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Sunday - December 1
I trust everyone had a great Thanksgiving week! We had a real nice holiday ourselves and it was nice to see so many folks here on the river! I'm usually not here on such holidays but it just worked out that it was going to be too much running around to head to the Port and back! And since the wife is now retired she came up and pretty much relaxed for a few days!
The cold started to moderate a bit as the week went on, though it was pretty dog-gone chilly through Thanksgiving Day! Particularly in the mornings... Officially 25° - 22° and 22° for those three mornings! Much better now!
On Friday and Saturday Dee Radin and Melissa Fields (Houston, TX) were here to see what they could learn and how the fish might treat them!
<<<<< Dee Radin very close to getting her hands on one!
They learned a lot and the fish treated them pretty much like everybody else this week. Not horribly, but not exactly decent either! Everyone was having some trouble getting fish to et serious this week. The reports I got were only mildly exciting. If you could find a concentration of fish anywhere, you might catch a few of them... That's about how things went. It just wasn't great fishing and I don't really have an explanation for it!
I thought we were on to something earlier in the week with the chartreuse and there was some action with the Clousers and straight chartreuse Wooly Buggers, but in the long run those didn't produce a whole lot more than the Long Creeks, Smidges and Little Mo' Woolies we threw through the weekend!
Melissa and Dee had tried the Sycamore Run on their own on Thursday and did produce some action with both the Long Creek and the chartreuse Woolies. Did in fact land a couple of fish!
We started up at the Flat on Friday morning and there weren't a whole lot of people out, but the fish weren't showing themselves much either. We had a flash or two at the Chartreuse Woolies while reworking the casting a bit and developing some really solid roll strokes! The girls found out just how much bad information is out there on casting!
People are still teaching 10:00 to 2:00! Oh well...
At any rate, we headed down past the Sycamore Run and into the Pipeline stretch where we did at least find some fish working the shallows. They were only so congenial, but at least we had a hit and looks.
Melissa and Dee take their turn at the Pipeline! >>>>>
On down at the Pipeline and had some decent action with a few fish on and the place to ourselves! It was nice to have some fish spread out on the river so we could get away from any crowds already, but the fish were also happy to be left alone as well! We're kind of in the "you only get a few shots and they're done" mode right now... You'll have a flurry of action on one fly and then it seems they won't touch it again! Great short term memories?
We then moved on down to the Confluence Hole, but didn't do anything there, in fact we saw only one fish show itself! I was very disappointed in that as I had expected to see quite a few fish in there with the generation we have had.
By the way - two a day generation for the coming week days: 6:00 to 10:00 in the mornings and 6:00 to 10:00 in the evenings! Very nice and if we get some fresh fish in this week they'll really get to spread out!
But either fish just hadn't moved into the Confluence all that much yet or the ones that may have gotten in there vacated or have been taken out. That'll get better in the coming weeks, though!
On Saturday, Dee and Melissa got to fish the part of the Flat we didn't get to on Friday and there wee actually quite a few fish showing themselves in one of their favorite spots! We had decent action, relatively, there for a while with Smidges mostly! I did see one Light Cahill flying around still and Charlie Droddy said he had seen a couple as well. I guess there's always gonna be some stragglers!
<<<<< Dee releases one in The Flat...
By mid-day the Wall Hole had virtually gone quiet - both people-wise and, unfortunately, fish-wise! We actually got in to the top of the hole by ourselves only to find that the fish had kind of shut down anyway! We didn't get but one bump I believe! So we headed down to Hind's Bluff to see if the crowds there had cleared as well!
Wasn't too bad there and eventually we ended up at the bottom of the pool where fish were showing,but once again, they only showed us so much interest. A few hits, but only so much going on! It's been kind of a tough autumn for some reason.
We finished our day back up at the park where the water is considerably warmer than what's downstream! At Hind's Bluff it was 44°! Up in the park it's closer to the low 50's most of the time! It certainly felt warmer when you stepped in there after being thigh deep in the colder stuff for a while!
In the middle of The Flat we produced a few ore takes and a couple of bent rods with Smidges again. It was the one thing that produced solid takes on the day...
I finished up the afternoon working just a little bit with Charlie's wife Mary at the Meat Hole while Charlie and the kids observed for a bit from the bank. I tacked a Smidge on quickly and Mary had several hits and a couple of solid hook-ups in just a short while!
But then, just as much as they were hitting - they shut down just as much! Annoying if nothing else...
Tuesday - November 26
Holy Cow!!!! Winter moved in here these past few days, that's for certain!!!
Last Friday afternoon, Tania & Josh Ricciardone (Lafayette, LA) arrived to a cold rain and winter on the doorstep! The official high Friday was 63°, but I know that must have been in the early morning some time... By mid-day the wind was cranking up and it was in the 40's!
We managed to get some casting instruction in before we had had enough and it was getting late in the day! Josh and Tania brought all the cold weather gear they could muster up, but it wasn't quite enough to deal with the WWC! Wet-wind-chill!
We waited till late morning on Saturday to get in the river, but it really didn't matter. It was getting colder for the most part, the wind was really starting to howl. It was damp and drizzly and the temps were staying in the 30's! But we gave it a shot anyway.
Tania Ricciardonne lands her first trout on a fly at the Spectator Hole! >>>>>
There was mild success and the guys had some fish on at the Sycamore Run and Spectator Hole with Long Creeks. Tania did get her first trout on a fly at least in the first session!
We took a warm-up break and came back out after some lunch. We tried Hind's Bluff Access and had kind of tough going with a few takes and a couple of fish on in another weather shortened afternoon! Anyone who says it wasn't cold this weekend ain't from around these parts!!!
