Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cold Weather Fly Fishing

Hey Everyone,

It's obvious to everyone that winter is here. Its even been rather cold here in southern Appalachia. With that being said, I thought I would share some tips on dressing and preparing your wader bag. Now I may be insulting the intelligence of some of you. However, having worked in the outdoor industry for several years has taught me that there are still plenty of people who don't know.

Lets start with layering. Some of you may have switched to neoprene waders by now and that is a good idea. However, if you are like me and prefer breathable waders you have to insulate them some how. I see a lot of guys who simply pull their waders over their jeans, but when its below freezing, you should consider a pair of fleece wader pants. Not only are they way more comfortable, but they are a much better insulator. If you pair these up with a nice pair of mid calf wool socks and you're good to go. I know everyone is a little different but I have fished in eleven degree weather with ice floating by with this setup.

Now for the top half. It's the general rule to start with a base layer of a synthetic material which will dry faster if it gets wet. I tend to ignore this rule and wear a t-shirt instead. The next layer is what I consider the warming layer. I prefer a nice thin fleece shirt as you will see me wearing in many of my fishing photos. I follow this with one of two outer shells if need be. On colder days in which there is little to no chance of rain I prefer a windproof fleece jacket. For those rainy days there is one item that no fly fisherman should be without, the wader jacket. The nice thing about layering is that you can wear any combination of these items to suit your needs. You can accessorize as you see fit with a beanie and or wool gloves. 

The wader bag.
When its this cold out it is a good idea to toss a few extra items into your wader bag as well. If you accidentally take a dip your going to be in real danger of hypothermia which could ruin your day of fishing. For that reason you should have extra change of of clothes starting with another pair of socks. If you happen to have a second pair of wader pants you should pack them as well. If not you can bring that pair of sweat pants that probably have the name of your favorite football team down the leg. Its not about looking cool if you have to change into them, its about getting warm. Don't forget another top. Perhaps the matching sweatshirt. Its also nice to have a warm lunch while on the water. That is why I like to toss one of my trusty old jet boils in the mix. Not only can you cook some Ramen, but if you need it you can make a hot cup of spiced cider in just under two minutes.

I know this may be redundant, but I hope that at least a few of you get something out of it. If anything, you might remember to pack that second pair of socks.

See you on the trail,

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Little Fishing With Doc

Hey Everyone,

I had my first guide trip of the fall the other day. It turned outto be a perfect day to be on the water. I got to the river at about eight to scout out some potential spots, which didn't take me long, and waited for Dr. Chuck Balch to arrive. Doc has been practicing tenkara for about a year now and asked if I could show him some more techniques and tricks with tenkara. We started the morning with a small Kebari and worked on a couple methods with it. I noticed that the trout really didn't want anything under the surface which seemed to be a consistent trend thought the day. Instead they were actively popping the
surface. I asked Doc if he had tried much dry fly fishing with tenkara and he stated that he hadn't. Having another rod with me I decided to tie on a small yellow caddis and showed him a dead drift into a skitter technique. Well when a brookie came up and almost crushed the caddis on the skitter it didn't take much more convincing for either of us. Doc took the rod and almost immediately hooked a trout on the skitter. He was more than impressed with the method. He hooked several fish and I think had just as much fun teasing the fish and watching them miss as he did when he would hook one. I think you could probably do a skitter if you had a long nymphing rod but I truly believe that nothing will allow you to control the fly quite like tenkara. I really like what tenkara has brought to the sport of fly fishing. Tenkara may not be the right tool for every type of fishing but sometimes there is nothing better. I'm happy to have had the chance to spend the day with Doc and tech him a few more techniques which I'm sure he will use on his future tenkara adventures.

