Tag Archives: Nymph

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

25 to the Net

My friend Mike gave me a call early in the week, and asked me to fish with him on Sunday. The President’s Day holiday meant that my son’s sports would end on Saturday, so Sunday was wide open. Given both of our evening commitments, the options were limited to ninety minutes from home base. That means The South Platte River near Deckers, and The Arkansas, are the closest bodies of water that can be accessed. I had not fished since early fall, so I was excited at the opportunity to unwind in a river. Winter fly fishing in Colorado tail waters is special. The opportunity to hook up in February is such a unique experience for a native New Englander. A twelve month season allows anglers to escape at their convenience. If you can withstand the variable weather conditions, there are big fish to be had.

I don’t need an alarm when hunting or fishing is the activity of the upcoming day. To that point, I jumped out of bed at 5 am to prepare to pursue native rainbows. Mike, Luke, Tim and I arrived at the river at about 7:45 am. There were a few other vehicles in the parking lot, but those fishermen had taken a route away from our favorite holes. All of our rods were already rigged, so once the waders and jackets were on, we hurried to the prime spots. During my ten minute dash, I spotted a bald eagle at the very top of a tree; we were both searching for the same quarry.

I picked a section of the river where I have had past success. The fish gather at the end of a thirty foot long shallow riffle that drops quickly into four feet of water moving at 55 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second). Sporadic cloud cover prohibited me from seeing fish, but I knew the rainbows would be moving into the area as the day warmed. My flies of choice were a #18 flashback pheasant tail on top with a Mike Duerr #20 Yong’s Special as the trailing bait. I tie the flies together with Orvis Mirage Fluorocarbon 5x tippet and use a single Dinsmores BB to get to the required depth.

Trees line the shoreline, so lengthy roll casts are the only safe way to reach my intended targets. Ten drifts did not result in a strike, so I changed positions as well as increased the space between my Thingamabobber and the pheasant tail. As the rig reached the end of its drift, the line stopped and I set the hook. The fished moved quickly up the water column, and spit the hook. Disappointed, I restarted the process to see if I could entice another hit. My friends moved into the spot, and positioned themselves around the large pool. As the first bug hatch of the morning unfolded, everyone began to hook up. Disappointedly, I struggled to keep the larger fish on once the fight began. One big bow actually broke me off at the leader. Once I composed myself, I changed patterns. My Yong’s Special was still my trailer fly, but I put a tangerine soft milk egg on top. Eventually, I started to get in a groove, and my confidence improved as fish were brought to the net.

It was pretty cool to see my neighbor, Luke, take his first fish on a fly. He was a natural nympher, hooking up many times throughout the day. Fly fishing is not an easy sport; technique is almost as important as experience. Luke has neither, yet his production was that of a wily veteran. His success was lauded by the group.

As 2 pm approached, Mike and Tim suggested that we make our way home. I gave the final “last cast” call and flipped my flies upstream. After an initial mend, I achieved the appropriate float. As my indicator neared the end of the run, it went under with force. I raised my right wrist to set the hook, and the fish screamed down river. A ten minute fight ensued, and concluded when a kind stranger netted the brightly colored male trout. He congratulated me for catching “the largest fish” he had seen taken from the river, and we released the rainbow back to the pool.

On our way back to Parker, we stopped to have a couple of beers and reminisce about our success. A warm February day on the water is time well spent.

 

Equipment Employed

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When it all Comes Together

Some key descriptors of the perfect fishing vacation on the North Platte River would include:

  • Temperate weather
  • Manageable flows
  • A plethora of bug hatches
  • Plenty of big, hungry trout
  • And of course, great friends

Recently, we drove from Colorado to Wyoming with the intent of enjoying four days of intense fly fishing.  What we experienced characterizes the essence of an ideal fishing trip.  We enjoyed amazing conditions, accessible bodies of public water, millions of flying insects and an incredible number of large, actively feeding trout.   Our mornings were defined by hot woolly bugger action, while the afternoons had rising fish vigorously taking presented emergers.  Landed trout ranged in size (15” to 27”) and in species (giant rainbows and even a big few browns).  Every fisherman on the journey enjoyed over seventy five hook ups a day while landing their share of pigs.

I brought with me a variety of newly purchased equipment that I acquired based on a impulse decision not a defined need.  One of the new items procured was a William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack.  I own a variety of packs/vests and did not need to add another to the collection.  That said, I made the purchase because the product description met a variety of personal requirements.   Here is my review of the William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack.

 

Getting it Done in Wyoming - 2012
Getting it Done in Wyoming – 2012

Date Purchased

January 15, 2012

Price Paid

$129.99

Aesthetics

Attractive sage and blue; you won’t be embarrassed on the water.

Manufacturer Product Description

William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack will ensure that you get the most from your time on the water. The William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack has the new Willy J AIRTRACK™ suspension, and you will forget you are wearing anything – no matter how much gear you have managed to stuff into it. From its William Joseph tippet dispenser to its voluminous pockets, it is the most organized pack on the water.