The fish we did get were fat and feisty, though! At least the water was still kind of warm to that point. It was running nicely, but substantially murky from the frequent rains we've had of late. For first timers, the fishing was a little challenging!
Sunday we gave it another go! At least there was a little sun out there for a little while, but we still finished the fishing with ice in the guides! The sky soon gave way to a high thin over-cast. It wasn't quite as "nice" as we thought it was going to be... But we did get into quite a few fish at the Pipeline, including one decent resident fish with nice colors mixed in with the fresh stockers. We've had two-a-day generation for the last couple of weeks and that has helped the fish spread out a bit!
I did check my air and water at one point. The water was right about 48°... Chilly, but not brutal. I looked at the air temp and told the guys: "You know why it feels so cold out here right now? Cause it's 38°!"
The WWC was just a tad lower than that... Which kind of explained the ice in the guides at that point...
But we were into enough fish to keep it interesting so we headed down the trail to the Pasture Pool (as much to warm up a bit), but all we could get out of there were a few Creek Chubs! I was a little surprised we didn't do more, though Josh did see something larger swim by. Guess we need so more substantial generation...
Tania and Josh hanging in there with ice in the guides! You know it's windy when there's that much chop on the surface at the very protected Pipeline!!! >>>>>
The only real problem with hiking downriver was that we were going to have to walk back into the wind! You could feel it for certain! I'd hate to think what it would have been like out at Riverside, River Ridge or the Factory Site!!! But it was worth the effort at least and we had some nice fish to show for it!
Monday was, uh, worse to say the least. Brutal to say the obvious. But Kevin Kelly (Friendswood, TX) had made the trip and by golly we were fishing! He had gotten here in time to fish a little bit Sunday afternoon and moved a few, but overnight we got into the freezing rain and that just kept coming all morning. We held off getting out there as long as we could and tried to do the afternoon.
We met at River Ridge and gave the "J-Ledge" pool some work which only produced one solid hit... As we made our way down to the Big Rock Hole the freezing drizzle continued. Thanks the heavens that the wind was done! Dead calm and the mist was rising off of the "warm" water! It was almost bearable - except for the wet hands. Of course we were both geared up clothing-wise for the temperatures, but there's just not much you can do for the hands!
At any rate, we did see a couple of fish working out in front of the new house that's being built near the Big Rock, but we tried several things to try and raise them. The only thing that they could be rising to right now would be midges, but I didn't see any, and they certainly seemed to be "midging rises" in the surface film... But they didn't want to play with a Smudge, Long Creek or Little Mo' Wooly!!!
We did finally bring up some action at the actual Hind's Bluff and Kevin managed a couple there with a Long Creek. We tried a little bit in the top of the Big Rock Hole, but we had been standing in the thigh deep water too long and the warmth of a vehicle and the warmer water closer to the dam seemed like a better move!
At Riverside I watched for several minutes only to see a handful of fish show themselves! I didn't like the looks of that. But we headed to the drop-off of the Wall Hole since we were the only nuts out there and stayed as shallow as we could. May as well throw where there's at least a concentration of fish!
We tried several flies once again. We went through the "usuals" and then started into the unusuals! Kevin had moved a couple of fish on Sunday evening with a Muddler so we tried that and he had a fish try to chase it down as he started a drag for a cast! That was it, though, for the Muddler...
He had a fly that had worked for him before, a fuzzy furry, white rabbit with mallard streamer and a big cone-head. He landed the fly on one cast and a fish swirled it right after the landing - but that was it for that one!
A near frozen Kevin Kelly displays one of the several fish with which we finished the day! Put that Chartreuse & White Clouser on your list of five flies you have to have in your box!!! >>>>>
All right... The last time Kevin was here, he had gotten a couple of Chartreuse & White Clousers from me for some attempts at some of the basses. I've caught quite a few nice trout with a C&W Clouser here, elsewhere and countless other species of fish with it too - so, "why not?" It was near the end of the day, getting dark - what the hell?
He got hammered on nearly the first cast! Then proceeded to get hit with great frequency and landed at least three in the next ten minutes or so! Hmmmm....
Kevin also reported that he had substantial action on the Clouser today too! Go figure? So I did a little figgurrin'!
We had tried all kinds of flies with every conceiveable retrieve. The C&W was the only thing the fish really tried to eat. We noticed that all the hook-ups were right in the top of the snout! That's feeding - even for fresh stockers. I'm actually beginning to believe this theory:
These fish have already seen scads of PowerBait thrown into the river, which has taste and smell. They try to eat it and it doubtless tastes pretty good to them. PowerBait is also generally fluorescent colors, such as - you guessed it - chartreuse, pink, yellow! The fish that don't get taken out or manage to eat some PowerBait without getting hooked are quickly learning that these nice colors may mean something tasty!
Hence the reason such regional flies as the "Pink Weenie", "Christmas Tree", assorted crappie jigs for example, produce a lot of fish! Is it too much to think that a lot of these fish think that these colors represent the "new" food source on their new environment? At least until they find more plentiful critters in the late winter? I think the PowerBait'ers have actually created a new "hatch" which the fish learn faster than anything because of the smell and taste they are getting!
I'm tying up some more C&W Clousers....
Ya'll ponder on that "morsel" for a bit and have a great Thanksgiving! My bride is here this year and we're going to have a nice week! The weather is also supposed to be awesome after tomorrow!
Wednesday - November 20
Busy few days on the river all of a sudden! The wife and I went to Houston last week to surprise her daughter at their opening game of the season. In the 20+ or so years that Angie has been coaching, Sandy has never been able to be a the first game of the season, so when we showed up at the gym that night it was pretty cool!