See you on the trail,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What They Look Like - Trico

Hey Everyone,

With the weather cooling down and the rain finally subsiding, the fall fly fishing season just around the corner, and I'm sure you all are ready to get back up to those trout streams. The trout will be starting to fatten up for the winter and Brown and Brook trout will be feeding heavily to get ready for the spawn. The question is what are those trout feeding on? Everyone knows about the plentiful spring hatches but most forget about the few insects that hatch into the fall months. One of those insects is the small Trico mayfly, Tricorythodes Stygiatus to be exact. These little olive colored mayflies are one of the few mayflies that can hatch into October. Because of this many people mistake it for the blue winged olive. While BWO's are small as well, they don't get much smaller than a size 18. However, the smaller Trico can be as small as 28. Male Tricos emerge throughout the night and are not known to be important as duns. They molt into spinners and await the hatching of their mates. The little olive females emerge in the morning. In the summer this happens at first light, but it occurs later in the day as the weather cools down. Female duns can be important to trout, as can the nymphs as they rise to emerge. The female emergence can be fun to fish, but its action rarely compares to the spinner fall.
Tricos return as spinners soon after emerging, sometimes within a few minutes and sometimes a few hours. There is a widespread misconception that Trico duns molt into spinners in mid-air. This is physically impossible. Tricos must land to molt, but some of them take off again before the dun shuck has completely detached from their tails. This give the impression of a mid-air molt The mating spinners gather in very tight swarms rather than roaming the full width of the river.
After mating, the males fall spent and the females fly to shore to rest while squeezing little green balls of eggs from their abdomens. They return in about half an hour and fall on the water to drop the eggs. Just remember that when imitating this little mayfly, getting the hook size right can be very important.
Next time you're on the stream you will be able to recognize these little guys (and girls) and will get to enjoy some crazy small dry fly action. Who knows you may join the ranks of the 24 / 24 club.

See you on the trail,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Catch and ?

Hey Everyone,

I talk to a lot of fisherman everyday. Everyone knows that I am a die hard fly fisherman and although you can fly fish for just about anything, I do talk about trout fishing a lot. One of the things that I hear all the time from catch and keep guys is "well after being caught trout will die anyhow". I always try to explain the facts to them. Although I don't really think what I say is going to change the way they fish anyhow. I almost always catch and release as keeping fish is not the reason that I'm out there. However, I am not against some trout cooked over a campfire. Here is a really well written blog article that kinda argues for both sides Is Catch and Release Over Hyped. If you're a catch and release fisherman and want to know more, here is some really cool info that I have collected from various sources on the subject of practicing catch and release and why mortalities occur and how to help prevent them.

Fish that are caught and released may die for several reasons, but the two primary causes are stress and wounding. Stress results from the fish fighting after being hooked. Internally, the physical exertion causes an oxygen deficit in the tissues, forcing the muscles to function anaerobically (without oxygen). This causes lactic acid to build up in the muscle tissue, and then to diffuse into the blood. Lactic acid acts as an acid in the blood, causing the pH of the blood to drop. Even slight changes in pH can cause major disruptions of the metabolic processes, ultimately killing the fish. If the fish is quickly released, its blood pH usually returns to normal and the fish will be unaffected. Some fish, after a long tow, may appear to live once released, but the imbalance in the blood chemistry may kill them as late as three days after being caught. In most cases, the means of preventing this type of mortality is to not keep the fish in action for a long period of time, unless the intent is to keep it.
The other primary cause of mortality is wounding by the hook. Injuries caused by hooks can range from very minor to lethal. The degree of injury is dependent on the location of the hook wound. Higher mortalities will occur in fish that are hooked in the gill or stomach areas, while lower mortality's occur in fish that are hooked in the lip, jaw, or cheek areas. Baited hooks are more likely to result in a gill or stomach hooking that artificial lures. Treble hooks, for obvious reasons, will result in more puncture wounds and subsequently higher mortalities. Barbless hooks facilitate release and decrease "out-of-water" time, but for reasons yet unclear, may not significantly reduce mortality, especially when used with bait.
There are other kinds of physiological stress that can lead to higher mortality's in released fish. Fish may not be able to adjust to changes in pressure or to higher surface water temperatures. Also, when a fish is handled or comes in contact with dry surfaces, such as landing nets or dry hands, its mucous layers – commonly called slime layers – may be partially removed, presenting an opportunity for bacteria or pathogens to invade the skin.
How to prevent fish mortalities

