Sunday, October 25, 2009

Late Fall Action

I live in southeast Nebraska where daytime temperatures the last couple of weeks have been in the 40s and 50s and one morning light snow covered the ground. Many fly fishermen have put their rods, reels and other gear away for the year. Too bad, they are missing the chance to enjoy late season catches of largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie.

I’ve found farm ponds and reservoirs often provide fly-fishing for bass and panfish until they ice over. All the fly angler has to do is change tactics to be successful when cold-water fishing.

I’ve found the following to be useful for catching bass and crappie in the fall:
– lightly-weighted minnow-imitating flies in warmer shallow water areas
– more heavily-weighted minnow-imitating flies in deeper water areas
– dark-colored flies a size or two larger than used in spring or summer fishing
– flies with weed guards for fishing in or near areas of dead or dying vegetation
– floating, sink-tip or sinking fly lines to keep the flies at desired depths during the retrieve
– slower retrieves than I’d use in warmer water

I like to use weighted wet flies for late fall bluegill fishing and often choose a fly a size or two larger than I’d use in the spring or summer.

A few of the flies I’d recommend for late fall fishing are:
Largemouth bass – Woolly Bugger, Woolhead Minnow, Marabou Sculpin, Marabou Minnow
Crappie – Super Silver Minnow, Mickey Finn, Black Ghost, Marabou Minnow
Bluegill – Improved McGinty, Black Gnat, Lightning Bug, Leadwing Coachman

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Howdy, let's talk about fly fishing

I know what you’re thinking, "Why a blog about warmwater fly-fishing?" Right?

I realize that most people associate the term "fly-fishing" with fly-fishing for trout – primarily brook, brown and rainbow -- but that definition is far too narrow, fly-fishing is so much more than that.

I don’t mean to take anything away from trout, but the fact is, most people don’t live within easy driving distance of a trout stream, and with the present state of the economy, not many people can afford to travel to trout fishing areas as often as they’d like.

On the other hand, most people do live within a short drive of a pond, lake, reservoir, river or stream where they can fly-fish for a variety of warmwater species that are just as much fun to catch as trout, many of which grow much larger than trout and are just as enjoyable or better at the table.

Depending on where you live, a list of the warmwater species available to you will probably include all or some of these species -- largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, white bass, striped bass/white bass hybrids (wipers), buffalo, common carp, freshwater drum, black crappie, white crappie, muskellunge, northern pike, tiger musky, grass pickerel, chain pickerel, yellow perch, sauger, walleye, saugeye, bluegill, green sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish, pumpkinseed, redear sunfish, rock bass and maybe some others. All of these species provide exciting action when taken on fly-fishing equipment and flies.

I have been tying flies and fly-fishing since the early 1960s. I live in southeast Nebraska, not an area rated among the top fishing destinations in the country, or even the Midwest. But, although I have fished in different areas of the country, now I rarely travel more than an hour from my front door to fish, I have taken most of the species mentioned above on flies produced at my tying desk and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every catch and every outing.

I love to fly-fish and it makes a lot more sense to me to take advantage of what I can catch close to home whenever I can get away, than to wait and use my fly-fishing gear only a couple of weeks a year when I might be able to vacation some place where there are trout.

I like to eat most of the legal fish I catch. I know many anglers who practice only catch-and-release fishing and I think that’s fine if that’s what they want to do, but I know that the bag and size limits imposed by state game and fish agencies are made with an eye toward the realization that many of the fish taken will be consumed by anglers and their families. We shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping and consuming at least some of the fish we catch if we abide by those regulations.

I spend a lot of time tying flies to catch warmwater species, a lot of time in and on the water pursuing those species and a lot of time just enjoying being outdoors. If you frequent this blog you’ll find my thoughts about those same things – tying flies for specific species, techniques for fishing those flies, the fly-fishing equipment I like to use in various situations and why, how I fish different kinds of water, cover and structure at different times of the year, and some information on how I like to clean and preserve fish, my cooking methods and my favorite recipes. Along the way there will probably be some other stuff too, and it will all be related to fly-tying and fly-fishing.

If any of this interests you I hope you’ll stop by whenever you have time. If you have suggestions, criticisms or comments, I welcome hearing from you. There’s no one way to do anything in fly-tying and fly-fishing, but I think there are some ways that are better than others. I hope by talking about the way I do things other people will tell me about what they do and how they do things and why. Heck, nobody knows it all -- least of all, me – so I hope I can learn something from everyone who drops by.

And, in particular, I hope to hear from you soon.