And after that it was back to trying to finish up all the work on the kitchen! We've been working on that the entire fall - for real!
But last Saturday I was able to get in the water when John Davis (Shreveport, LA) brought his daughter, Millicent, to the river to take advantage of one of my "eBay trips" he had. Good to see John and Ardis Peace out on the river again, but Millicent and I left all them to see about some casting and maybe get into some fish.
Millicent Davis did catch fish last Saturday! >>>>>
We headed into the Flat and got her throwing a line with a bit better comprehension of how that fly casting thing works! She was actually a little amazed at how the cast develops and the assorted causes and effects.
We did eventually get a fly in the water and had a little bit of action in the short session. The weather has been a bit of an issue the last few days with nothing bad, but a lot of variation throughout each day. It's the instability the fish don't like and Saturday was calm and very subdued. The fish weren't doing a whole heck of a lot...
But Millicent did get a few fish to hit - I think we were throwing a Smidge as I recall - and a couple of fish on before it was lunch time. So far, the majority of the fish the AGFC has brought in have been pretty decent. Fat and averaging about 11 inches I'd say. At least that's what I've seen to this point.
Monday, I hooked up with Judy & Johnny Thomas (Bossier City / Rocky Mount, LA) for their first trip to the Little Mo'! They'd been a bunch of other places including the White earlier this fall and they're just really getting started in fly fishing. So they got a little education on casting Monday afternoon and a little bit of fishing in. Once again, the fish weren't very happy...
They're out there, they're just confused, I think, but Judy and Johnny are planning to be here through Friday so we weren't working real hard to produce a lot. Mostly learning to cast properly and we were planning to get back together today anyway.
Judy Thomas gains control of a nice chunk at Hind's Bluff. Always so much fun trying to decide what to do with the rod at this point, eh ya'll? >>>>>
Yesterday (Tuesday) was a bit different, though! Brian Fowler of KTBS Channel 3 in Shreveport came to the river with director/camera guy Josh Hale to do a story on fly fishing with me!
We had a really great time but didn't produce much in the fish department. Unfortunately the guys couldn't leave until after their mid-day news so we didn't get out until late afternoon! Kind of cut in to the best part of the day for fishing as they had to get as much footage of what they needed to produce the segment.
So by the time we got serious about actually fishing we were running out of day anyway. But we did get a little bit of action for the tube! As mentioned we had a really good time and maybe that will come across when we see the finished production on cannel 3, probably in about ten days to two weeks. I will certainly let everyone know when it will be showing and then it will be on Channel 3's website after that!
<<<<< Johhny Thomas does battle with a really nice beefy fish under just about perfect conditions! That's just hard to beat for a Wednesday afternoon!!
Today, I got back out for a little bit with Judy and Johnny Thomas and we finally did get them a few nice fish at hind's Bluff! Apparently they didn't have much luck on their own yesterday. Today through the mid-day was much better weather conditions and we also had falling water too! We stirred up a decent number of fish on the falling water with both versions of the Little Mo' Wooly. Gary Sutherland was there too and got into fish almost immediately with the one he had just gotten from me as I walked by him!
Looks like we've been getting generation from about 6:00 to 9:00 AM this week, although when I met Judy and Johnny on Monday afternoon at Riverside at 2:30 the water was still falling! So without getting an updated schedule from SWEPCO as yet, just checking the Rivergages.com site we're getting the "two-a-days" like we had last week. And that's really good because it'll be moving a lot of fresh fish around instead of having them trapped at the stocking sites like they usually are in the fall!
Judy shows just about all you need to know! Trouting on a really great afternoon... >>>>>
Eric Anderson went around The Bend at Hind's Bluff this afternoon - I'll be curious to see what he found down there!
I did find some fish on Sunday around the Sycamore and Spectator Hole too. I would have gone further, but I was going to get back in to see the Saints game!
Don't be surprised if we see another load of fish this week, next week at least likely, I'd say. We've also got a cold and wet scenario for a few days too. Don't be surprised if it snows next week, too!!!
Friday - November 1
Well! Here we go!!!
A new season has officially begun! Fresh fish got into the river this past Wednesday, everywhere except Low Water, which of course, is where I looked for them yesterday and didn't see any... I had neglected to remember that they were not going to stock down there on the first round...
So there's a couple of thousand new fish in the river today and, yes, there are plenty more to come in the next few weeks!
I actually got out and fished a little this afternoon and spent my time up in the shallows of the Chute and the Triangle for the most part. There were quite a few resident fish up there just a feeding away and I managed to raise a few of them with a Smudge, an ADL, an R&A Light Cahill and a Griffith's Gnat! I think that's all I threw this afternoon... They all raised fish , but I had the best hits on the Smudge!
There are still some nice, healthy Resident fish left and I'd say I caught this one just about 4:00 PM!!! >>>>>
There were supposed to be a few hundred Browns on this load too, but I haven't seen or heard about any yet.Christy Graham had told me that they wee "holding" them this summer for here. Maybe that will mean they are nice sized at least. Hopefully they will stay in the river like they're supposed to as well.
So, that's what's happening right now! But many have asked "where have YOU been???"
It has been a very busy month, that's for certain! i had all kinds of tennis going on with the kids I teach both here in town and some from Nashville too. The Boro sent seven of our kids to District - one of which qualified for State! One of my girls from Nashville made it to the finals of District and lost in the second round at State! So there was a bunch of coaching and lessons going on there for a while!