  • handle fish as little as possible and release them quickly - do not fight fish to exhaustion
  • minimize or eliminate the time fish are out of the water - as little as 30 seconds of air exposure causes delayed mortality of released trout
  • consider using only artificial lures - their use is mandatory on some waters
  • use barbless hooks if you plan to release most of the fish you catch
  • when a fish is deeply hooked, do not try to remove the hook - clip the leader instead
  • during the warm summer months when stream temperatures are elevated, do not fish for trout if you plan to release them - these fish are already stressed and additional handling may kill them
  • likewise, do not fish for trout in spring holes when water temperatures are in the mid 70s or higher (especially if you plan to release them)

I hope this sheds some light on the subject and helps you out.

See you on the trail,

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Return to Our Youth

Hey Everyone, 

It's warming up everywhere and with that water temperatures are rising as well. If you remember an older post I wrote it explained that when water temperature rises it ability to hold oxygen decreases. Water levels also drop (although this year has been a exception - understated I know) With that being said, its this time of year that I leave the cold water streams alone (unless they are at a reasonable altitude) and switch my focus to warm water titans. With all of the great trout fishing and feeling the powerful runs of steelhead its easy to forget how fun catching bream can be. I don't think there is any illusion as to how hard these little warm water titans can fight. Sure its fun to hook into a nice large or small mouth but bream are usually a bit more abundant and easier to catch. I also think that hooking a pumpkinseed or long ear reminds us of our youth. I would imagine that just about every one of us started our fishing passion with one of these little guys on the end of our line. Besides, spending the time sweating in the sun keeps your skills sharp for fall when the need to lay a dry fly just to the right of that rock is so much more important. I really hope that everyone finds the time to get out and spend a little time being a kid again.

See you on the trail,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Little Get Away

Hey Everyone,

I have been wanting to fish this stream for about a year now. It's very remote and not an easy steam to get to or even fish. I mentioned it to some friends of mine a few months back and they thought is sounded like a fun trip. I helped them get geared up for their first backpacking experience and let them know that nothing about it was going to be easy. It was a tough hike in and maybe a little more than they expected but in the end everyone made the climb in had a great time. We spent three days climbing boulders and fishing. I have rarely seen a river or stream with such a thriving population of brook trout. It was great fishing to say the least. Its rare now days to find a spot so untouched and wild and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to experience it. I hope you all enjoy the pictures although they truly do this beautiful area no justice. The fast riffles and steep grade made drifts hard to manage but with a long tenkara rod I was able to hold the fly in the soft water longer. Also being able to collapse the rod made it quite handy for climbing over the house sized rocks to the next hole. In fact is was working so well that by the end everyone had used it and it was unanimous that it was the perfect technique.
 The Crew

 Steven working a run while Jamie is way down in the lower pool
  A friend came to visit

I have several more photos but don't want to bore you with a excessively long post. Just thought you'd like to see some pretty country and untouched water. 

See you on the trail,

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Hey Everyone,

Its been a busy couple of weeks with all of the events that I've been attending. I have got to meet and hang out with bunch of really great people who are mostly all tenkara anglers. I have also had the chance to fish some amazing water. If you want to see some photos of day two of the summit here is link to some photos taken by a incredibly gifted photographer Justin Ide. Ive also attached a few photos from my trip to Cullowhee North Carolina to the Fly Fishing Festival where Jason Sparks and I were representing Tenkara USA. Day two of the event was a bit slow so when our hosting fly shop decided to pull stakes Jason and I jumped at the chance to do a little fishing in some of the waters on the NC fly fishing trail. Hope you enjoy the photos.

