Thursday, October 11, 2018

Rattletale Fly

Last season inspired by the success of an injured baitfish popper created by my friend John, I set out to create own.  While his fly used a traditional popper head reversed to impart a sliding action hidden with EP ultra brush.  Mine is much simpler and uses a folded foam head.  I've added a rattle within flexcord for added obnoxiousness.  The fly can be tied traditionally with the eyes at 3 and 9 o'clock or tied like this one, injured baitfish style,  with eyes at the 12 and 6.
I only was able to fish this fish once last year and it was toward the end of a bad season.  Managed only one rise that whole day but it was with this fly.  This season I wanted to see if this fly had any merit.  I can say I only stopped using this fly when I wanted to test another.  It works.  Tying instructions forthcoming.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Pennsylvania Fishing Recap Notes

Slate drake sporadic hatch through the day. If fishing a dry all day searching use a Slate Drake fly.
  • Caddis early in morning.  
  • Midge throughout the day.  
  • Cahill/ BWO evenings  
  • Hatch around 6-9pm

Set Indicator 1.5x the depth for nymphing.

Flies that worked:
Galloup midge size 18
Gurddle bug golden/brown size 6
Harrop's hairwing Cahill size 14
BWO emerger size 18
Slate drake meshwings size 8(?)
PT emerger size 14 (slate run)
Improved BWO comparadun size 18 with Krystal flash
Cahill emerger size 14 run

Mice at night (Matt got one at around 10)
Webb’s folded foam three rises
Hard foam popper chartreuse/black or yellow
Quarter upstream pop along the way no need to pause

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Last night around midnight I was in bed trying to get some sleep when I was startled by a frantic knocking at the front door.  Who the hell?  I got out of bed grabbed the pistol and checked the window to see who it was.  While pitched black I noticed a silhouette of a man with a gun holster and the typical police accouterments.  So I turned off the alarm and turned on the light put the pistol in my pocket and opened the door.  The deputy would hear the door open and came back and identified himself.  After a brief conversation he wanted some info on my neighbor who had he's backyard stereo on all day on the same channel.  I hadn't heard it but I guess some nearby did and called for a wellness check.  I texted my neighbor to see if he was okay or if he was out of town as he travels for business quite a bit.   I never did hear from him.  I wonder if he is alright.  I was out of cell phone range much of the day so I'm not sure if he ever replied.  Destroyed my phone on the water so I still don't know.
Now to the fishing.  Initially the plan was to fish the Kern but we axed that when we heard the fishing was only good for the first few hours of morning and then again at sundown.  Given the time to get there and how early we'd need to rise we called that off.  So we decided to stay locally.  We had two options.  Both in the past have been excellent but since we hadn't been to either in a while they were a crap shoot.  One option would be more difficult in terms of getting to the water and in the bushwhacking but most likely result in more solitude.  We choose the easier option in both regards.  I didn't want to deal with that road nor did I want to fight the vegetation with my backcasts.  While we choose the "easier " option we decided to fish a section we'd never checked out.  It proved almost if not just as hard in terms of bushwhacking.  Also there was no defined trail so there was either fighting vegetation or boulder hopping.  Despite these challenged at many spots it would open up and produce a beautiful pool with wide open spaces for casting.  We managed several fish but nothing of significant note.  Although I did have a local "beast" rise my fly only for the tippet to snap.  I did manage it on the GoPro and I've reviewed the footage.  Even with the camera mounted far away from the action the splash from the rise still looked big.  We ended the day by 11:30am and started our trek out of the canyon but not before I destroyed my iphone in the water.  Thanks LifeProof that's some quality waterproofing you guys have.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Canyon Skunks Me Again

Earlier in the week I asked Luc if he'd be fishing today  and if he needed a partner.  I wanted to test some new gear and prototype flies.  He said there's a tournament today but he'd be game .  We'd fish the East side he said as they've increase the lake by three feet.  I went skunked again but I was not without my chances.  I missed all three.  Luc managed three and missed a handful.  (Blog is now caught up with all fishing posts)

Quick Run

September 25, 2018
I had to return a borrowed Pelican case to my buddy so since I was in the neighborhood I decided to take the boat out for a short ride.  Water temps 68.5.  Fished kelp beds.  One fish.  10 inches.  Done after little over an hour.

