Tag Archives: Mirage

One Big Fish

For the last seven years I make it a point to spend a few days chasing native rainbow trout in the North Platte River outside of Casper, Wyoming.  The fishery is special and cherished by the anglers that have made the area their second home.  During my first three years it was not uncommon to hook a dozen fish over twenty inches long.  In fact, the river always offered me an opportunity to do battle with at least one monster trout during my trip.  Over the last three years, the number of fish hooked remains astounding.  A seventy-five trout day is achievable and, at some level, expected.  The one thing missing, however, are the giant bows.

Family commitments required Chad and me to push our trip out three weeks as well as shorten it by two days. Our first morning proved to be successful as we experienced plenty of consistent action.  We figured out the feeding pattern, and employed a #14 red juju baetis along with a trailing #20 red zebra midge to secure many of the strikes.  As the afternoon evolved we made our way to a popular stretch that produced for us in the past.  The flow was down, limiting areas to fish.  Additionally, this section of the Platte has been discovered as the number of fisherman in the water has quadrupled.  As we waded into the current, we observed at least fifteen people manning desirable spots up river.  To that point, we were forced to fish a sub-optimal but available hole.  Maintaining the same flies on my nymphing rig, I made my initial cast into a darker, deeper seam.  Almost immediately my indicator plunged and I set the hook.  My line remained firm, so I stepped into deeper water to remove the apparent snag.  Suddenly, my line made an abrupt shift and rocketed away from me.  I could feel the weight of the fish and it was noticeably different.  Realizing I had hooked a big trout on a small midge, I positioned myself for what I anticipated would be a lengthy battle.  The bow remained low in the water column, and moved with purpose when I attempted to cut the distance between us.  There is an eddy on the far bank, and my initial thought was to try to coax the fish into the slower water.  My objective was to ensure the trout never got below me as I knew the small fly would not remain embedded in the fish’s jaw.  Fortunately, he continued to move up river which allowed me to slowly take back a portion of my fly line.  I removed my net from the magnetic clip and prepared to land the trout.  He was still energized and darted upstream evading my attempt to capture him.  I walked behind the fish and continued to reel.  Once my indicator neared my rod tip, I gently raised the fly rod.  The buck swam to the top and I netted him.  The twenty-two-inch fish was the largest I had landed in recent years.  Chad snapped some pictures then I returned him to the river.

I feel fortunate to have hooked and landed a North Platte leviathan.  The big fish are still around; you just have to get a bit lucky.

Visit Mark and his team at the Platte River Fly Shop.  They sell me the flies that are actually working.

Ross 2016 22 Bow

Here We Go Again

I don’t get to fish often.  As with my contemporaries, work and family take priority at this time in life.  To that point, when I do fish, I like to venture to spots that put the odds of success in my favor.  Colorado fly fishing in the summer means Spinney Mountain Reservoir, callibaetis nymphs and a Gold Medal fishery. Timing the trip is critical, as you need to be certain that the hatch is actually coming off. If Poxybacks and Flashback Hare’s ears are being purchased in mass at local fly shops, I go ahead and schedule a day off from the job.  In late June of 2015, I was told by some reliable friends who fish the lake regularly that they spotted trout rolling close to shore.