By the time that was all done I was in Tyler playing in the USPTA National Hardcourts tournament where I was soundly thrashed by a couple of the best players in the country slightly closer to my age, but we didn't have 55's this year and I had to play in the 45's! The guy I played in the first match had been ranked as high as the mid 300's IN THE WORLD when he was on the tour!!!
I did actually get a game off of him...
So that was a couple of weeks ago and immediately following that I settled in to the last of the Diamond Festival prep and actual event last weekend. Some of you may recall that I do the entertainment and sound for that, but this was the first time we've tried it in the fall! Would have been great IF it hadn't rained pretty much all day Saturday when it was supposed to be a 20% chance... Of course, even with the cool weather it still takes me a day or so to recover form all that. Very physical jumping up onto and off of a stage countless times in a day!
So this week, I've been trying to catch up with the fly orders that came in recently (they all went out by the way... except Al's - got to get the stuff Al). Between the bad eyes and a bit of a sore back from the weekend, the tying isn't going very fast ya'll, so if you have an order in mind, get it in as quick as you can! It's looks like it's going to take me longer to do things unless I can get the cataracts taken care of sooner than later. I just can't look into a bright light and see much right now, which is making really hard to tie and look across the water! Damn!!!
However, the diabetes thing is well under control. Numbers have been excellent over the last couple of months and I've lost right at 20 pounds already! Just from eating good!
We had kind of a mild turn-out for the Wall Hole Gathering I'm afraid, pretty much due to various conflicts, not to mention the threatening weather. I looked at the rain history for October and ir rained on just five days in the month! One was on the Wall Hole Gathering and another on the Diamond Festival! Sheeesh....
Starting to re-tool the brain, now, for FISHING! Ya'll get on out - the freshies are out there!!!
Wednesday - October 2
Well, getting closer and closer to a new season! Has it really been a month since I put up a Latest??? Amazing, and sad!
It's been kind of busy on the river, though, mixed in with all the events and tennis! Of course this is the toughest time of year for getting into fish on the river, but the fish you get are going to be serious! I suspect more fish are broken off in August and September per hook-up than the entire rest of the year!
Waaay back on the 17th, Jeremy Tanner made it over from Oklahoma City to give these fish a shot.
That happened to be the one day that week that we didn't have high water almost all day! In fact they ran no water that Tuesday and we got to spend plenty of time being humbled... The conditions as I recall weren't all that great. Pretty calm and warm. Difficult, but we did get a little breeze here and there and it paid off with a few fish on.
<<<<< Jeremy shows off a typical September fish on The Flat!
We tried some Hoppers and Light Cahills and had equal interest, all be it somewhat minimal... But it was just enough to keep Jeremy going long enough to get this nice fish in hand!
That weekend, Jim & Mary Renda (Thorndale, TX) came up for a break from their world and a little fishing. Conditions were much better after the storms that had settled in the previous day.
Much cooler over the weekend and nicer conditions! Makes for a bit more action. Unfortunately there was an actual crowd at the Park that day! Had the fish really spooked for a while. But it didn't take long for the dozen or so "anglers" who thought they could get away with just about anything to give it up and leave! Before we knew it we pretty much had the Flat to ourselves by late morning!
Jim Renda had his efforts rewarded! >>>>>
As I typically tell folks, try to avoid Saturday mornings if you can...
At any rate, we got to watch a bunch of fish for a while after that, and talked several into playing! We started to do better with smaller A&W's fished kind of quick! It is getting to be Light Cahill time after all! More and more of them showing up day by day!
In fact, recent days have seen decent hatches!
The fewer hours of generation this week will allow for some better dry activity to come. Not looking forward to the end of the Catch & Release season though... And that's just a couple of weeks away now! hard to believe!
Anyway, Jim & Mary had their shots - it's just a matter of how those critters are going to hit a fly. But you can bet every time the wind cranks up for real, you're going to get hits! It just makes all the difference in the world.
The next Tuesday (the 24th), the weather wasn't so nice for Mike Roberts (Shreveport, LA). Just about dead calm and lots of sun!
Mike takes advantage of the breezes we did get and hooks up! Notice there's just a little chop on the water at the time! >>>>>
Didn't bode well for us... But it was a nice morning to start, we just didn't see much in fish! We tried down at the Sycamore Run and even a little below that and didn't turn up much, apart from a really nice full blooded bluegill 'bout as big as my hand! We headed back up to the Park eventually and chased a few...
That's when Ray Bender of Hot Springs asked me about the fish kill back in July!!!! I didn't know anything about it. Apparently Ray must have been the only one to see it... But he reported that there were a lot of stressed and dead fish both at Riverside and River Ridge. He said it was during the week after the 4th of July and he spends as much time on the river as just about anyone.
<<<<< Mike didn't have a lot of action on the 24th, but this nice 14-15 incher definitely made up for it!
It would appear that it had been a one day event, I was out there on that Saturday and then the following Tuesday and saw no signs of such. High water would have washed them away quickly. I suspect there was a serious Cinnamon Ant hatch which is likely to happen in mid-summer, particularly after heavy rains. Couple that with a couple of days of no generation and you've got a problem!
In our case, such an event can make a huge dent in our fish population! I've seen dozens of fish go belly-up after ant hatches in the past! Unfortunately trout just love to eat ants... Not much we can do about that!
So that explains, even more, my feeling that we didn't have as many fish in the river in recent weeks. If you fished only in the Wall Hole you might have felt differently, but I could tell the difference!
Any time you guys experience anything like that do let me or the AGFC Trout folks know about it!
Last week, John & Linda Damanda came over from around Denton. TX to see about learning a bit about this stuff!