Skunked at Luc's

September 16, 2018

Another day at Canyon Lake with Luc.  Tough day.  Luc managed two to hand missing five more.  I went zero for four.  I wanted to try out a new travel rod I just picked up.  The Orvis Frequent Flyer 8 weight.  It's a seven piece rod so its very portable.  I needed such a rod since airlines in Asia require you to check in rods unlike the rest of the world where you can carry them on.  Having a rod that I can throw in my suitcase is very convenient.  The rod given its entry level price point is fairly impressive given its also multi pieced.  Paired with SA Big Fly line and a Freaky Frog it casts quite nicely.  Its a nice addition earns its spot in my arsenal for a travel rod or a back up back up back up rod.  (I have multiple 8 weights.)

Another Day at Luc's

September 1, 2018
Earlier this week I got a text from Luc asking whether I was still alive.  I responded barely.  He asked if I wanted to join him fishing this weekend.  Of course I took him up on the offer.  I arrived at his house at 5:30am and after unloading my gear into his boat we set off to the dock.  Given the low water most of the launch ramp was cordoned off to only one small sliver and so when we arrived at the launch we were waiting for a group of fishermen retrieving their boat.  What seemed like an eternity, Luc's response was simply to call them "amateurs."
We launched with two boats already on the water and fished the main lake.  Having never caught any fish on a mouse pattern I started with an articulated version.  Luc with one of John's sliced headed sliders.  Luc was the first to get some responses but failed to connect on any.  After a bit, with the sun starting to poke through, I switched flies and started to go with a proven pattern, one I invented a few seasons ago, an unnamed injured baitfish slider with a rattle.
Luc was finally able to connect after what seemed like at least half a dozen misses.  Not a big one but at least the skunk was off the boat.  He would continue to get some here and there, missing more and more.  He concluded it must have been either the big hook or the weed guard was interfering with the hookset.  It took me some time to get my first after missing a few.  My wrist has been bothering me the past few days and it was simply to sensitive for me to do a "BassMaster" hook set on these fish this day so all my hook sets were weak.  Most were trout hook sets by simply raising the rod tip.  All my fish were caught using this method.  All my fish landed inhaled the fly so my hookset wasn't as critical.  Eventually I was able to get a fish using this method, nothing of any significant size but as Luc likes to puts it "With poppers, its all in the take."
With the sun starting to hit the water Luc decided to hit to the East Side and so we moved.  Once with passed through the tunnel we fished the bank along the main road and there I managed my best fish of the day.  With a weakened wrist this fish felt like a beast on my 10 weight.  In fact all these fish felt heavier than they were.  We would manage one last fish a piece on this side before calling it quits.  Luc's last fish was from a wolf pack chasing bait to shore.  That would be it before we called it a day.

Couple Unimpressive Days on the Water

August 16th and 30
Fished these two days.  The first time was with Owen.  He was the only one to catch a fish and I was skunked.  The next time I was alone and it was hardly any better with only dinks to hand.  This summer has been rather disappointing for me here.

Inshore White Seabass

July 12th
A few months ago my buddy Joel sold his old Zodiac and upgraded to a wider and longer version.  As with the old boat, he gave a key and gave me access to it to use anytime I wished.  The fishing has been somewhat slow so I hadn't taken the boat out for a while until Thursday.  Joel has been telling the kelp forest has been producing bass in large numbers so I called my buddy Jacob to see if he wanted to head out and give it a try.  I've taken him out a few time and on each occasion its been rather poor.  Of course this has been partially because of cold water and the lack of a good moving tide.  Now that water has warmed and the tide moving rather well this day I figured it would be a good day as any to give it a go.
I debated on whether to stay and fish the breakwall or head out to the kelp forest.  I would decide once I made it out of the bay and check how many fishermen were actually at the wall.  If there were many I might have stayed there but since only one kayaker was there I figured it was probably slow.  So I headed south to PV.  On my third cast I got hit.  It felt heavy but I was unsure it it was just the kelp but once it began fighting I knew I was on.  I saw a elongated silvery fish.  I thought it could be a white seabass or a bonito.  After pulling him through the kelp I realized it was a WSB.  It would be my only fish of the day.  Jacob would land two calicos, one of which was a decent fish.  After about 3 hours of fishing we'd head on in for lunch before calling it a day.

