"The Dance" -- Fly Fishing the Gulf

Fly Fishing --- a well orchestrated dance between the fish and the fisherman.   Using the rod as the conductor’s baton, the fisherman rhythmically entices the fish.  Fly Fishing is more an art than sport.  You are hunting and luring the fish.  You are enticing the fish to eat.  Presentation is everything.  It takes patience and study, waiting for the perfect moment.   Yes, all this is true in sport fishing yet; the presentation in fly fishing takes harmony of balance, rhythm, and motion.

When we think of fly fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is Brad Pitt’s character in “A River Runs Through It.”  Standing in swift running freshwater streams, we watched the line dance through the air as he gracefully lured in the trout.

So… when we think about fly fishing, we see a cool mountain stream, surrounded by towering trees with trout jumping after bugs…Or maybe… let’s see…. How about South Padre Island.   REALLY?  You fly fish in saltwater?  Is that even possible?  Answer:  Yes.  It is not only possible it takes fishing for the Gulf’s inshore fish to another level.

South Padre Island has several professional fishing shops that carry fly fishing rigs and plenty of expertise.  Roy Lopez at Bass Pro Shops is one of these avid fly fishermen.  He has found a way to marry his love of fly fishing with his love of saltwater fishing.   I came into the White River Fly Shop specifically looking to get my husband started in a sport that he has wanted to do for years.  Here’s what I learned.

What are you fishing for off the shores of South Padre?

Tarpon have a natural migrating pattern from Florida and the Yucatan Peninsula.  Their arrival at South Padre is still a mystery.  They seem to follow the Gulf Coast.   The tide dictates feeding patterns and their location.   According to the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, the migrations take the tarpon up the eastern coast of the U.S. to at least the Chesapeake Bay, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and southward to the Caribbean Sea.


Tarpon are fished for sport.  Roy says, “I wait all year for the tarpon to come back around in the annual migration.  I put the time in to find out their patterns and eating habits.  I have respect for the fish.  They travel from Florida and the Yucatan to get to Padre. “


But there is more than Tarpon off of South Padre’s shores.  Fishing Kingfish, Red Fish, Speckled Trout, Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackerel and Bonita can all be found on the surf or jetties during ideal summer weather conditions. They can be found off the Gulf Coast year round.  Typically flashy, obnoxious flies in loud colors with a wire tippit can be used to entice these toothy fish to bite


South Padre offers wading from the East Side sand flats to the West Side silt and estuaries.   Fishing from the rocks or in the water, we use different tools for different fish.  Consider the rig.

Roy generally ties his own flies, but has a few that he might use if needed.  The picture shows four of the possibilities.  A) Tarpon Toad –  Premier Tarpon Fly.   B)  Red Fish Toad – great fly for south Texas red fish and trout.  C)  Merkin Crab – another red fish fly typically used when red fish aren’t feeding, generally the fall months.  D)  Sea Ducer – fly that you would use in shallow water from 5 to 15 inches of water.  It has a real soft lay down. 


9’ 8-weight rod typically with a stiff backbone to punch heavy flies through the wind (we have horrible prevailing south winds that don’t let up) for red fish, trout, flounder and any other species you’d find inshore. http://www.basspro.com/World-Wide-Sportsman-Gold-Cup-Fly-Rods/product/13082906212339/

9’ 10-weight rod with heavy backbone to punch flies for bigger fish from the beach or jetties – kings, Jacks, Spanish mackerel.

Inshore reel doesn’t necessarily have to be top dollar.  It needs a sealed drag system and is tolerable to the salt.  Roy suggests:  Lamson Konic/Guru and any of the Sage line-ups from the 1800 series to the 2200 series.  They retail anywhere from $150 to $185. http://www.basspro.com/Lamson-Konic-II-Fly-Reels/product/1209270507043/



10-weight series – you are dealing with bigger fish.  You need a reel with stouter drag.  The Lamson offers the Konic/Guru 4 and Sage 2210 ranging anywhere from $150 to $250 for catching these bigger fish.

