Friday, May 31, 2013

Carping In The Morning, Man Craft III At Night

I woke up Thursday morning at 3am and for whatever reason I could not get back to sleep. As I tried and tried to fall back to sleep I laid there in bed watching the sunrise around 5am.  By 6am I was fed up and packed the Rover with my carp gear and headed out to the local trash water.  I thought about packing the waders but I was too lazy to get it out and just took my wellingtons.  I later regretted that when I arrived at the water.  Water is high and muddy which is surprising for this time of year and since we are in a drought. Where the hell is all this water coming from?  With all this water it was going to be a pointless endeavor without my waders.  The water is up to the tules and on the far bank the vegetation is overgrown.  Despite that I managed to cross the river to the far bank as it would be my best shot at a fish.  The fish must be spawning as there was a lot of ruckus coming from the tules and there was a lot of fish along the bank rolling around.  I did manage to finally hook up on one that ran me around until I got too cute and popped the fly out of its mouth from pinching the line too tight with my trigger finger.  I got out of there about 8:30 when I realized it was pointless.
Later in the night one of our local forums which is moderated one of the members of The Calico Syndicate hosted a fly tying night, Man Craft Night III.   It was great fun and good to see some familiar faces and meet some guys I only knew by their forum handle.  We were also rewarded with a 17 minute teaser for their upcoming DVD towards the end of the night. The movie was supposed to be out already but has been delayed but when it comes out I plan on picking it up.  I did manage to tie a few shad patterns for Perris on Saturday. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Decade Long Wait To Return- Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is an affluent gated community located in Riverside County. Since high school I have had access to this lake as one of my best childhood friends has a residence here. Back in college when I started fly fishing it was here I cut my teeth fishing for bass on the fly. Also I believe it was here I caught some of my first species on the fly. Throughout the first part of this century I fished quite a bit as my buddy would come to his home here several times a year inviting me almost every time. In 2004 or so he stopped coming here regularly as work and family obligations took more of his time. That was the last time I fished here until today my new buddy Luc who invited me to fish.  All it cost me were a few flies which I was more than happy to give away.

I met Luc at 5am at his house. We loaded his boat with my gear and headed to the launch ramp. Saturday there was a bass tournament so Luc was preparing me for a tough day. Topwater was first on the agenda. Luc likes fishing big flies and he started with a 10 weight and a big hard bodied popper. Armed with my 8 weight XP, I started with a hard bodied frog pattern that Luc suggested. It proved to big for my rod and later switched to a diver Luc suggested. After a few drifts past several banks it too proved to cumbersome for the 8 weight so I moved to Webb's Folded Foamhead. Several hours past without any takes.
Luc gets the skunk off the boat with a topwater take
Luc finally managed a topwater rise. It was a 2 or 2.5 pound bass. Finally the skunk was off the boat. Now with the sun out in full force we moved to subsurface presentations.  Hours past and I was constantly changing flies looking for the right presentation.