See you on the trail,

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tenkara Summit

Hey Everyone,

This weekend I will be at the tenkara summit in Harrisonburg Virginia. If you're a tenkara bum like me I hope to see you there.

See you on the trail,

Update - Tenkara Summit was a blast. A lot of bear drank, a lot of people, met, a lot of stories told, and a lot of fish caught. If you would like to see photos check out these amazing ones taken by Justin Ide. Tenkara Summit Day 2

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Golden Bonefish

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to remind you that Carp on the fly is just around the corner. I haven't seen them yet but they will begin their spawning runs into creeks and rivers starting next month and continuing through June. After that you will be able to see them feeding in the shallows out in the lakes. If you have a Canoe, Kayak, or shallow draft boat you will be able to sneak up on them. Its been a long winter and spring fishing those trout streams so try to remember to strip set and not trout set. I recommend using a 7 or 8 weight but if your crazy like me try a 5 weight as long as you have a solid reel and watch your drag scream!

See you on the trail,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

4 More Hooked On Tenkara

Hey everyone,

I've been quite busy lately introducing people to the world of tenkara. The fishing hasn't been the easiest that its been for me this year, but everyone is catching fish none the less. As a guide you get to watch other people and I've realized that the river means something different to everyone. I don't think I ever would ask, but It would be interesting to see what they are thinking. It's been a lot of fun not only catching some nice fish but getting to spend the day on the water with some great people. I look forward to see where else the water takes me.

See you on the trail,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fishing with Ray and Sonja

Hey Everyone,

Well I had the privilege of introducing two more people to the sport of tenkara. I met Ray at the store where he was looking for simple, small, and packable equipment for trout fishing in the back country. Well, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention tenkara to him. He was very intrigued so we set up a trip. I remembered his words "I want to get my wife hooked on it" that morning as I scouted some potential spots. Once they arrived I went over the simple setup and gave a quick casting lesson. I say quick because they both picked it up in about fifteen minutes. We geared up and headed to one of the spots that I had seen some trout holding. It wasn't long before I heard those famous words "I got one" as Ray pulled in a nice brookie to the net. It wasn't long before both of them had hooked up. I decided to work with Sonja a bit since she was left handed and was having to cast backhanded. I took it as a lesson as well since It helped me learn tricks for the next time I have a southpaw. I am happy to say that with very little instruction, Sonja was out-fishing her husband (which was the plan). I don't want to get too long winded but I want to add that at the end of the day Sonja came over to me and said "I'm hooked". It was a great day with two great people and if nothing else it was just a wonderful day to be on the water.

See you on the trail,

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bugs Are Drifters

Hey Everyone,

I am sitting here watching it rain outside and daydreaming about trout streams. I know that tomorrow a couple rivers will look like chocolate milk and be difficult to fish. However, I know of a few higher gradient streams which will stay fairly clear and if this were late spring or summer I might be excited. If you just thought to yourself "why", its all in the drift.

(Caution Potentially Boring Reading )

The drift of stream insects and other invertebrates refers to their downstream transport in stream currents. While stream invertebrates are very well adapted by whatever means to maintaining their position in running waters, it is to be expected that on occasion an individual will lose its hold and drift downstream. On other occasions the nymph may be free swimming and just get caught up in a faster current. Another example would be a spider, ant, or grasshopper being washed into the stream by a heavy rain storm These are simple examples of why insects may be in the drift. There are actually four Major types of drift. Besides boring you with a long writen out explanation of each type, I figured I would just make another easy to read chart.

Catastrophic Drift : Occurs only when floods wash insects into the water or stir them up from there substrate. Or, droughts, or chemical spills occur and force insects to escape and area. This would also include terrestrial insects getting washed into rivers during a rain storm.

Behavioral Drift: A daily activity used by many aquatic insects and small fish to find new food sources, uncrowded habitat, or avoid predators.

Emergence Drift: Occurs when a mature nymph or pupae leave the stream bottom and drift in the current to the surface for adult emergence.