Your line in the inshore scene will typically consist of a weight forward floating line that can be matched to a rod.  The line is dictated by the rod or the casting preference of the fisherman.   Bass Pro Shops can typically fit the fisherman with an ideal rig to fit his/her preferences.  This is true for the 8-weight or the 10-weight.

Recently, Roy hooked a tarpon of about 5 feet/100+ pounds and watched it swim away after breaking the line.  With a smile, he remembered the “dance” and walked away satisfied.   Ok… maybe a little disappointed.


Fly Fishing Basics

Here we are again, right in the middle of summer.  Temperatures in July and August are only going to continue to rise. Some folks call these the "dog days of summer," but I call them a perfect time to cool off and catch fish. Now is a great time to go stand thigh deep in some ice cold water and catch some decent size rainbow trout. The Lower Mountain Fork River wanders through the rolling hills of southeast Oklahoma just outside of Idabel providing both Oklahomans and Texans a great fishery and a prime place to cool off.  Its waters flow from the deepest part of the dam that forms Broken Bow Lake at Beavers Bend State Park. The water is re-oxygenated and sent downstream. The cold, oxygen-rich water not only supports the rainbow population, it plays an integral part in creating a habitat where the fish can actually procreate and grow.

 I'd suggest a pair of White River waders and wading boots because that water is just too dad burn cold to stay in for more than a few minutes. The reason for the wading boots is that regular tennis shoes aren't made to grip the bottom and you could end up "floating your hat" as they say.

 Here are a few more good tips for your trip. If you have never fly fished before then by all means take advantage of Bass Pro Shops of Garland FREE fly casting seminars on Saturday or Sunday at 11:30 a.m. or both! The pros in the White River Fly Shop can introduce you to the basic cast and familiarize you with any of the terminology your may have heard associated with your new sport. Come in and enjoy the camaraderie in a fun and relaxing atmosphere. You don't need to bring anything; we have all the equipment you'll need for the class.

 All of your White River Fly Shop associates have fished the Lower Mountain Fork and most of us will agree that if you had to pick just one fly rod to take it would be an 8 ft. 6inch 5 weight rod with matching floating line. If, however, you have numerous rods to pick from, perhaps an 8-foot 4 weight but I don't recommend much lighter weight than that because there are some "hosses" in the river. Whatever your rod situation, we have something to fit your needs and your pocket.

 Your White River Fly Shop also has the hot flies for the area. Word to the wise: Get some flies before you go! If you're an early riser you might be at a loss for flies if you wait on the local shops to open. Some flies to add to your fly box before you leave are the Y2K bug, a few size 20 red zebra midges, flashback hare's ear in size 16 and smaller and a couple of pink San Juan worms will work well especially after a rain.  For those who prefer a dry fly, we suggest size 18 caddis flies in black, green or tan. From time to time the best dry fly is the blue winged olive in about a size 20, and don't forget your dry fly floatant to keep your flies afloat and the fish afraid.

 We look forward to helping you beat the heat by getting to your favorite cool trout stream. Whether you're a novice, a seasoned veteran or are just getting re-introduced to the sport, come on in to the White Rive Fly Shop of Garland and see why we call it your fly shop....oh, and don't forget your net... you're going to need it!




White River Fly Shop

The big annual brown drake hatch that hundreds of fly fishers look forward to every June is in full swing but beginning to wind down. Successful fly anglers looking to hook that large rainbow or salmon have learned to fish over deeper water off shore and look for cruising or "porpoising"  fish. Anglers fishing closer to shore are more likely to hook rock bass, smallmouth bass or perch but few trout and salmon.While most hatching activity begins around 8:00 in the evening don't overlook the early morning.Trout and salmon can often be found scooping up dead spinners and cripples between daybreak and 7:30 am over deep water. Look for this hatch to end around July 4th and the larger Hexagenia regida hatch to begin. This hatch will be prolific for about 3 wks.  

If you are looking for the perfect rod/reel combo to do this with we have several. Our Hobbs Creek 9ft. 5 and 6 wt. combos are equipped with a large arbor reel , floating line 100yards of backing and are 4pc IM6 graphite with a case. A great value and outfit for under $150.00. Come in and check them out anytime. We have several other brands of rods and reels in stock and available to cast as well.

