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This blog is about my life as a fly fisherman, guide, and fly fishing instructor in and around Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Brief E-mail Q&A With Client

Q: What type of line were we using there? whats the best method for varying the depth you fish? Adjusting the fly or line? Any fly recommendations?

We were using sinking tip and floating tip lines. I think you had the floating tip and Rachel had a 7wt sink tip on a 6wt rod. To vary depth with a floating line which is what I presume you now have, allow more time for your fly to sink before retrieving or stripping the line. You can put a bb split shot (Walmart sells them cheap) above your fly to sink it. Flies for out there would be Clouser minnows and bonefish crazy charlies. The slower you strip in the fly the deeper it will go. Each pause between strips will allow that fly to sink just a bit more before the next retrieve brings it back up. Cast out into the current, perpendicular to shore, and allow the fly to swing with the current downstream. As it is moving from out into the river to the bank it will slowly sink, when the fly line is parallel to the shore begin to slowly strip it in. The stripers, perch, shad, herring, bass, and what ever else might be out there will hit the fly as it is stripped in.

Hope that answers your question, feel free to shoot me an e-mail if that does not clarify.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fly Fishing For Carp



I met Basil at a small business conference last winter. We planned on fishing for several months and finally got out together on Friday last. We headed down to the flooded Tidal Basin. From the bridge I could see gar, snakeheads (one of which I hooked from the bridge), needlefish, and carp. I watched the carp splashing in the flooded grasses across the basin via binoculars as I waited for Basil.  There was even a snakehead chilling on the flooded sidewalk.

Basil arrived and we walked to the flooded area. The carp were literally under our feet. We started fishing and got into our first fish withing a few minutes. We were fishing foam depots as strike indicators with bead head Kaufman rubber legged stones as droppers. The problem with catching a carp on a flooded sidewalk is that they head for deeper water when you set the hook. The carp immediately went off the sidewalk and down into the depths of the Tidal Basin.

Basil and I both landed the first carp of our fishing careers. We were hooking into them every 15-20 minutes. One of the fish broke off 8lb Seaguar so I switched up to 20lb Berkley Vanish Spool for insurance purposes.







My first carp took the fly and was off. I hollered for Basil to get the net and he waded through the knee deep sidewalk as I beached the fish. We took several pictures and released it.








Basil hooked into two monsters. His rod was bent and I was waiting for the graphite to explode. We were using Orvis Hydros 9' 6wt  and the Orvis Hydros 966-4 rods. One with a Orvis mid arbor reel and one with an Orvis DXR.  Basil beached both carp which were much bigger than the one I landed. The fish threw the hooks as soon as they were on dry land and flopped around to get back in. I was not fast enough with the net. Basil was making River Monsters look like a wus.




In addition to the big carp, several orange koi like fish were swimming around, Basil hooked a needlefish, and I hooked two gar. One gar was beached and threw the hook before I could pin it down for a photograph. I pushed a gar with my rod tip and the one it was swimming with (mate?) leaped out of the water and into my thigh! Basil then hooked a tiny bass on his foam depot.


By 4pm Basil had to get to the driving range and I had to get to Lyon Hall.

It was an epic afternoon of carp fishing. We both had never hooked or landed a carp before and by the end of the day we had each caught and landed a handful. Awesome.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fly Fishing For Snakeheads

Fly Fishing For Snakeheads - Rewarded After Year(s) of Hard Work

The threat of afternoon thunderstorms went away after lunch today. After reading a tpfr.org post about the carp biting in the Tidal Basin I decided to head down there. I tied up some 20 second nymphs for the trip, a bead head on a shrimp hook. Black rubber leg tail and a dubbed body with rubber legs behind the bead.
I got to the tidal basin and first noticed gar, needlefish, carp, and snakeheads. It was awesome. One snakehead decided to swim up onto the flooded sidewalk and hang out.

I moved down the basin and set up camp in some flooded waters. I tied on a scorpion bug with the nymph as a dropper. Not long into a few casts with a slow retrieve I hooked a nice channel cat. The benefit of tourists walking by is that they will gladly take your picture with your camera. 

Some of the people want to hold the fish and be photographed by me

I continued fishing and got another tug on my line. I set the hook and before I knew it my line was slicing across the water and I was into my backing. Several minutes later and a crowd of kids jeering me on I landed a carp. The thing was foul hooked. I wish the fish would tell me earlier before I land them that they are tail hooked. I showed the kids the fish and released it to the flooded sidewalk.

I moved down the trail a bit more and saw several gar, koi, carp, and snakeheads. I was casting to the shallow waters on the edge of the sidewalk and slowly stripping as if fishing a midge in a lake. My line went tight and I set the hook. To my surprise a snakehead came up. I had the thing hooked well and backed up to prevent the fish from getting off the flooded trail and into the deep. I backed into the fence and was able to hand my camcorder to a tourist who gladly recorded the whole thing.

I had the fish up in the shallows and fought it for 2 minutes. It slashed and fought and then gave up once its belly was up on the grass. The thing looked big. Huge. I was getting ready to beach it when it got back into the water and my leader wrapped around the rod. I tried to grab the fish but it pulled and popped the tippet.

The fly (the same nymph as before)  broke off (8lb umpqua leader) and the fish just sat there exhausted. I did the first thing that came to mind-I kicked the thing toward shore. I kicked it once and it moved to shallower water. Then again and finally had it pinned where I could pick it up. I grabbed it and ran to dry land where I dumped it on the sidewalk.

I spent the next 30 minutes trying to photograph it and be photographed with it. I had school groups come by and get close ups of it. I explained why I had to kill it due to the laws, its biology, and its history as an introduced species in the tidal Potomac. We measured it at 34" nose to tail!