We worked really hard for only so much action I'm afraid. Actually one of the worst days I've seen on the river this year, I hate to say!
Linda Damanda lays out a decent roll on The Flat last Friday... >>>>>
Stripping A&W's was getting decent interest, but the hook-ups were few and very far between... However, just about the time it was getting close to calling it a day, Linda had a wake up call when a really nice fish ran off with her fly in only a couple of moments! fast and furious for about four seconds! nice fish, that I fear she just wasn't prepared for. Happens a lot!
Finally, yesterday, Bill James (Hot Springs, AR) made use of a gift trip and we had nice overcast most all of the morning, but it was dead calm again and the river has been a little low in recent days. We did have some happier fish under the cloud cover though and a reasonable amount of action on A&W's again.
Couple of nice fish on and one that surprised the heck out of Bill which was probably in the 14 inch class. Another one of those fast releases and a new fly situation... We did have lot's of follows and takes though as we fished the A&W both wet and dry! It was equally effective either way I think.
Bill James enjoys some cloud cover and subsequent decent fishing! >>>>>
In the meantime, Bill was learning a bunch of new tricks! Casting was at a premium yesterday and by the end of the session, Bill was really starting to click. And it paid off with relatively regular takes on his best casts! It do make a difference!!!
We worked our way around just a small portion of the Flat and there were fish milling about in the shallows a lot more than they have in the full sun of the recent weeks! I'll be so glad to see a nice cool, cloudy, windy day for a change! About 65° and some drizzle will suit me just fine!
You'll know where to find me!
<<<<< Bill hefts his first fish of the day - nice healthy resident.
However, my current schedule is going to keep me off of the river more than on in the next couple of weeks! Heading to the Port for some more house doings, we've got the Wall Hole Gathering on the 12th, then to my now annual USPTA tennis tournament in Tyler and the week of the 25th I'll be getting wrapped up with our Diamond festival here in town!
And then - sheeesh - October will be just about gone! And it will be time for a new season to get started! Ya'll start getting your fly orders together for this fall!!!
Tuesday - September 3
Oh my, oh my...
Ya'll probably think I've dropped off the face of the earth! Well, just about!
There was fishing going on in August! Wouldn't know it by the reports, but I did have some people come out here and there, but between running around, teaching a bunch of tennis, getting used to new glasses (no cataract surgery yet, JimR), painting around the house, being diagnosed as Type II diabetic, and now with my old car in the shop in Shreveport (where I am now) - it's been a hell of a month!
I just haven't been able to sit down or taken the time to sit down and report everything!!!
At any rate, The Hartline (Shreveport) family came to fish, early in the month, as did Steve & Sandra Maxey (Carthage, TX). All first time fly fishers and the fish were not kind, as they typically are this time of year. We did raise some and see plenty on the move, but as I recall there simply wasn't a lot of catching going on! Not surprising... It is such an in-between time for the hatches and if you don't get any wind you're just not going to get a lots of takes - even with the right fly!
Still, it can be fun and educational just to be able to watch the fish and what they're up to... And they will get their daily routines going once the weekly generation pattern gets established. You could see that by mid week, they would start to move based on how close it was to generation time.
Back on the 17th we had a little better luck when Blake Carter (Texarkana, TX) returned for a birthday trip. His dad asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday and the answer was pretty quick - come back to the Little Mo'!!!
Blake has nearly mastered casting already, tying most all his flies and just having a blast with fly fishing! He's still just a tad shorter than me, but the highlight of the day was one fish on early that leaped as high as MY head, so Blake was looking up at it! He excitedly remarked that he'd never seen anything like that and everything after that 14 incher four feet up into the air was a little anti-climactic afTer that!
Blake shows off one of the better fish of the month! 14 inchers are not uncommon this time of year! And the water has been gorgeous!!! >>>>>
But we did have a decent day with about 5 or 6 fish actually landed before the high water ran us off... That was back when we had that cool front come through and we couldn't have had better conditions for the middle of August! Just checking and it was that morning that we had 56° and a high of only 85° with north winds!!! Oh, they were hap-hap-happy that day!
Obviously, that didn't last though and it's been brutal ever since!
"Gumbo" Bill Hathorn (Alexandria, LA) returned and he brought his buddy, Chance Hickman with him! Hadn't seen Bill in quite a while, so that was great, and he wanted to get Chance started on a good track. There was the initial learning plan as usual and then it was a matter of putting flies in front of fish!
That was happening regularly enough, but as usual the fish were only going to cooperate so much for the first timer! It's tough when you're dealing with educated fish and you're still trying to figure out what you're doing yourself!
But, it's not impossible! There usually is some success and we rarely get completely skunked. And Chance did manage some fish on, just not many landed - that seems to be a recurring theme, doesn't it? Getting a fish to take is only half the battle after all!
<<<<< Chance Hickman gets his first trout on a fly in hand before heading back to Boston College!!! There's going to be a change of scenery and culture!
We were still using Griffith's Gnats and even some Hoppers at this point and getting a reasonable amount of interest. The Light Cahills will really be coming on in the next few weeks though, and that will likely become the more oft used pattern through October!
It was a pretty calm day though, with the water continuing to become more and more bathtub clear - the 6X fluorocarbon tippets could be getting marginal! Are we going to have to go to 7X or smaller??? Brutal!
Generation schedules had been increasing in duration the last couple of weeks, though this week they've backed off a bit. We started getting generation cranked up at 11 AM instead of in the afternoons as it had been most of the summer week days. Made it a little tougher to get in fishing while the winds was getting to its best at late morning...
