Monday, January 16, 2012

The Midwest Fly Fisher Part 1

I was 11 years old when my parents bought me my first fly rod.  It was a White River 5wt. and I was grateful of the generous purchase, especially since my father kept telling me how expensive it was.
I fished all the time back then with my friends, but bringing a fly rod to the lake one day was like listening to a foreign language.  My buddies watched and chuckled as I tangled myself up in the thick orange line.  It was not long until I was back to throwing my squirm and squirt jig under a small panfish bobber, catching crappie.  I brought that fly rod with me all over the place trying to get the line out far enough to entice something to hit my offering.  The rod was stepped on about 7 months after I got it.  It was never the same after that and I forgot about it.
Fishing was a big part of my life until high school. Girls, sports, and everything else that a high school student goes through got in the way.  We would still get out a few times a year, but nothing like when we were in our early teens and did not have a responsibility in the world.  It was not until after we all graduated that fishing picked back up again.
NT moved to Ohio for school and claimed the fishing out there was incredible.  He told me what to pick up for a fishing trip for walleye and steelhead.  An item on the list was a fly rod.  I picked up the only brand name I knew, an 8wt. White River fly rod and some ESL and egg patterns his buddy suggested.  I was ready to fly fish, or so I thought.
We got to the river later then expected for our only time on the water chasing steel.  NT's buddy who has fished this river since he was little was there to guide us around.  He showed us a few casting tips in the parking lot.  It was here that I realized I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Stepping into the water casting a fly rod that day was like doing it for the first time.  The casting pointers helped out and I was drifting woolly buggers with a strike indicator through pools.  I was working a pool along some downed trees when the indicator danced on the surface.  With a quick hook-set, the battle was on.  The fish went airborne a few times which got the attention of the guys I was with.  Everyone came running over to see the smallmouth bass break the surface again.  I fought the fish for a few minutes before the line snapped.  I had no idea what I was doing and it was perfect!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The World Without Fish

About three months ago my girlfriend and I were shopping for books for the little man when we stumbled upon a book called "World Without Fish" by Mark Kurlanksy.  Of course we had to buy it since it deals with one of my favorite subjects, fish.
I noticed that it is recommended for children nine and up after sitting down to read it the first night.  I realized that this book wouldn't be able to keep the attention of a six month old but it did keep the attention of this 26 year old.  Flipping through this 181 page book really made me think about the impact of everyday fisherman have on the population.
Seeing other anglers on the water can be encouraging and disheartening all at the same time.  It is nice to see a few faces here and there while working a stretch of water that may be new and unfamiliar.  I usually will stop and talk to anyone that is fishing, striking up the the typical, "any luck?" question that sparks a conversation between all fisherman.  These are the anglers I enjoy seeing on the water.  The people that "do it right" if there is such a thing.
As a fly fisherman I pay attention to the conservation of the waters I fish.  The ecosystem is what fuels and allows flies of different types to work.  Some fly fisherman frown upon any other type of angling but I do not.  If the method used is responsible and keeps the area no different then how it was before the angler was even there then I am okay with it.
It is the anglers that leave their garbage behind, snag fish and keep them, do not follow creel limits, and avoid all fishing regulations that I have a problem with.  Bodies of water have important creel and regulations based on studies and fish surveys.  This explains the size limits varying from one stretch of river to another based on the location and blockages such as a dam.
These anglers pollute and destroy the environment each time they are out and usually promote these antics to other anglers, or worse, their kids.  Whether its cigarette butts, soda cans, worm containers, or a bunch of fishing line, whenever I come across these items, all I an do is shake my head.  I know a few anaglers (myself included) that will actually try and pick up some of this garbage to keep the natural beauty of the water.  A river can have such mystique to it when walking the shore or wading the banks.  It is a nice thought wondering if anyone has ever saw the beauty that I am looking at right now.  All of that wonder and enjoyment can disappear quickly after coming across a garbage pile left from the previous user.
It is up to us, the users who do not take the outdoors for granted, to make a difference.  Make a comment when you see someone snagging fish or polluting the waters.  Call the local DNR and file a report on the person.  And teach kids how to not only respect the outdoors, but to also enjoy them.  No matter what happens, their will always be people that disrespect and do not follow the rules, but its the generation of true outdoorsman that can help keep mother nature as beautiful and plentiful as it can be.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Root

After this past fall fishing trip to the Root River, I have been looking forward to getting a line in the water on some of the new water we explored.  My time finally came this morning.
The drive up was pretty smooth from Chicagoland.  I headed to the main dam on the river since I heard a couple of guys had great luck there last weekend.  Knots all tied, black and orange popsicle fly tied on, and the cigar was lit.  It was time to head to the water.  I worked a nice hole that gave up a few kings in previous years.  I was about 5 drifts in when I had my first bump.  After a quick strip set, the fight was on.
Unfortunately the fight didn't last as long as most would hope.  The fish was unbuttoned within the first 45 seconds of the fight but I was able to get a look at the Brown Trout that had my heart racing.  He was only about 20inches but still hurt to feel the tug no more.  I was able to get a picture of this little guy cruising the opposite shoreline.
After about another 30 minutes of working this hole, I decided to head out to fish the water I came across back in October.  The quick five minute drive had me pass the Weir Dam which was open for business allowing migrating fish to get above and beyond.  This was great news since the new water was just upstream of there.  A quick gathering of the gear and walk down a man made trail and I came across superb looking water.  The water level was a little lower then I had hoped for, but it was clear and allowed me to survey about 3/4 of a mile.  The substrate is perfect for spawning steelhead and would be perfect holding areas for migrating fish.  I hope to be in the moving river after a nice rain fall in the future.  Until next time...