Pennsylvania Day Six

June 29, 2018
It's the last full day of this trip and one of my goals was to get a legit smallmouth.  While I haven't done much of it, all the smallmouth I've ever caught have been unimpressive.  I wanted one that at least looked decent while lipping it.  So today while in the hottest parts of the day and when the trout fishing is less than ideal, we decided to try our luck at bass fishing with poppers. 
But before we did that I want to see a covered bridge.  I actually wanted a pic of us  fishing with one in the background.  So I asked Jona of the nearest one after asking about bass fishing.  We found one but did not fish around it as entry to the water was problematic.  So we took off to small recommended smallie water and started throwing poppers.  I managed to get three to rise but couldn't set the hook on any.  By this time we were feeling the effects of travel and six days of fishing and decided not head back in for lunch.
Our lunch of choice? Sheetz.  For those on the west coast Sheetz is a gas station chain that started in PA and expanded out along the east coast.  It actually serves decent food.  Not the crap we get here at our local station but legit food, made to order, using fresh ingredients.  I was thoroughly impressed.  We actually had this for lunch or a snack more than a few times this trip.  We made it a point to have it one last time before we headed back home.  For me it was an Italian sandwich loaded with fries.  When we finally got back to California we'd still talk about Sheetz and wish they'd actually open a chain here.  Not sure if it would work given economically given the real estate constraints and values of property here in the Southland but one can wish.
Now with hours to kill before the evening hatch, we need decided to be tourists and check out Penn's cave.  The tour is 45 minute boat ride through the cave checking out the geology.  We were warned by Jona that the tour guide can be cheesy.  We were warned.
Throughout the trip Kelly and I were thoroughly impressed with rural Pennsylvania.  I really enjoyed it.  It's a gorgeous piece of America.  In all my time knowing Joel he's always considered his move to California an escape.  From what I envisioned this place to be was completely different from how he's always explained it to me.  With both Kelly and I praising this place Joel was finally coming around and seeing how his home state wasn't that bad after all.  That was until we took this boat ride.  "There's always one" is the expression.  On this ride we were trap with the "one."  You know the guy.  The guy that will never shut up.  The guy who makes stupid comments who thinks are funny.  The guy who is always interrupting.  The guy who asked the stupidest irrelevant questions.   Basically the guy who ruins it for everyone else.  Just this one guy brought back all of Joel's repressed pent up frustration regarding this place.  His words, ""It's loaded with stupid people.  Now I remember why I wanted out of this place."  Of course as with any good American buddy would do, I needled him about it the whole rest of the trip.  I told him I love that dude only because he raised Joel's blood pressure so high.
With the cave experience now over, we were cutting it close to prime dry fly time.  Initially we were going to fish a new stretch of water but thought against it as we didn't want to waste prime time on exploring new waters.   So back to tunnel road and old familiar.   There we saw the bamboo rod maker's son and he showed us the 5 pound smallie he caught out of there the night before with a mouse fly.
The dry fly action was the best so far this trip although it didn't start until much later than the other nights.  Joel lead the way and in no time we were all on fish.  At one point when the action was hot and heavy the sun and glare was in my eyes and I couldn't get a proper bead on my fly so Joel would guide the both of us on direct us to where to place the fly.  Lost a beast slipped off the improved BWO.  Joel said it was at least 20 inches.  It felt heavy.  The earlier fish I caught were on a  slate drake.  Fished slate with bwo dropper the whole time.   The next day would be a travel day.  We'd pick up the Joel's boy at camp and then check out Penn State before heading to the airport where our flight was delayed.  It was not a fun way to end the day.  Ended up getting home past midnight before crashing big time.