Features as Described by the Manufacturer

  • Low profile, super strong grab handle and net loop
  • Rear pack; large enough to hold all your gear. Small enough to keep you quick and agile
  • Daisy chain lash straps for those weird loads
  • Two additional organization pockets
  • Hydration portion of the pack holds a 35 oz. bladder (not included)
  • Perforated, seamless alpine style shoulder straps.
  • Nearly perfect weight distribution and center of gravity
  • Perforated/breathable AIRTRACK Suspension for maximum airflow
  • Excess webbing slot. No more flapping straps.
  • Wide and comfortable side straps for great weight transfer
  • Dual Built in Spectra Retractors
  • Multiple accessory attachment points

Functionality

  • Comfort: I have donned vests and other packs in the past.  The Confluence is the most comfortable pack I have ever worn.  It is easy to maneuver which I value when layers have to be removed/added.  The AIRTRACK Suspension allows me to totally relax during fishing.
  • Fit: The Confluence has many adjustments that allows the user to easily modify so they can enjoy a custom fit.  The buckles are effortless to tune with the pack on or off.
  • Storage:  The Confluence has a assortment of useful pockets.  I easily store gloves, a hat, a multi-tool and all necessary terminal tackle.  I can venture far from the car without the fear I forgot anything critical to execution.
  • Access: I love the magnets and the workstation!  Getting at my flies, tippet, split shots and tools represent an easy process.  I can work quickly and effortlessly when rigging and re-rigging.  My nippers and forceps are maintained on the pack’s integrated retractors.   My net is effortlessly acquired and reconnected via a magnet cord (not included).
  • Usability: The pack works for me in every way.  It is light and completely stabilized across my shoulders.  My neck and back are never stressed.  When fighting a fish, the platform is unobtrusive, allowing me to shift my hands and rod easily.  If I want to access the rear pockets, I just unbuckle one strap and turn the unit 180 degrees.

What Would Make the Product Perfect

  • Include the bladder as it has been tough for me to purchase at the local fishing store.

Would I Buy the Product Again

  • Absolutely: I own 5 packs/vests. The Willy J Confluence is now my primary pack.

 

 

 

 

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Winter Fly Fishing – What you Need to be Successful

My favorite part of fly fishing is that in Colorado, I am able to fish year round. Growing up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, the fishing season ended in October when the striped bass migrated down the Atlantic seaboard. Fly fishing in the winter breaks up the monotony that the cold weather brings on, while providing an opportunity to catch trout experiencing minimal fishing pressure. What I have learned over the last two years is that you need to prepare effectively if you expect to execute in winter’s harsh and unpredictable weather conditions. Here are some thoughts:

  • Pack too much clothing then layer it. It is far better to have to peel off layers then to wish you had an extra layer with you.
  • Invest in performance materials and do not wear cotton. I prefer Nike Pro or Under Armor Heat Gear.
  • Bring a hat that can cover your ears. I prefer the Simms GORE-TEX® EXSTREAM™ Hat . You look a little silly but it keeps your head warm.
  • Make certain your top layer is waterproof and windproof. You do not want to get wet when there is a 30mph wind blowing.
  • Buy the right socks. You want your socks to expedite moisture wicking and provide dry performance.
  • Purchase fishing gloves. That said, once your hands get wet (landing a fish), you get cold…quickly.
  • Buy Stanley’s Ice Off Paste (or something similar) and apply it to your rod guides. Guides that constantly freeze are burdensome.
  • Utilize a fish hook holder (Ty-Rite Jr. is a good one but there are others). When your are threading 6x tippet through a #24 midge, the tool becomes invaluable.
  • Bring an extra reel. If your primary reel gets wet, the gears will freeze and it will need time to thaw out.
  • Drink a lot of water. You might not feel dehydrated in colder conditions but it happens.

Recently, I was evaluating different all-weather jackets that I could wear as a primary coat or layer it on colder days.

I purchased the Runoff by William Joseph. Here is my review on the jacket.

Criteria Thoughts
Manufacturer Description The Runoff is a meticulously tailored soft-shell which offers a level of movement that you will not find in other jackets. Articulated elbows with a micro fleece liner allow you to cast all day in absolute comfort. Roomy pockets and adjustable cuffs at a unbelievable price.

  • Micro fleece liner
  • Zipper chin guard
  • DWR coated fabric
Price $99.95
Comfort I wear a 42L-44 jacket size (depending on the manufacturer). I ordered a size large Runoff and it fits perfectly. Roomy in the shoulders, but form fitting through the torso, the Runoff just feels very comfortable once it is on. It can be used as your primary jacket on warmer winter days (above 40 degrees for me) or as a layer on colder days.
Looks The Runoff is a good looking jacket. It comes in a charcoal color, and is highlighted with the William Joseph logo (which is cool looking). I will wear the jacket during other outdoor activities besides fishing.
Functionality (Windproof, Breathable, Waterproof) The Runoff definitely protects you from harsh winds. It was blowing 15mph regularly while we were fishing and I could not feel the draft on my chest. When the temperature dropped to 24 degrees, I had to put on another layer. I did not experience any sweating or unwelcomed body moisture. There are three pockets and I was easily able to store my fly box in the chest pocket. Because there was no rain (and only light snow), I have yet to test the coat’s water resistant feature.
Would I Buy it Again? Absolutely. After extensive research, I am not sure there is a better jacket for the money?

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