I finally broke down and decided to kill the fish. Not something I found easy to do. I wanted to keep the skull to study it (as the last one I kept was removed by a critter in the night). I took out my Leatherman wave and cut the head off. It was not as traumatic to me as I had expected and hoped it was quick and painless to the fish. I let it bleed out in the shallows and then got a plastic bag b some folks from northern Indiana. I put the head in the bag and headed home.



Essential Gear | A Proper Wading Jacket | Kokatat Tempest

I have worn them all. Patagonia SST, Orvis Tailwaters, Cabelas XRT Wading jacket, Barbour, Marmot (the jacket I wear in the snow), and more. All of the above have failed me on the water to keep me dry and comfortable in a rainstorm- downpours-torrential rains from sunrise to sunset. Specifically, velcro strips to tighten over the wrist don't work. Rain coats made by anglers just don't work. Get one made by people that get submerged in water all day.

I sold the Orvis jacket to a guy in Russia via ebay. The SST jacket was returned and THW used the money toward a ski shell. The Cabelas jacket is in the dry hatch of my boat for clients. Barbour jackets are just not made for fishing, they are reserved for going out on the town.



This all started around 2002 when Tom and I went steelhead fishing in New York on the Salmon River. It was cold and rainy. And by rainy, it rained the entire week. We camped in the rain and slept in wet tents. We fished in the rain and had to hang our gear bags from the trees due to the stream bank being submerged. Our only respite was going to the Ponderosa in Pulaski and  laying our gear out on the empty booths to dry.

The weather was so bad that Tom and I had the entire upper length of the lower fly stretch to ourselves. We could only see about 20 feet in any direction. And it was the best week of steelhead fishing we have ever experienced! On a side note, it was yellow or pink estaz flies or size 12 flash back pheasant tail nymphs. 

This was the week I started using 2-handed or spey rods. My right arm was always at an angle holding the cork and rain constantly seeped through the 'dry' cuffs on my tailwaters jacket. My wool sweater and base layers were soaked. I was cold and pissed off. This was all by 0600 and we fished until dinner time each day. This is a picture of how hard the rain was for the first 3 days.





 Tying up flies in Ponderos. 



If the fishing had not been so phenomenal I would not have noticed how miserable I was. I wanted a raincoat that would keep water from running down my sleeves, from blowing into my hood and then draining down my neck. I had spoke to the owner of a now defunct company called Ghillies Gear. He made a nice jacket. I asked if he could make a fly fishing jacket based on a kayaking dry top. He said he and I would buy it but 99% of his clients wouldn't. I was stuck with my leaky rain gear.

In 2003 I started to work at the local outdoor store, Hudson Trail Outfitters. I purchased an Imersion Research jacket. It had latex gasket wrists and neck. It was terribly difficult to put on but once I was in that jacket I could literally dive into the Salmon River and come out with just my face and hands wet (while wearing waders of course). I purchased an XL size so I could properly layer underneath, to include my North Face Nuptse down vest.

With this jacket I was weathproof. The rain and wind could not enter my jacket. I could submerge my arm to the stream bottom to pull out snags and land fish. I may have looked goofy in a raspberry and grey jacket but I was dry and that was most important. Here is Joe's camp with my gear drying out on the sofa.

I fished with that jacket for a few years. I ended up having to put on a neck gator to protect me from cold air coming down the river. That was the jacket's one fault- other than putting it on and off-no hood.

I spent a few years searching for a dry cuff and neck kayak dry top with a hood and finally found one. After extensive internet research and using the Google shopping function, I found the Kolkatat Tempest  Paddling Jacket:

http://www.kokatat.com/products/jackets/tropos-tempest-jacket-men.html


Here are the specs: Kokatat: Kokatat Tempest Paddling Jacket - Altrec.com Product Description: Waterproof/breathable TROPOS fabric keeps out splash and spray, and the latex wrist gaskets keep arms dry while landing your catch. The Kokatat Tempest Paddling Jacket also has an integrated hood which can be stowed away when not needed, and a double skirt integrates with pants or bibs to offer a dry ride even in rough conditions. 3M® reflective highlights keep you safe in fog or low-light conditions.
  • TROPOS fabric
  • Hooded pullover
  • APT collar
  • Skirted to mate with pants
  • 3M®reflective tape on hood and sleeve
  • Left sleeve pocket with reflective tape
  • Adjustable bungee self fabric hem allows easy on/off
  • Factory sealed seams

Sure the jacket is 'mango' colored and people have made fun of me for scaring the fish- but it works. I've never been more comfortable on the water all day when its pouring. Be it wet wading or rowing my drift boat. The color is a bonus if say you get stranded or lost or injured and someone had to come looking for you. Frank and Steve will agree about orange jackets. The reflective tap let people down stream know where you are when they are finding a spot before sunlight. The tape also reflects light when you are on the water for boats to see you. 

I don't know how many of these jackets are left on the market but you should get one before they are gone. I should get one as a backup.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recent Images | Reston & Kids Fly Fishing


We sight cast to this largemouth which chased the popper on 1st cast and then took the damsel nymph on the 2nd cast.




Check out the blue hues on the largemouth. Lots of fish have this coloration this year.
Big and beautiful pumpkinseed.







First fish on a fly rod. 6th grader. She gets one on the 'Foam Depot' and one on the damsel dropper.

12th grader lands the biggest fish of the day.


Bug-eyed bluegill.

Smallest fish of the day. I call these 'fish-tank sized'.
Water snake sunning itself-in the shade on a nasty old pontoon boat.


This was the first landed fish on Sunday. It took the damsel nymph just past the end of a pontoon boat.
2 flies - 2 fish. Bass nunchucks.

 
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