Last Wednesday and Thursday, Harvey Barney came up from (Conroe, TX ) to try his hand! We got on the water early on both days and saw a reasonable amount of activity before the sun got on the water.
Of course, the most likely midge that the fish were feeding on were the same "No-See-Ums" that were feeding on us! Make sure you have some bug stuff on the under-sides of your arms and the back of your legs because that's where they're heading!!! At least until the sun hit them - then they're off to the shadows!
Harvey Barney did produce some fish on both of these tough days and we have evidence! >>>>>
Harvey is a more experienced fly fisher and that certainly does pay off at this time of year! But first we had to find fish and then see what midge they wanted to eat early in the day.
We thought we'd try way up around The Chute first but that was the wrong tree and we didn't see fish in any concentration until we got down to the bottom of the Triangle. And there we found enough fish to keep Harvey busy for a while with a Grizzly Midge that seemed to be the most interesting to them at the time. There sure didn't want a Sulphur!!!
<<<<< A peek over Harvey's shoulder at just the right moment! Makes the whole effort worthwhile. Not to mention that the air temperature on the river was just 78° while the high that afternoon was 103°!!!
We had a little luck with a Light Cahill and a Hopper as well, but it was very quiet conditions last week as the temps were heading for the mid 100's each day! With the water running us off at 11:00, as I mentioned, we didn't get to fish the windiest time of day. In fact we were just starting to get hints of it both mornings just as the water arrived...
But despite the tougher conditions we still managed a handful of fish on and a couple in. Just not the best days of the year, that's all...
Thursday morning was about the same, though we did see more fish on the move by mid-morning. Unfortunately most of them saw us too... But some of the fish we got a look at and even a few takes on ADL's and Smudge's were really nice fish - 14" and probably above! Maybe, when we start getting a little more cloud cover on these September days, we'll start seeing more of those guys showing themselves!
On Friday, Mike Roberts (Shreveport, LA) returned after a long absence from the river! Right at a year since his last visit and he needed it bad apparently!
Mike prepares to get his hands on his first trout in a long time! Nice shadows and some fog still over the slick waters. I suspect he felt better by 10 AM! >>>>>
Unfortunately, conditions Friday were even worse than the rest of the week! But we prevailed and actually Mike had already had one on just before I got there, with what looked to be a Pale Morning Dun of all things! You just never know what a fish is liable to take, so try all kinds of things!
He did get a few more rises up around the Trough with that too. Eventually we went to try an R&A Light Cahill and Parachute Hopper and kind of produced the usual results... Nothing in particular doing a whole lot more than anything else at this point...
"Irish" Mac McClanahan likes Cracklebacks, so try that too! (But you didn't hear that form me...)
Apart from the "No-See-Ums" early in the day, the hardest part of fishing early is not being able to see into the water and, consequently, not being able to see the fish in the shallows. There were quite a few casts that created a push of water heading away from the fly... Ya'll remember to keep your casts short!
naturally just as the water began to make us move towards the bank, Mike tagged a really nice one and we had to walk it out a bit until we felt safe enough to stop and release it, and then head for high ground! One of my best fish I ever landed was at Bull Shoals C&R area with four generators starting to push water through! I did make it to the correct bank in time and did land the 24 incher!
It certainly was exciting, but not necessarily the type of excitement I look for!
Generation this week from Noon to 8:00 PM so forget about Prime Time until Saturday and Sunday, but at least you can fish that good hour at mid-day! Well, ya'll might, I don't know when I'll get back up!
I'll be in Shreveport, for sure, next Tuesday for the North Louisiana Fly Fishers meeting at the new Red River Wildlife Refuge at the bottom of Tegaue Parkway (Bossier City). Talk a little about the late summer / early fall fishing on the river, maybe tie some flies, do some casting. As I mention for my tying workshops, the first question asked is the first one answered and usually dictates where things go from there!
Then next weekend it's back to Little Rock for the third time to help teach the fly fishing and tying aspects at the AGFC's Becoming an Outdoors Woman event! This thing is just huge and there's a waiting list for ladies to participate!
Then, before you know it, September will be just about gone! But it is one of the nice months to fish - hardly anyone around, lots of really healthy fish to throw at (at least) and the Light Cahill hatch will be in full swing! Not to mention some cooler nights and wonderful mornings! Ya'll come see me! I've got a car to pay for and a diet to support...
Saturday - August 3
Another busy, busy week! On the water, off the water, on the courts (about three hours every evening this week!), back on the water, back to the courts!!!
And it hasn't exactly been comfortable around here, either! In fact quite oppressive for this locale! But we did get on the rover and find some fish! On Wednesday, Ryan and son Gage Piper (Wichita Falls, TX) made it over this way for a side trip to Hot Springs!
Gage and Ryan Piper doing their level best on Wednesday! Well done with the rod tips ya'll! >>>>>
It was Ryan, who hadn't fished a whole lot of any sort apparently who had the better day on this occasion! Gage has been casting and starting to tie his own already! He was making some very nice deliveries and getting takes and boils from the cruising fish, but it was dad who managed to land the fish for both of them!
There weren't any side bets or anything like that out there either...
We did most of the work with Smudge's again and had decent action though the fish didn't seem real happy with the full sun we've been getting since all the storms of last week! Really putting them off, particularly when the wind isn't there... But you can almost expect the hits once the chop is up, whatever you are throwing!
<<<<< Some measure of success for Ryan - really nice fish though!
The key is to get the fly in front of the cruising squadrons before they see the line. If you're throwing the "tiny tinies", you really need to see the fly hit the water and have a very good idea of where it is! Then keep an eye on the group to see if there's the slightest bit of reaction! A lot of takes go unseen, I fear!