I arrived at Brad’s house at 5 am, and we immediately hit the road.  It would be the first time Brad had fished this area in more than 25 years of living in Colorado.  The wet weather in the Rockies during the spring and early summer made the rivers uniquely high and fast.  The waters flowing into Spinney were so heavy that the entire landscape has changed.  Areas that had produced in prior years were no longer accessible for wading fisherman.  Weed lines that hold the hatching callibaetis nymphs weren’t visible.  I started to succumb to a bit of doubt as things were not as they once were.  Adapting to the situation, Brad and I worked our way along the eastern shoreline, scanning the relatively calm water for porpoising fish.  While there was no visible action, Brad located a deep drop just off a point.  There was milfoil present, so we decided to rig up and start fishing. It took a while, but a fish boiled about 30 yards to my left.  Once in range, I laid a cast in the general vicinity of where I witnessed the feeding fish.  I use an Amy’s Ant as my indicator, and hang a #10 Flashback Hare’s Ear about four feet beneath the dry.  My initial twitch caused a violent strike, as the trout attacked the nymph.  A weak hook-set while the fish darted at me, had me scrambling to recover line.  The trout worked his way to my left, then spit the hook after an impressive acrobatic leap.  Disappointed at my performance, I checked my flies then started to make casts in and around the closest weed line.  It did not take long for the next fish to slam my callibaetis imitation, and move hard to my right.  The fight lasted a bit longer than anticipated, as the trout was all of 23” and powerful.  Fired up and ready for more action, I waded into deeper water angling toward a visible clump of weeds.   Once my Ant landed I gave two slight twitches, and the Hydros HD line began screaming toward me.  I stripped vigorously and pumped my rod until I felt weight on my line.  She abruptly turned and sped to the north when her head grazed my Orvis River Guard Brogue boots.  Having witnessed the massive fish up close, I felt real pressure to land the trout.  It took another 5 minutes to successfully net the 6lb fish.  She was easily the largest bow I had ever landed at Spinney.

I hooked and landed 4 more impressive trout over the next few hours.  One of my last fish of the day slurped the Amy’s Ant just a few feet from my position in the water.  I watched a black head subtly surface, grab and make off with the floating fly.  It was the most thrilling take in my over 8 years of fly fishing.  The imagery of the experience will always be emblazoned in my mind.

Spinney 2015 Video

Equipment

Reel Fly Rod Waders Line Pack Camera
Mirage Helios 2 Silver Sonic Hydros HD Safe Passage Intova

 

Welcome Home

For the last six years, early spring has meant a journey to the North Platte River in central Wyoming.  The river is packed with large, aggressive and hungry trout.  The land that surrounds the water has the characteristics of the old west; a limited amount of people, plenty of indigenous creatures, and predictably unpredictable weather.  It’s a unique place that allows visitors to escape life for a brief period of time.

2014 represented an atypical adventure for me.  My fly fishing mentors, Chad and Joe Butler, completed their annual visit just one week prior to my trip.  Additionally, the group that I had invited all canceled just days before departure.  While I absolutely enjoy fishing with friends, this trip is about personal mental relief.  For a few of days, the mobile phone is off, and emails go unchecked.  I become all consumed with pursuing fish.  

Day One

After the five hour drive from Parker, the contents of my truck were quickly unloaded into the cabin.  I slipped into my waders, strapped on my chest pack and rigged my fly rod.  The river is only minutes away, and the anticipation makes it hard to focus on the task at hand.  I had planned to patiently scout my favorite spots along the river, and drop in only when big fish exposed themselves to me.  When I started my truck, the strategy went the way of the dodo bird.  I hit the gas and darted to one of my favorite holes.  While there was not a vehicle present, I witnessed a lone fisherman making casts against the river bank.  A three minute wade put me at the top of an elegant riffle.  My two fly rig consisted of a chartreuse egg on top, and a Slade Fedore designed leech as the trailer.  The initial drift hugged the near seam, allowing the flies to move slowly over the shelf into deeper water.  Stunningly, my indicator pulsed, so I quickly jerked the rod over my left shoulder.  The trout raced across the fast water then headed downstream.  I followed the fish until he moved into an eddy and could be easily netted.  Over the next five hours, I hooked over two dozen fish but I landed only half of them.  There was size to most every trout with the largest equaling 21”.