It took what seemed like eternity to get any bites. I kept missing fish. Luc was shocked that we were having such a hard time. Each cove, according to him, should have produced at least one bass many times more. I told him my bad luck just rubbed off on him and he shouldn't have invited me.   He just laughed it off but I was serious. Its not been my week. We were fishing some deep areas so I borrowed one for his rigs.  A 7 weight Sage RPL+  with a Airflow Depthfinder fast sinking line and his favorite fly an unweighted olive woolly bugger.  Luc likes fishing unweighted flies and letting the line take the fly down.
An average Canyon Lake bass 3 pounds.
I must have switched flies more than a dozen times.  As we started moving toward the shallower portion of the lake and a deep sinking line was not needed I moved from one side of the boat to the other.  In the process, with all the line stripped to the floor, I tangled Luc's line badly.  I spent the next 30 minutes or so trying to untangle the line.  Luc told me to just forget it and fish my other rig.  Not knowing Luc well enough, I didn't want to leave it for him to fix.  Eventually I just gave up and left it in frustration.  I picked up my favorite 5 weight and tried several flies before tying my Fugly S.O.B. in purple.  Soon enough I was on.  My first bass was a 3 pounder.  Luc let me know this is about an average fish here.  Back in my day, I would have given my left nut for a 3 pounder.  Ten years ago or so my personal best was maybe one and half.  Of course then I was just an novice/intermediate fly fisherman but I never saw a bass like that here.  If this is the average the lake has definitely gotten better from when I was fishing it.  It must be the fact that shad is everywhere.  You can see them swimming and Luc was showing me how to read his fish finder and sure enough they were everywhere.
A nice Canyon Lake representative.
Despite being a private access lake, these bass are heavily pressured.  There is a bass tournament every other week.  So fishing can be tough like any public lake.  But the bass here are special, unlike most of public bass, these bass do not lay up once they are caught.  Canyon Lake bass seem to give more runs than headshakes.  They have no quit in them.  Takes were slight grabs and many times I thought I was hung up rather than on a fish.  I managed another equal size bass casting at the opposite side of a dock I caught the last fish this time on the way out of the cove we were fishing.
My first Catfish on a fly
Earlier in the day Luc had mentioned if I casted and fished in particular areas I'd likely hook up on a catfish.  Sure enough toward the end of the day I hooked up.  Initially I thought it was a bass.  It felt like a bass with multiple headshakes but when I got him up in the top layer I noticed it was no bass but a catfish.  My first on a fly just like Luc told me earlier.  This guy was about 3 pounds and quite a good time on my medium flex 5 weight.
Taking flight.
This area is loaded with fish, mostly shad with crappie and bass mixed in.
I had an absolutely great time despite what Luc called disappointing.  No matter, I have a special place in my heart for this lake as it was where my fly fishing path started.  Fishing today brought back a lot of fond memories some of which I shared with Luc.  One story was back in those days, the lakehouse was party central for my buddies and since most of us were either just out of college or in college most of them came just to drink and party.  I didn't care for that I came for the fishing and one of the rules of the house, my buddy set, was to prove your party animal status was you couldn't go to sleep until I woke up to go fishing at 5 or 6 in the morning.  Only then would you have proven your worth.  I remember numerous times fishing on my buddy's dock looking up after hearing the sliding door open only to see one of my buddies leaning over the balcony puking his guts out.  Good times.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Not My Day-Perris Lake

Saturday 5/18/13

Not my day.  Actually not my week.  I got a virus on my laptop, my new laptop.  I'm writing this report on my old laptop that is from the telegraph era.  I was sick the night before.  I was owed some good karma.  well that didn't happen.  The original plan to fish Prado was scraped when we arrived at the gate at 6am to see that they did not open until 7:30.  So we decided to drive the 40 minutes to Perris instead.  Don't get me wrong I'd rather fish Perros than Prado anyday but since I did not intend on fishing it, I was not quite prepared.  Also when we arrived and started making our way to the fishing area the battery on the fish finder died.  Great, no fishing finder and I left the coutour map of Perris at home.  We were going to have to do this the old school way.  Not to mention the trolling motor is now on its last leg and since we intended to fish Prado Chul didn't even bother recharging the battery since our last outing.  Winds were picking up too.  We were moving at a snail's pace.  I missed every single bass today whether it was top water or subsurface.  Every single one.  At least eight or more.  It was ridulous.  Chul managed three to hand all on topwater and lost a handful.  I came home wreaking of the skunk.  It's actual not my week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ridiculously Expensive Nippers