Alas, it was a "beginners luck" day for Ryan though Gage got to tighten up on a couple and get a rod bent here and there!
Unfortunately, for Gordon "Coat-tails" Spencer (NW ARK...) the fish were even more brutal on Thursday! A lot of looks and a few hits at the Smudge, Griffith's Gnats, R&A Light Cahills and a Parachute Hopper again!
There was interest in all of these, but only one fish actually hooked up on the day up around Copperhead Crossing...
Ryan gets control of another one! >>>>>
And speaking of "no-shoulders", we witnessed one of the more extraordinary events we've seen out there! A trout appeared to blow up on something top-water, but looked like it had hurt itself! Until we saw the under side of hopefully just a water snake - because it was a good four or five feet long!!!
The struggle went on for quite a few minutes until the trout and the snake finally disappeared into the tall grasses! Kind of un-nerving a little bit, actually, even for one who's seen plenty enough snakes out there. It is kind of odd that I haven't seen a whole lot of them this year though. In fact, I think this was the only the second one I've seen all year!
<<<<< Dylan Courts sends a Griffith's into a prime cruising lane!
Gordon always has fun one way or another though and we did get to analyze what it took to throw his new cane rod. A very VERY slow rod in this case! We also had plenty to say to the fish we did see and particularly the ones that took a shot here and there, but refused to hook up! We did seem to have the most fun with the Parachute Hopper on the day. That's always interesting!
Yesterday, the Courts family (Koonce, TX), Bridgette and Brandon with young Dylan and Danielle, made a short visit to try a little fly fishing for the first time! It was a quick event as they were on a bit of a time constraint, so we could only get in so much. I think this was a "let's see what it's like" attempt!
We were working Griffith's Gnats slowly, both on top and under, and the guys were enjoying watching the fish take some looks, but they were being difficult, as usual. And with the short session, the odds were in the fish's favor...
Brandon and Danielle patiently working the Flat for the short time they had on the "cool" river! To the south Texans, it was frigid - at first! >>>>>
I did hear the slosh of a fish at one point and looked up to see Brandon trying to handle a fish on while Danielle was draped around his shoulder! That was a unique occurrence and I sure wish I had a picture of that one! It was worth coming out for!
Of course the fish were up to their usual running around and Dylan and Brandon certainly got to see a bunch - right there in front of them... Rather annoying actually. But, at this time of year it's tough to be effective on your first time out and four folks putting limes on the water. We're going to try that again tomorrow. Maybe we'll get some cloud cover...
After the Courts headed back to De Gray, though, I stepped out to check into a theory I had. I was rewarded with about eight fish in hand in about half an hour! My suspicions were well founded, but it's kind of a one man situation. Also for the guide to know and ya'll to find out!!!
Monday - July 29
Wow!!! Where did this month go??? The summer is half gone already! But that also means the fall fishing is that much closer...
In the meantime, it's about time for some news, eh? In between projects back at the homestead and teaching a lot of tennis lessons lately, there has been some really nice fishing!
As is typical, I tend to stay away from the river on holiday weekends like the 4th of July and Labor Day most times. But after that I met with Eric Anderson (Shreveport, LA) and did a little work with his wife and daughter, Paula and Shannon, respectively for Paula's first time out and a return for Shannon! I've got this great picture of Shannon from her first trip here back in November of 2008! That's too cool!!!
Shannon back in 2008!!! >>>>>
At any rate, after some refresher for her, and getting Paula into the game, we got into a few fish. It was getting to be a typical summer day. But pretty calm and tough conditions as I recall. Man, that was too far back! But there were some fish on and a bunch on the move, but being typically spooky for a bright sunny day!
I think we were working Smidge's at the time and they had been pretty productive for much of the summer! Saw Garey Perkins yesterday, though, and he was still getting a number of fish on Wooly Buggers!!! But more on yesterday later...
<<<<< And Shannon now with another nice fish!!
There were quite a few fish on, but they have no intention of hanging around once hooked up this summer! The fish are generally big-time strong and very fast, most of the time! There's been a bunch of sudden releases in recent weeks while fish were heading the other way at top speed! Great fun!
With the water crystal clear as it was (the lake has been very stable until this week) you just can't let the fish get a good look at your fly! They can get off of it in an instant! They'll follow and follow and you'll have your leader up to the rod tip before they make a decision sometimes, one way or another... Most annoying!
Still, the fish you do get on are a ton of fun! You're simply not going to experience the non-stop "fish on" type stuff you're going to see in February or March, but there's just enough action to keep you from giving up! And when you get to have one of those little squadrons of five or six - or 15 - come sliding by, the flurry of activity will keep you going another half hour!
Just another average fish for Shannon! Wide bodied and strong!!! >>>>>
The girls were obviously having a good time, though there weren't a lot of fish landed on the day. It's simply a tough go for the "less experienced" angler, but you're going to see enough to make it interesting!
That evening Jim Foster (Magnolia, AR) came out for some falling water fishing and what we hoped would be a nice Prime Time!
We got in at the Triangle while the water was still about a foot or more above minimum and we were into fish almost immediately. Of course, that was Smidge time and I think we stayed with that the rest of the evening.
Seems like we had a bit of a lull after the initial activity of the falling water and, of course, there's not much going on at this time as far as significant mayfly action. We are in-between hatches, the March Browns are pretty much done and the Light Cahills haven't gotten started yet.
Jim Foster releases a nice Prime Time fish up around the Triangle on falling water! >>>>>
But the fish still "expect" something to be going on in the evenings so they will continue to feed like there should be bugs up there.