Day Two

About a month before my vacation, I planned my second trip with guide extraordinaire, Slade Fedore.   Slade is a Casper native, expert fly fisherman, and a great person.  He gives advice without being demeaning, and provides timely compliments, but he is never patronizing.  Slade and I like to get after it early, so we were the first boat to unload on the Reef.  Our initial float produced three great fish.  Heading downriver, we kept picking fish up on both the egg and the leech.  The weather got a bit windy and snowy, but the bite continued to be hot.  The day was highlighted when a gigantic golden eagle plucked a pheasant from the river bank.  Minutes later, a bald eagle flew twenty feet above us, and landed on a fence post paralleling the waterway.  Almost simultaneous to the eagle perching itself, a big trout exposed himself in the middle of the river.  Slade and I both noticed the fish, and I made an immediate cast to a spot ten feet in front of him.  While the first cast was junk, my second cast hit the mark.  Seconds after my upstream mend, the bow slammed my fly, and burned 40 feet up and across the river.  He was big and my heart was racing.  The fish pulled a 180 and screamed downriver stripping fly line off the Bozeman RS Reel.  I applied gentle pressure with the hope he would behave.  Instead of acquiescing, he started to perform violent headshakes and even took to the air a few times.  We managed to get him to the side of the boat, but just out of the reach of Slade’s net.  When he was sufficiently recovered from the initial battle, he cut across the river then back behind the boat.  Only eight feet from me, I saw the hook perilously hanging in his right cheek.  A final thrash dislodged the fly, and the fish disappeared into the depths of the river.  Disappointed, I hung my head, realizing that I had just lost a 23” slab.  We ended an awesome day drinking a few beers while listening to my cabin neighbors perform a bit of authentic blue grass music. 

Day Three

Recognizing that the weekend was approaching, and the crowds would start to appear, I was up early in order to get to a favorite spot.  It did not take long for the river to begin fill up with fellow fishermen.  By early afternoon, I counted twelve rods executing similar nymphing techniques.  In order to experience much needed solitude, I walked to a more remote, but historically less productive area.  While there is no distinctive structure, I found water that supported a steady drift.  Not dissimilar from the rest of the river, I started to frequently hook and land good size rainbows.  As the late afternoon approached, we made a decision to head to a reservoir and fish the ice out.  Reports were that there were huge trout hitting crawfish imitations stripped slowly along the bottom. We talked to some bait fisherman who had picked up a few nice fish during the afternoon, but they told us that fishing was slower than in past years.  Nevertheless, we spent hours casting big streamers around ferocious winds.  As my mind wandered, an enormous leviathan appeared from the depths of the lake and took a slow pass at my bait.  Unfortunately, she did not commit to the meal, and headed back where she came from.  The day ended with only one of us landing a trout.  The lack of action did not take away from the immense splendor of the early evening in the western United States.

Day Four

I decided to cut my trip short by a day. The weekend crowds were amassing, and competing for fish was not a part of the game plan.  There is a great hole downstream that can produce a lot of action, but can also fill up quickly.  To that point, I got up early and made certain that I was the first person at the spot.  While the weather was perfect, the fish were semi-responsive.  Uncharacteristically, I had to work hard to invoke an initial strike.  Four fish later, I began to witness other anglers making their way into the river.  In addition to my fellow waders, there were many boats filling up the most fertile area in this section of river.  I realized that the trip was over, and it was time to depart.

The ride home is long, but full of pleasant memories.  I was able to think about the fish I had caught as well as the many that evaded my net.  After six years fishing the Platte, I have earned veteran status.  I know the water, and understand how to catch fish.  Year seven awaits!

The Video

 

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Amazing Customer Service continues…….

The Orvis Company
Image via Wikipedia

I posted this question on LinkedIn earlier this week.

I have been using Orvis Mirage Fluorocarbon Tippet (4x, 5x, 6x) for 18 months without issue. I have landed some very big fish (25″) on utilizing this tippet. On a recent trip, I broke off 3 fish (at the knot, on 4x Mirage tippet) fishing wooly buggers. This has never happened to me before. If I lose a fish, it is because the hooked popped during the fight. After demonstrating the weakened tippet, Orvis offered to exchange the Mirage for MaxKnot (their premium tippet).

• Has anyone had this type of tippet issue? • Has anyone had issues with Mirage tippet specifically?

• Has anyone utilized the MaxKnot before?

• I tie an improved clinch knot from tippet to fly (is there a better knot).

I received fantastic and insightful responses from other fly fisherman.  The most telling feedback came from the Orvis Product Manager in charge of tippet and leader! I was amazed by his thoughtful concern, and willingness to help me work through the issue.  I have always heard about Orvis’ commitment to customer service excellence, but this was the first time I had ever experienced it.

I have decided stick with Orvis tippet, and look forward to testing out the MaxKnot product on my next fishing adventure.

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