Pennsylvania Day Five

June 28, 2018
Today would be a light fishing day as most of the time would be spent dicking around and traveling.  We had dinner plans with Joel's mother in Troy, his hometown.  But before dinner we'd hit a few famous waters on the way up.
When we finished breakfast we checked out the local bamboo rod maker located on the Feathered Hook premises.  The actual rod maker, L.J. Downes was not in but his son was there working on his personal rod.  We asked if we could take a look and he was kind enough to allow us in the shop.  We quickly bonded with the son as he was a San Diego boy in town to work on some of his rods.
Next on the agenda, one of Joel's old stomping grounds, Slate Run.  Joel told me in PA there are big fish in small water.  This was such a place.  We stopped by the Slate Run Fly shop, located with a small gift shop/market/deli and picked the brains of one of the employees and bought a few flies.  He recommended the simulator.  I ended buying one of the shop's hats as a souvenir.  Both these purchases were to be a running joke for the rest of the day.
When the fishing got tough, despite his love for the Stimi, I told Joel that that employee duped you into buying some overstocked flies that he needed to get rid of.  "Did you see how many flies were in that bin compared to the others?"  I asked.  "He saw a couple of California dopes and said its a good time to offload this shit."  I also told him he'd probably get employee of the year for selling the only Slate Run hat in fifteen years.  "That mofo smelled us coming a mile away and had the register open ready to take money from our wallets,"  I joked.
We had to hike down to the river through dense forest.  Normally I like doing stuff like that but before fishing here everyone from the guys at the Feathered Hook fly shop to Slate Run warned us about snakes.  Watch where you step.  One of the guides at the hook was very adamant about it. It freaked us out.  He suggested we stay in the water as much as possible.  The numbers photos of venous snakes on the wall on the Slate Run fly shop did not relieve of anxiety.
Mist rose off the water and the overcast morning made for some picturesque fishing.  It would not be long after reaching the water I had fish rising on my dry.  Fishing was okay in the morning but once it warmed and the sun poked through the clouds the fishing died off.
After a few hours of trying to get another fish to rise to no avail it was time to give up.  The humidity was starting to get to us and we started our climb up the mountain in search of our vehicle.  Every step up the mountain was fraught with peril.  As any step could lead to a snake bit.  This anxiety was with us throughout the day and made fr a stressful time out.  when we finally reached the car, Joel was pissed.  He'd concluded we stress about it way too much like a bunch of pussies as he put it.  He'd fish these waters for years in flip flips no less and never ran into or worried about snakes.
Maybe so I told him but I had been bitten by a snake and  when they were carrying me out for rescue I would have looked at him and said "You motherfucker. I blame you.  Why the fuck did you take me here?"  He laughed and said he would have said the same thing in any similar situation.  Like when a buddy asks to go surfing with you and you get stung by a jellyfish, you'd look at your buddy and say the same thing.

Troy, PA
Continuing our journey north, we made a pit stop at Joel's alma mater, Mansfield College.  He'd tell us all the antics he'd and his pals got into and such.  Once we were done we drove to a nearby stream to do some fishing.  Joel's mom wanted some fish so we'd oblige her but when we reached the water it was blown out.
So instead we made our way to Troy.  Ever since I met Joel, he has been shitting on his hometown.  I honestly thought it was going to be a dump but in realty it's quite nice.  Quaint even.  After walking around town Kelly and I both liked it and were glad we checked it out.  It has interesting architecture and historic landmarks. 

Rural PA Knows How and What to Advertise

Pennsylvania Day Four

June 27, 2018
Cherry run was one of the waters that was on the agenda.  On this day we decided to check it out.  Rain was in the forecast and by the time we parked riverside the light rain began to fall.  With overcast and light rain I figured the dry fly action maybe going off throughout the day so I rigged two rods, one with nymphs and other with a dry.   The parking lot was already filled with a handful of cars which was a bit disappointing.  We hiked down to the water and started fishing subsurface.
I don't recall anyone getting fish for the first couple hours but in time we all managed to meet up at a confluence where we all fished one section or another.  Kelly was the first to get a fish.  If I recall it was a whitefish but since Joel and I were on the other side of the river we couldn't see.   We speak up once again eventually meeting up at another confluence.  Here we'd a sporadic rises here and there.  I switched to my dry rig.
We'd split up once again and I'd move further up where I found a few fish feeding with regularity.  With an improved BWO I managed to get my first fish of the day.  Eventually Joel would catch up with me and I told him to switch to a dry and get up here.  He'd eventually get his gear rigged for the surface and started tossing to risers.
In no time he was on a good fish.  He were forced to make long bombs into the banks as where we were at there was no good way to get any closer.  Mending and clean drifts became somewhat problematic.  So we continued upstream for easier water to fish.
Kelly would catch up us and we told him to rig for dries.  Eventually we'd reach a stretch that had enough consistent  risers that all three of us had a chance to fish.  The whole day was bit of slog and by the time we stopped fishing by late afternoon and started our hike out of there we debated if we had enough in us to fish the evening hatch.
By the time we reached the rental van we had enough for the day.  None of us wanted to fish the evening hatch.  So we drove back to town for another meal at Elk Creek and called it a day.