Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Places With No Names - Summer School

As I was in the truck driving out of "Hopper Heaven", a voicemail that popped up on my phone from Guide Scott Schroder of the Fly Shop of the Bighorns saying to give him a call.  I waited until I was back in Sheridan before ringing Scott up and he answered with a friendly hello and laid out the plan for the next day.  We'd meet early at the fly shop and get to the river not too far away accessing a stretch of ranch lease water that Rock Creek Anglers has access to known to hold some solid brown trout.  There was a worry about rising river temps with the very warm daytime temperatures which was the reason for the early start.  No problem as I'm up early each morning anyways.


The next morning I was at the shop at 7 a.m., shook hands with Scott and loaded my gear into his propane powered pickup truck.  The drive to the river gave us some time to get to know each other, finish breakfast and coffee, and build up some anticipation for the day.  I found out that Scott has worked summers as a guide for the Fly Shop of the Bighorns for quite a few years and spends the rest of the year in the classroom as a teacher at one of the nearby schools.  It's not a bad way to break up the year and Scott's on the water a lot over the summer months.  Good guides are often times teachers to the anglers that they fish with and I liked Scott's style a lot.  Teach me, Teacher.

The plan for the day was hoppers and small attractor dry flies but Scott's suggestion to drop a simple stonefly nymph off the back ended up being genius as most of the trout we caught just couldn't pass up the dropper.  Scott did have a great eat on a dry fly to start the morning with a large brown trout coming up for breakfast but more times than not the stonefly was the choice of the day.







If there was something that I noticed with the two days that I fished Rock Creek Anglers private water access, is that the guides are very aware and mindful of everything related to the property.  Scott's focus through our day was the water temperature and made sure as we moved run to run that he was using his thermometer to see where we were at.

By early afternoon it was time to call it quits but that just meant that we circled back to the truck to enjoy a great lunch under the shade of the trees.  The ranch owner, a spry eighty something year old woman named "Honey" rode up on her four wheeler (after she had already been on horseback for several hours to check on the cattle) and talked with us for a bit.  A few minutes later her son spent over an hour talking about their property, the cattle, and how things had changed over the years but seemed to be circling back to more and more small independent ranches like they were running.















This was completely different country than the day before but no less impressive.  It's a little mind blowing to think about family ranch properties in terms of hundreds or even thousands of acres, and to have a quality trout stream following through it makes for a very special experience.

I had a great time with Scott and it was very evident how much he enjoys his summer job as a fly fishing guide.  It was also neat to put a glass fly rod in his hands and see him pick up several excellent trout while I played behind the lens.  

GEAR NOTES - I was looking for a good excuse to use the late prototype Thomas & Thomas Lotic 7'10" five weight that had been sent right before leaving on this trip and this day was a good one to run it through the paces.  The T&T Lotic was paired with a Douglas Outdoors Argus (non-ported) fly reel and 406 Fly Lines Casting For Recovery 5WF fly line.

The Lotic casted wonderfully with the dry fly and but struggled just a bit with a hopper and heavy stonefly on long casts.  Understandable and I'd likely use a different fly line if I was going to hopper/dropper again.  Otherwise, the Lotic is an interesting departure from the Heirloom series of fly rods with a crisper action but still maintains a very fiberglass feel.  It will be interesting to see the final model listing and cosmetics for the Lotic fly rods as this late prototype was a Heirlom (green blank with maroon wraps) in disguise.

DELTA FORCE TROUT - Santa's Workshop

Delta Force Trout linked up with Frigate Adventure Travel for an amazing trip earlier this year to Christmas Island.  Add this to the list of places to go sooner than later.



Visit the Delta Force Trout website for the full trip report to go along with the video.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The B.I. Chronicles - The 'Merica Minnow

It seems that each summer while on Beaver Island a day gets written off for weather and Captain Steve Martinez of Indigo Guide Service heads back to the apartment to knock out a few flies at the vise.  Steve is a notorious fly tinkerer and he snagged one of the patriotic pinwheels which lined their porch to use the flashy mylar for a quick pattern that he dubbed "The 'Merica Minnow"

This simple pattern consists of a streamer hook, a few layers and colors of craft fur, pinwheel mylar cut body shape, and eyes to make it look alive.























Thanks to Steve letting me stand beside him while he knocked out a few of these for the fly box taking photographs for this step by step.

We railed on the pike and smallmouth a few days before on this pattern, so we know it works.

Really well.

RIO Amateur Fly Fishing Film Awards

It's time to bust out the GoPro, DSLR, or smart phone and work on a submission for the RIO Amateur Fly Fishing Film Awards. There are some stellar prizes in the mix for the winners.



