself enjoying every fish a little more this year. The rumor is slowly becoming fact for me. I have thrown more dry flies over the last month than I think I have thrown over the last five years put together, and have been enjoying every minute of it.
            I fished a little on Saturday and found myself tossing dries to sippers most of the day. Fishing has not been in the easy category the last few trips out. During the hatches, fish seem to be moving into really slow water and are getting a ton of time to look at the flies which also gives them the option to be picky. As the main hatch begins to ebb, I have managed to get a couple of nice fish to the net in quicker water. Once again, I must be a better guide than a fisherman, my best fish on Saturday was just a tad over nineteen. The FOD nymph and the Thorax BWO dry have been the flies producing the best as of late.

As always, Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..

                                    A few from Saturday..

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Guilty Pleasures

          Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. If you have read the title and are reading just so you can hear more of the maniacal, diabolical, “on the fence” dirty mind of Connell, then you have been tricked. Today’s special edition will be about my dogs and how they behave like fishermen.
I know most of you have read so much about Winston over the years that you might feel as if he is partially your own, but some of you may not know that Cat and I actually have another dog. Mushka is an Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, with “terror” being a fitting root of the word. We absolutely love her to death, but she does have a mind of her own. While Winston may be the simplest dog in the world, he loves fishing and eating, chasing balls and eating, getting petted and eating...... and I think you get the point. Mushka on the other hand, has one favorite thing to do. Her favorite pass time is to dominate and harass her little brother Winston. When we feed them at night, Winston practically inhales his dinner in seconds and Mushka takes her time. Occasionally, when she’s really feeling sassy she will only finish half of her bowl and lay next to it while angrily staring at Winston, daring him to come near. We have even left the house at different times with this scenario playing out and come home three hours later and see the dogs have not moved, Winston’s drool puddle is just a little larger. Now Winston has a few tricks up his own sleeve, but those are for a different blog. Today’s writing is all about the bone.
          I guess if we were better or smarter dog parents we would probably buy different sized bones for our dogs. After reading the first line it is pretty obvious that we only get one size and it never seems to satisfy both pups. We have gone with the larger size and it is funny what happens after doling them out on those special evenings. Now the first part of the treating process is just like their feeding time. Mushka nibbles and Winston burns through even the largest and toughest bones in minutes. Now the difference from feeding is the look Winston has after finishing his special treat. He jumps into his chair (yes he has his own recliner) and stares at Mushka. Cat seems to think he has a look of self-pity because since Muska is still nibbling on hers, Winston believes her bone was obviously larger than his from the start. The look he wears could also be interrupted as self-loathing, almost like he can’t believe that once again he ate his bone without taking the time to enjoy it fully. When at last Mushka’s bone is gone, the treats are forgotten and Winston moves on to what Mamma is cooking for dinner.
          So how does the dog bone experience correlate to fishermen? For almost eleven years now, Cat has watched fishermen come back into the shop after fishing all day, with expressions which resemble Winston “post bone.” To explain what I mean I’m going to throw my own self-control problems into the fray here as well. One of my issues while fishing is that occasionally I get locked into a run. I get into one of my faves and after hooking a few right away I become entranced and refuse to move in for hours, stayed even after the fish have wised up to me and my tactics. Yep on those days I mosey on back to my car thinking “why didn’t I move into this or that run today? It would have been much better.” At these times my face undeniably mirrors Winston’s self-loathing expression. If only I would have enjoyed the bone. On the same note, two friends will come in, one guy will have a sly grin like Muska and his friend looks sad. Almost every time something is said along the lines of, “if he would have just listened and did it my way he would have had far more fun with the fish (bone). And lastly, we read the face of the self-pitying fishermen, which reads, “my friend had all the good holes, the bone is always bigger on the other side of the river.” Well luckily for us, as with the pups, there are always more bones to be had and days of fishing to be enjoyed. In the end no matter how fast you eat it or how small the bone is, like a day of fishing, perception can be the keys to happiness.
          As we near Christmas, I wanted to bring up a few ideas for my fellow anglers. Gift giving season might be the perfect time to satisfy your fly fishing needs. Now I know the season is supposed to be all about the birth of our savior, but the gifting part is going to happen as well so we should be prepared. The first suggestion I have is for you to recommend that your loved ones buy you gift certificates from the Drift. Fly Fishermen are extremely unique in their tastes/and needs and with a gift certificate not only will it ensure you receive what you want, but there is a hidden benefit to them as well.  By having a gift certificate in hand it gives you free license to hang-out at the shop without causing marital strife, because after all you were “trying to spend your gift.” Not only this, but when that special gear calls to you mid-summer and you bring it home there will be no argument over paying for it, or hiding it in the truck until payday, instead you can walk through the door with your new baby in hand and give your loved one a hug and a thank you for their thoughtfulness. (A serious win-win).
The second suggestion I wanted to bring up is the new Sage Pulse rods which came out earlier this fall. I don’t normally push much of the mid-priced rods, but Sage really did something right with the Pulse. The rod is quick, snappy, light, well balanced, sexy, super easy to cast, and has incredible feel. For anyone looking to upgrade from entry level, this rod could definitely be looked at as a lifer. If you haven’t played with one yet I recommend coming in and giving it a few casts.

And lastly, I wanted to remind everyone about the Drift’s Merry Fishmas party that will be held at the shop on December 19th from 4pm to 8pm. We will have food, drinks, sales, contests and of tons of fish stories and merriment. Winston might even stop by for picture opportunities and autograph signings. The party is fee to attend and we welcome everyone to stop by! As always Connell, Cat, Winston, Mushka, and The Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..  

                                        Mushka with Baby brother Winston

Mushka "Guarding" Mommy's Side Of The Bed. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Didn't See That One Coming...

            Hello all and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures blog. Just when a person thinks they have seen everything this beautiful river has to offer, it steps up an Amazes me again. So I had a client fishing to rising fish today and our local Blue Heron began to watch us fish. My client, Doug, hooked a fish and as he was fighting it, the bird flew over his head and landed behind him. I was thinking that the bird was hoping that we would throw him the fish but the Heron took matters into his own talons. As the fish was being brought in the Heron flew in and dive bombed the fish.  The fish was ambushed only around 6 or 7 feet from Doug and after breaking the line the bird almost seemed to smile as he floated off and ate his prize. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen, and then I got annoyed, the Heron didn’t even have a license and he didn’t practice “catch and release”.
            So if you have been on the river over the last week or so than you will probably have seen the crowds are beginning to show up. Guide trips and personal fishing have been a mixed bag. At times, fish are feeding like crazy and other times I have found myself pulling my hair out (and yes I know it looks like I have had more of the ladder). If you can, bring a second rod with a double dry set-up. Fish have been taking FOD’s, J-Bombs and Black midges and for dries, size 18 and 20 of your favorite BWO. If you haven’t been on the river than get out, don’t let the crowds scare you away, there is always a place to catch a fish or feed a bird. Pics are from the last few guide trips. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, the Great Blue Heron thief and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…….