Thursday, December 14, 2017

Laying Tracks.....

           Hello friends and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. I wasn’t planning on fishing today but when I was walking the dogs and saw the snow and the clouds, my mind was changed. Pooh-dog could sense it as well and telepathically told me that he was not quite ready but if I were to give him a half a dozen or so pot biscuits, he would give his knees a try. No matter how much I love fishing with the pups, I just can’t be part that game. Yep, today was a solo day.
            With the snow and clouds, I expected to have the river to myself. Driving by Valco I was a little surprised by the number of vehicles. I got ready and walked down to one of my favorite runs but someone was already there. I was worried that it could be difficult to find quality water but the next run was open. I landed a couple of the 12 inchers and then moved down river. The next run I landed a half a dozen of the same sized fish so I kept moving down. There were lots of other anglers out but I felt a little like Moses today, every time I neared a run, it just opened up. My third run is where most of the excitement came. I landed an 18 incher a few casts in and then it felt like every six casts, I would hook another. I hooked one really big male and after his third time going air born, I felt the dreaded Ker-chunk, and the fly buried in his tail. I gasped and then luckily, it popped out.                                                
            As I made my way down river, it seemed every run produced fish. The majority of the 11 to 13 inchers I landed today I would guess had to be naturals. Even at those sizes, they had a beautiful red stripe and many of them had orange fins. I got into one run and first drift through, my indicator shot up river. I set and immediately felt that it was a toad but he popped off pretty quickly. I casted again and not sure if was the same fish, but what a beauty, a big, fat, red striped 20 incher, my fish of the day. I continued down river and finally, I got to a run that was occupied, my friend Sam was beating up those fish. I went a little further and as the hatch began to ebb; I realized I was at least a mile and a half from my car I started working back up. Every stop seemed to produce a fish or two and at 2:45, the river just shut off. By the time I got back to the car I was hungry and exhausted. Tomorrow might be a great day to weigh in.

            Conditions right now are not easy but there are some great fish to be had. I wanted to throw out a few little tips for this time of the year. I spend a lot of time watching clients and other anglers and one of the biggest problems I see, is people wasting a run with a nonchalant drift. When the fish are gorging, very often, if your first drift is perfect, the fish will eat. Today, many times it would be the fifth or sixth, drift that would get the take. And keep in mind, one poor drift can spook the whole run. Also, keep moving, the whole river is great. A few weeks ago, while making my way through the river, I saw a guy that fished the same run for over five hours. This weekend will be the start of the busy season on the river. I have been informed that the CPW has heavily stocked the river at Juniper Bridge and also Valco bridge. If you have a kid or anyone that just needs to find out what it is like to catch a fish on a fly rod, get to those spots. Catch some and then move on so someone else can enjoy, heck it is the giving season. Most of the fish today were taken on a size 22 FOD and a size 24 Bling. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Moses and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Throw Them Bones