We did see a few mayflies hovering on schedule, but not the thousands that you'll see, say in March and April or September and October!
Later in the week, Steve Perry (Bastrop, LA) made it up with his sister Linda Hampton (Texarkana, AR) for their first attempt at fly fishing and we had a kind of difficult day with the fish. They weren't playing very nice and we worked hard for a handful of hits despite the nice weather! We had fish on, but not much landed!
I really thought with the conditions of the day we would have had more luck, it was kind of one of those days the fish should have been quite happy with, but they simply weren't in the mood to be very helpful...
Steve Perry enjoys his big fish in the crystal clear water of the Wall Hole! >>>>>
Seemed like they weren't even on their usual prowl patterns either. Just one of those days that makes us scratch our heads bald every now and then. After 40+ years of hanging around here, many of yo may have noticed the bare skin area on my head!!!
Any way, after a difficult morning we made our way down into the Wall Hole, for a change, at mid-day and the one fish that was landed by Steve made the whole day. A really heavy 16 incher (maybe more) that gave Steve just about everything he could have wanted! Just a beautiful fish and strong, strong, strong!!!
<<<<< Steve shows off his "fish of the day" if not the fish of the week! Look close and take note how far into the water the tail reaches! Now look at your hand in the same position and Steve's kind of a big guy!
Actually the average fish lately has been closer to 13-14 inches rather than 10 or 11! And, again, they are all heavy, wide bodies! You will remember any fish you get a hold of right now!
On the 15th, Jason Brannon brought his son Zane up from Texas for their first fly fishing on the Little Mo'! They got their share of the typical treatment too from our summer fish, but there was some level of success with quite a few fish on and some great action! Lots of fish were moving about in the clear water as usual and I still think that's half the fun!
But getting a handful of really nice fish on sure makes for a good outing. We're starting to get into the "smallish" time of year as far as bugs go. Griffith's Gnats, Smudge's, my ADL Midge and little critters of that nature are becoming more the norm right now... Newish fly fishers are always a bit surprised at what these fish will eat! "Smallish" that is...
But what a great shot, if I do say so myself, of one of Zane's fish on! They are such hard fighting fish and Zane found out the hard way that you cannot try to stop or turn these guys until they're good and ready!
Eventually, everybody comes to that realization after a few LDR's and break-offs!
Zane Brannon gets off to a good start with a rambunctious fish in the shallows! >>>>>
Finally, after a bunch of days off of the river, Saturday I got out there myself for some fishing! I had planned to do that Friday evening for Prime Time, but the storms played a little part in my decision to not get blown up by lightning!!!
While I was gone painting bathrooms, there were storms on Tuesday that dropped a little more than an inch here, but Friday it rained virtually all day with the clincher moving in just about the time they were shutting down the generation. Officially we had 3.36 inches Friday!!! The signs of that were evident at Riverside and the river itself.
<<<<< Dad, Jason Brannon, was not going to be outdone however...
The stream bottom was tan with sandy run-off even though the water had cleared up at the park already. Word was that River Ridge was still pretty muddy, though. There was still water coming in from the little feeders up and down the river. The debris piles on the ground up around the parking were significant and there were even piles of debris on the largest boulders about a foot above normal flow levels!
There was definitely a lot of stuff moving around Friday night! The lake has come up two feet since Tuesday to 547.38' which is going to allow for regular generation for a while, but nothing extraordinary.
Jim Roat showed up just about the time I did and we visited for quite a bit - hadn't seen him in a while! All the time we were watching for evidence of fish, which wasn't much... But I told him "just because they're not showing themselves, doesn't mean they're not there!"
<<<<< Jim Roat tries to contain the big fish of the day. I nearly had to dodge this one where I was standing, I just knew it was going to head between my feet!
Once we settled into fishing we started seeing them and the first fish on had a surprise for me! Frequently, when fish release themselves they'll send your fly back at you making use of the loaded rod in your hands! Well this was a nice fish right off the bat and it was heading upstream towards Jim when he sent the Smudge that I had on right back into my ear!!!
I tried to dodge it, but despite my broad-rimmed hat and quick reflexes i could feel that thing stick in the ear! Fortunately the momentum had just about died out and the #16 was indeed very barbless and I pulled it right out myself with no problem!
Take note folks! That's why you always fish barbless hooks!
Back to fishing and some really nice action throughout the rest of the mid-day hours! Jim and I both landed several fish in the 14 inch class and Jim measured one just short of 15! He was going to start off with a Smidge, but I suggsted a Griffith's Gnat instead and he had plenty of action with that on the breezy, very comfortable day! Just awesome conditions and a lot of activity!
And finally gets the big fish into his "No LIe" net! One of those with the measuring tape in the mesh! >>>>>
I fished the Smudge for most of the day, but when Jim removed a grasshopper from his leg and let it drift off only to be attacked by several fish, none of which seemed to be able to actually eat it, I said "why not!"
I was re-tying some tippet anyway, and went ahead and pulled out a Parachute Hopper and proceeded to have it hammered by several fish during the occasional flurry of action! Some of the fish were a little confused by the bug, but most of them showed what we called "significant" interest!
And as I mentioned earlier, Garey Perkins was having some regular action with his Wooly Bugger! Go figure... Try several flies when you come out next time and see what happens!!!
Generation this week is good again and it should flush the sand out of the stream bed! 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM Monday through Friday with nothing on the weekend. Just enough time in the evening to get in some good fishing!
Whew! That's the "Latest" from around here. I hope it doesn't take me so long to get a report up again!!!
Always On The Water - Jeff
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