Visit the RIO Products website for the rules and into.  Submissions are already up on the website.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

EXPEDITION SERIES GIVEAWAY

It's always fun to see cool companies play nice together and even better when they all toss items of excellent gear into the pile for a giveaway.

Williams Knife Co. has linked up with Rep Your Water, Cheeky, and Wingo Belts for a prize package worth over $500 that's worth a look this weekend. 


It's easy to play.  Enter HERE.  The grand prize winner will be announced on September 9th, 2016.

THE FLY LIFE - WHERE IT STARTS

North 40 Fly Shop capturing a great story here.  Enjoy.



A deep rabbit hole of fly fishing videos of all sorts on the North 40 Fly Shop YouTube page.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Places With No Names - A Day In Hopper Heaven

There is no denying that I had a lot of excitement and anticipation built up for this trip to Wyoming with the Fly Shop of the Bighorns.  It didn't help that I had a couple of friends (Senyo and Schmidt, I'm talking about you two) who were both calling or sending text messages which further hyped me up about what I was about to see while spending a couple days on private ranch water access through Rock Creek Anglers.  They had both just returned from their annual trip to the area and knew what I was in for.  All I can say, and hopefully the dozen and a half images say it too, that this place certainly did not disappoint in any way.

Over the years, Rock Creek Anglers has been able to work out private access to select ranch properties near and around the Sheridan area and when I jumped in the truck with Guide Justin Gerard, he took me what has to be one of the crown jewels of the area.  Meadows and fields gave way to red rocks and canyons with tall buttes not too far off surrounding the steam that we would spend the day on.  


Along with a slender cold water trout stream that weaves it's way through meadow and canyon, this many thousand acre ranch is also home to significant Native American and early American west history.  Justin Gerard had done quite a bit of research on the area and it was so interesting to think back over the last several hundred years on what had happened on the ranch and in the nearby mountains as well.

After a long drive in, we stopped in a stand of old growth forest and geared up for a day on the water.  As we started walking towards the creek small hoppers flew up from the ground all around us and that set the tone for the morning and into the early afternoon.  Brown and rainbow trout were looking up and long careful casts near the undercuts and deep pools were often rewarded with a rise.
   
 


Even though it was a lot of fun to blind cast to all the likely spots, the most memorable moments of the day were when Justin would scout ahead and then call out what I needed to do and where I needed to present the fly.  Within minutes of walking to the water, Justin saw a larger rainbow slowly fining in the tailout of a long run and called it out.  I laid the cast well upstream of the trout which caused it to look up, follow the hopper with it's nose just under the surface, and as the fly was just about to float past, the trout turned back slowly to suck it in.  That more or less set the tone for the day and we enjoyed so many cool eats on hoppers.  This place was Heaven.   









We spent the morning working our way upsteam and only made fly changes when several trout would snub one hopper only to fall all over next.  By lunchtime we had made our way back to the truck and Justin set out chairs and brought out lunch in the shade.  It was a warm summer day but the tree shade and breeze made it quite comfortable.  Justin and I talked about more of the history of the area and what guide life is like and how he splits his time between the water and grooming ski slopes in Jackson through the winter. 

After lunch we started off where we left off and continued upstream to the canyon.  The cloudless afternoon kind of put the trout to bed but we still found a few just where you'd expect one to be.  Around every corner I continued to be impressed by the beauty of this property.  I had just as much fun handing over the fly rod to Justin and stepping back to take a few photographs.










By late afternoon it was time to circle back to the truck and Justin and I spent another hour or so just talking under the trees.  Even if the fishing was done for the day, I wasn't ready to leave.  This place was just that special.

GEAR NOTES - I tried to limit the number of fly rods and fly reels that I took along on this trip and only packed fly rods that I thought would be well suited for the type of water I'd be on.

The first half of the day I used the soon the be released Hardy Sirrus 7' 3/4 weight which was paired with the Hardy Marquis LWT fly reel and 406 Fly Lines four weight fly line.  I am excited about this new glass offering from Hardy and it has a slow and deep loading action.  It turned over an eight foot leader and hopper with no problem and the Marquis LWT is one very sweet clicker.

The second half of the day I put together the Swift Fly Fishing Epic 480 which was paired with a Abel Reels TR2 and Scientific Anglers Mastery Trout four weight fly line.  This is without a doubt one of my most favorite dry fly outfits and the guide couldn't put it down either.  I'm finding that the Epic fly rods are a great "first glass experience" for the guides that I fish with since the tapers are little quicker than they might first expect.  The Epic 480 is always near the top of my list of suggestions when someone is looking for an all around dry fly (and more) fly rod.