Surface Drift: Occurs only when adult insects emerge on the surface or when they return to lay eggs.

(There is one occasion that is a combination of emergence and surface drift. It is when the female of some species of caddis must swim back to the bottom of the river to lay her eggs).

With that being said, some species are much more likely to to be in the drift than others. An example of this would be a stone-cased caddis larvae which is not very mobile and unlikely to be caught in the current. On the opposite end a mayfly species like a blue-winged olive that swims quite well often end up in the drift. Here is a really cool chart that was made by some biologist after studying a stream in Oregon. If you look at the two most common species they both live just about everywhere in the US. It really makes you consider what you should tie on during periods of peak drift.

Insect                                                                                      % of total collected in the drift

Mayfly (Baetis)                                                                              18%
Mayfly (Centroptilum)                                                                   3%
Mayfly (Paraleptophlebia)                                                             2%
Stonefly (Sweltsa)                                                                          2%
Stonefly (Calineuria Californica)                                                   1%
Diptera (Chironomidae Larvae)                                                     29%
Diptera (Chironomidae Pupae)                                                      6%
Diptera (Chironomidae Adults)                                                     6%
Water Mites                                                                                    7%
Copepods                                                                                        7%

Although some behavioral drift occurs all of the time there are actually periods of peak drift. The first period starts roughly and hour before and continues until an hour after sunrise. The second peak is roughly from an hour before and extends to an hour after sun set. The third peak is in the middle of the night from approximately midnight to two a.m. These periods of drift have been found to be fairly consistent throughout the year with only slight differences from day to day caused by weather and temperature. This could be the scientific reasoning why most anglers like to fish early mornings and just before dusk.

There is also peak times of emergence drift. In fall, winter, and early spring, is is usually mid day from about eleven a.m. to three p.m. During the summer however most emergence drifts happen in early morning and evening with a few species emerging at night.

I hope that if you read through this I didn't make it too boring. There is a lot more info on this subject but I don't want get crazy on a blog post. I hope that you found this information useful and apply it next time you are on the stream.

See you on the trail,


Monday, March 4, 2013

Where Fish Stories Come From

Hey Everyone,

Well I'm not sure how to start this post other than to say that I have had two awesome days on the water over the past weekend. I started with a trip to the river on Friday. I met up with Jason and his neighbor Richard. It was a rather neat experience. I went down river to check on a few sites for a guide trip that you will read about in a minute. It just so happened that the hatchery truck was on the river then as well. I have been fly fishing since I was eight and I have been guiding for a few years and have never once seen this process in person. It was really cool to see massive net fulls of fish being put in the river. It was also nice to talk to the two gentlemen doing the stocking. I walked along the river spotting small schools of fish. Later on I met back up with Jason and pointed him to some fish I had seen in a small quick run. It turned out to be a great little spot and Jason managed to pull a few nice trout from that spot. Here are a few photos of Jason in action.

This brings us to Sunday. I had some friends, Jamie and Steve, ask me to put them on some fish Saturday night. So we set up a trip for the next day. It was kind of last minute so I thought I would take them to a spot that usually holds good fish. I hate to brag and say that I was right on so I'll let the photos do the talking. I should also mention that Steve had never caught a trout on a fly rod before this day.

I was happy to see these guys hooking up. I'm not sure how many fish were caught but Steve said he lost count at 44. Both of the guys hooked fish around 18 inches and Jamie managed to hook in to this monster. It was the largest fish Ive seen come out of that river. I estimate it was around 24 to 26 inches.

It was an epic day on the river.

See you on the trial,

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tenkara Summit 2013

Hey Everyone,

I'm sure that most of you have seen this on facebook or Tenkara USA's website, but I thought I, as a tenkara guide should post this on here and help spread the word. This should be a fun tenkara filled weekend.

Heres a link to register if you haven't already. I hope to see you there.
Register Here

See you on the trail,