          Hello friends and thanks for checking in at the O’Grady Fly Fishing Adventures. As many of our readers know, Cat and I had our 13th anniversary last week and we decided to celebrate it by the two of us getting away to a secluded island and figuring out how to catch its fish. This was our first time out of the country and even though we were a little or even a lot scared and totally out of our comfort zone, we were going to get some learning. Usually when writing about our trips, I give some type of play-by-play but this blog I wanted to write differently. The video shows a lot of the fun, but this blog will be about some of what we learned. Some of our learning will be explained, some you may have to use your imagination…or come by the shop.
          First and foremost, we were reminded that bone-fishing is not easy. After having such a difficult time hunting bones in Hawaii last year, we were hoping to find “San Isabel” type bones in the Bahamas. We have heard about people catching 20 or 30 bones a day and that is what we expected. What we found was that these fish were almost equally as feisty. I’m going to throw out a quick excuse, we battled clouds, and huge tide swings all week and that didn’t help. The fish themselves, out in the Cay’s, would school up and the most difficult part was finding them on the enormous flats, luckily our guides were really good at that.  In the connected flats, the fish seemed to pair up and if you could find them, the cast needed to land softly a perfect three feet in front of them. On day three, I found out the hard way that a good cast was more important than a quick one. Yep, the only fish I saw that day was thirty feet and coming right at me… and me, a professional fly fishing guide, panicked, dropped my back cast, and left the cast woefully short. I promised myself that no matter how excited I get, I will NOT put another poor cast on a fish.
          Next, we found out what an incredible rod can do. I fished the 7wt Sage Salt HD all week and after the previously mentioned error, the rod worked flawlessly. What a treat. Also, we learned that it doesn’t matter how awesome your 8 wt X is, don’t lift a bone out of the water with the rod…nuff said.
          Next what we learned will be in several parts. There are a lot of sharks in the Bahamas and although they seem pretty harmless, they can still make you need a change of shorts. We saw probably thirty or so swim past us and you could just slap the water and they would move away, but one day, Cat and I were walking a flat about twenty feet apart and Cat was about mid thigh deep. The sun all of a sudden appeared. I looked up and a four or five-footer was about thirty feet out and coming right between us. I asked her if she saw it and just as she said yes, the sun dipped behind the clouds and he disappeared. A little panic set in, and after a minute of neither of us getting eaten, we walked the rest of that flat in ankle deep water. Not all of our shorts made it home with us….nuff said.
We also found out that between a shark and a barracuda of similar size, the cuda is a Bad Dude. Cat had a throw down between a 40 inch cuda and about the same sized shark about ten feet in front of her and the shark made a swim for the border. Also, I think the Barracudas understand that the guides we hired know where the fish are. Several times we had big cudas circling us and when the guide would go back to get his boat, the cuda followed him, and no, I did not mind.
And lastly, how in Gods holy name did the Crocodile Hunter die from a stingray? They are the calmest and most polite creatures in the ocean. I can’t tell you how many times one would swim up to us, lift an eyebrow, flutter his front side and then gently mosey off.
          Now I want to get a little away from the fishing and gab a little about our learning from the island. On this trip we found out what conch is, and in addition we found out how delicious it is. Conch salad and fritters are absolutely delicious. We heard that at the place we liked the most you could watch the owner remove the conch from its shell, pull out the eyeballs and then watch him tenderize and chop it up and put it in your salad. No thanks; I also don’t spend time at the stockyards watching my next steak come to life…yeah poor choice of words. We also had our first lobster burger and it was the best one we have ever had, who would have thought you could make a burger out of lobster.
          The next section will be a bit of a hodgepodge. First, we learned that no matter how many pics you take, the actual colors of the water don’t show accurate; we wish we could take the real colors and implant them in your minds. Secondly, NoSeeUms suck. Our first evening we were fishing from the bank and we knew something was chewing on us. When we could stand it no longer, we called it a day and headed back to the car. I wore out my fingernails and Cat woke up looking like she had the chickenpox. We also learned what Diet Coke from 2006 tastes like today. I think they saw us coming…nuff said. We found a quaint little deli and the special of the day was the “Holliday Club.” I was intrigued so I asked the gal what was a Holliday Club? She looked a little annoyed and grumpily answered, “it’s a club, you know….turkey and ham.”  I must have gotten the extra special one because mine had bacon as well. I also learned that driving on the left side of the road was a lot easier than using the correct turn signal. I can’t tell you how many times I went to turn and turned on the windshield wipers. I guess now I know why I never saw another car use a turn signal the eight days we were there.

          Now this last section is going to get a little mushy. I learned, oh who am I kidding, I have always known, that even when fishing conditions are difficult, there is no one of the face of the Earth that I would rather spend eight days struggling with than my wife. Thanks for thirteen incredible years. And lastly, on a difficult trip, one day can make a difference. We loved fishing with our incredible guides Elvis and Dwayne Knowles but we really wanted to catch a few fish on our own. On our last day on the island, the conditions were almost in our favor. The tide change was a little later than we had hoped, but the sun actually shined all day. We had picked the prettiest place on the island because we wanted to leave with a beautiful picture in our minds. We hunted like every other day and all the weeks learning paid off, we got three of the nicest fish of the week. The beauty of the area was a little humbling and the sense of accomplishment was incredible. Not that the whole week wasn’t great, but the one day made the difference. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, Christopher Columbus and the Drift Fly Shop want to thank you for reading…..And please enjoy our video posted below.

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