Orvis Labeled Abel Nippers
Thanks to my bud Chul, I get his Orvis coupons whenever he doesn't want to use them.  I'm still bitter that I don't get any of these despite being a customer of Orvis longer than him and have spent more than him over the past decade.  Personally I don't really care for Orvis but at times there are items that they carry I do want.  I used the coupon on a pair of Orvis labeled Abel nippers which arrived today.  At a MSRP of $50 this is one expensive pair of line cutters.  With the $25 off coupon it was cut in half.
A look at the hook eye cleaner.
I'm not sure how I feel about buying a $50 pair of nippers.  I clearly have no problem paying for quality as long as they are quality.  These cutters are saltwater resistant which is what I needed since these will be on my saltwater/bass Abel tackle bag.  My old Tiemco ceramic nippers have lost their edge so I need a new pair.  Most "cheap" nippers are not saltwater worthy and since those TMC ceramics are no longer imported to the US so I looked for an alternative.  With the discount I figured I'd try these Abels.
Is this what to expect from Abel's quality control?
We'll see if they are worth the $25 I spent.  I know they are not worth the $50 price tag.  I was instantly disappointed to see that the screw that holds the two sides together was already stripped.  What kind of quality control is going on at Abel to let that through?  Well I'm not surprised since Abel is now owned by one of Bernie Madoff's offspring.   I guess the family legacy of screwing people over continues.  What fucking monkey at Abel couldn't reach for the appropriate sized screwdriver to do the work right?  For a high-end product I expect more.  I guess I'm spoiled since I buy fine guns and expect more from people who charge a high price.  And before you start with the "you can send it back" nonsense- no, I shouldn't have to, I should get products that aren't damaged.  You can also see that the anodizing is scratched near the upper left edge of the screw hole.  I already didn't care for Abel, the QC of this product now just reinforces my opinion.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Slow Day At The Bay

We launched to pram way too late this morning and only caught the tail end of the incoming tidal swing.  It as was after 10am before we even got our lines wet.  It was about 30 minutes before Chul managed his first and only fish on his new Winston rod.  A small calico.  It took me over an hour to managed my only fish of the day.  A queenfish.  Hardly an impressive catch.  We got off the water after 1pm after failing to get another fish to bite during the slack tide.  No bueno.  I was hoping we would get a little good fish karma since we missed the epic topwater bite at Perris this weekend.

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Look: Ribbit Swimming Frog

After coming up with the Salamander fly I thought it could make a good deep water swimming frog pattern as well.  So this is what I've come up with so far.  If all goes to plan testing on both flies will be this weekend if not earlier.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Last Minute

I just got home from the bay with Chul.  It was a last minute thing since he bailed out for this morning's plan to fish Perris Lake.  I came back home heartbroken since I just read a report from a local forum from one guy slayed them on topwater.  He had 20 blow ups and 15-16 largemouth to hand this morning even though it was completely sunny. 
Despite a decent tidal predictions, tides didn't start moving significantly until the last 30 minutes of daylight.  Chul got the skunk with his new Winston Boron 6wt rod.  I managed a 1.75 pound spottie and lost another on the last few minutes of sunlight on an injured baitfish fly.  Fishing was just about to pick up but since the pram has no running lights we couldn't stay to continue fishing.  Rough day mad more painful after reading that forum post. Well that figures.  At least dinner good at Pho Ba Co.

First Look: The Gourmet Salamander Fly

The prototype Salamander fly
After reading hundreds of reports from gear guys catching bass on salamanders, for the longest time I've been trying unsuccessfully to create a fly that imitates these creatures.  I've never even come close.  It was not until I started buying Fish Skull sculpin heads did I realize my dreams may have been answered.  I made a few quick drawings one day away in the journal and later when I had time went to the vice to see if theory can become reality.  I'm still experimenting with the body and possibly the legs but this is what I came up with.  I had planned to try them today at Perris Lake but apparently my fishing buddy's vagina hurt and canceled on me last night.  I know you're reading this, did you really expect no ribbing from me?  I'll have to wait to see if these flies are a go or no go.  We'll see, hopefully next week.
I'm trying various body material-one with craft fur, another with chenille and McFly Foam
What really sucks is that I didn't figure this fly out during the spawn where ideally I'd be throwing these at bedding bass protecting their nests.  I'll have to wait for next year for that.  Also in the works is an articulated version.  If you leave the tail out it becomes a swimming frog pattern.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Return To Prado

My first bass of the day, a 1.75 pounder
Much needed rain came the past few days and today was one of the first days of fishable weather.  With a  forecast of clouds and Chul off at 6am, it was a good idea to hit up some local largemouth water and try our luck at some popper action.  The plan was for Chul to text me when he got off work around 6 and that would be my cue  to head out and make my way to his house.  I programed my alarm wrong and awoke an hour earlier than planned.  When it came past 6 with no text from Chul which is very unlike himself, I wondered if he forgot or his phone died.  So I called him and went straight to voicemail.  Now about 6:40 I called again and again no response.  I decided to head to his house anyways figuring his phone probably died.  On the way, I got a text from him that he was forced to do OT and would be out of there in 20 minutes.  With the sun starting to peak out of the haze , any chance of topwater action looked unlikely.  Halfway to his house he called me and let me know he was leaving. 

After waiting for him to make it back home and now more than an hour past our planned start we packed the pram into his truck and headed to Prado.  Despite the sun poking out we were adamant on trying our poppers.  Chul with a frog gurgler and myself with a Webb's Folded Foamhead, we started banging the banks.  After about an hour of futile casting, I changed to one of Chul's rubber legged woolly bugger monstrosity that he had great success with the last time he fished here by himself.  I believe I managed a bump that I missed.  After a while Chul gave up on topwater and tied on one of my olive clouser flies tied the way Bill Calhoun suggested I tie them with flashabou lied flat on the top.  In no time Chul got the skunk off the boat, a bass at the time I thought it was only a three quarter pounder.  Later though after comparing it against a bass we actually weighed I now think it was much bigger maybe a pound to a pound and a quarter. 
My version of the Wedding Veil, Bluegill colored.
At this time I realized I left my XXL C&F box in his truck.  There were two flies I specifically tied wanting to try it on bass.  We made our way to the spillway and fished on our way back working the tulies as we made our way to the truck.  Luckily Prado is a tiny lake so it wasn't a big problem.  When I got the box I tied on a modified Wedding Veil tied with bluegill colors.  Within a few casts my line went heavy and it initially felt that I snagged submerged structure until I felt a head shake.  The bass tried to run back into the structure but I had enough backbone on my Scott S3S 7 weight to prevent that.  Once lipped I bogaed it, I guessed a pound and a quarter and was proven wrong.  Surprisingly the bass weighed a pound a three quarters.  My gauge for bass lately has been way off.
My second bass to hand
We made our way to the other side of the lake and I managed to bang the tulies with my new favorite bluegill imitation.  I've struggled throughout the years to find a fly that has a proper bluegill profile and I think I found it.  I managed to lose at least three in this small section.  I saw each fish come and attack the fly.  The first I was too slow to set the hook.  Once I realized my contour camera was not on I turned it on and missed the next bass that I saw charge the fly coming out of the weeds.  I blew my load too quick and pulled it right out of its face.  The next bass I saw take hit the fly hard and I didn't set the hook enough and spit the fly.    By this time we made our way into another cove.  I threw my fly beneath a tree and a small bass bumped it but was too small to actually take the fly. 
The Wedding Veil Bluegill fly proving it's worth
While in this cove the clouds began covering the sun and Chul returned to topwater.  After a while he was blown up when he was not ready and missed a very nice bass just after starting that he was bout to quit and go back subsurface.  Continuing our drift Chul and I made a cast toward a submerged structure that I commented it looked like a log and soon enough my line went tight.  Angry this bass was not happy.  I guessed it was about a pound and a quarter.  We made our way to the other side of this cove and we both missed a fish practically just side by side.  Chul missed the fish with his popper and I missed on my bluegill fly right when it hit the water.  After that the fishing died down even though we tried about an hour or so more.  Despite the fact that the fish went tight lipped, I love this style of fishing.  Banging the banks with either a popper or streamer and floating lines watching the fish take on top or just under the surface.  It's exciting and very interactive.  Fishing at Prado is a joy.  The deepest part of the lake is no more than 14 feet (at today's level in low water year) so a sinking line is really unnecessary.  Most if not all the fishing will be done working the shallow weeds trying to coerce a bass to come out of the darkness.  I prefer it much more than the concrete swimming pool that is MVL.  
These unknown birds doing their German Eagle impression
We finished at 1pm and hit the Orvis store at Pasadena to use up our $25 off coupons that Chul gets and I don't for whatever reason.  I'm a little pissed about that since I've been a  customer longer than him and have spent more at Orvis in the past decade or so than he ever has.  Now that's bullshit.