Mike DeTomaso

Fly Shop Team Leader


Born Again

By: Todd Sanders and Rod Slings, Guest Bloggers

Introductory note by Rod Slings, hunting safety expert, retired Iowa DNR law enforcement supervisor, and member of the Central Iowa Longbeards Chapter.

Todd Sanders was a very active outdoorsman who was injured in October 2013, when he fell from his treestand. Todd spent three months in the hospital after his injuries. He is wheelchair bound…for now. Our National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter's Wheelin’ Sportsman hunt took place the Saturday of Easter weekend. Todd has recently faced some major challenges in his personal life, aside from the physical injuries he sustained from his fall. Todd has a strong faith in God; Todd’s story below brought him back from a place that would challenge anyone. We are honored to open the door to the great outdoors for Todd and others with the help of our sponsors, volunteers and the NWTF.

Born Again

By: Todd Sanders

April 19, 2014, was a very special hunt I was invited to by a good friend, Rod Slings, who is a retired law enforcement supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The hunt was the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen Wild Turkey Hunt put on by the Central Iowa Longbeards Chapter. This was the 7th annual hunt intended for disabled veterans and people that face some disability challenges.

To say that I was excited was an understatement, as Rod and I texted back and forth the final week before this awesome day! After what seemed like a sleepless night, my alarm sounded off at 2:00 a.m. I gathered my gear and Rod met me at my house at 3:30 a.m. to pick me up. 

Butterflies and sweaty palms accompanied me as we drove to Jester Park, where our hunt would be based, smiling like two young kids. I was able to meet all the great people who made this event happen. We gathered for a wonderful breakfast and a prayer to give thanks and asked for safety for the hunt. I was loaded into a Kubota UTV and soon Rod and I, along with my new friend Zach, were dropped off at the site where our blind was set up and ready. Within ten minutes of the park rangers and event volunteers leaving our location, I suddenly heard my favorite sound in the world! There it was - “GOBBLE-GOBBLE-GOBBLE” - about 100 yards away in the timber behind us. 

We all looked at each other with smiles and big wide-open eyes like children in a candy store. As the morning sunrise broke through the timber, we all started calling, nice and easy. This big tom apparently liked what he was hearing.

Rod said, “Breathe, Todd, breathe!” 

I smiled and gripped my bow tighter. Well, as all you turkey hunters know, gobblers are incredibly unpredictable. We heard the gobbler fly down from his roost and then…he went AWAY from us! A sassy hen was answering our calls. As I used the diaphragm call, Zach did the box call, and Rod followed with calls on his slate.

Suddenly, another gobbler, not far away, got very fired up from our calls - we probably sounded like a Sunday choir. This gobbler started responding back, getting closer and closer. Then, the hen passed five yards behind the blind to my left.   Minutes later we heard a very loud "GOBBLE." As I looked over Rod’s left shoulder, the majestic gobbler appeared, all tail feathers fanned out, about 65 yards away in the hardwood timber. 

I whispered, “There he is, I see him over Rod’s left shoulder, he’s looking this way.” 

My heart was pounding as the gobbler disappeared. Now he was circling us, trying to get a visual of those sweetheart hen noises that fired him up.

Zach said, “don’t move there he is!” 

Well, naturally, I moved and looked through the window near Rod. I saw a big blue head weaving through the brRod Slings and Todd Sandersush and briars. 

Zack whispered, “Draw back, draw back!”

As I did, he slipped right past the hunting blind window, my first shooting lane, on a beeline to the Jake decoy. As I regained my composure, Rod and Zach coached me. I did two sharp cuts on my diaphragm call - the gobbler stopped and turned. He was at 22 yards, quartering away, bumping up against the Jake decoy. I steadied my 20-yard pin on my bow sight behind the back of his wing and touched the release to see feathers immediately fly as the big gobbler flipped upside down!

Within seconds, the big tom was up running directly toward our blind wobbling like a drunken old man. 

I yelled, “GET HIM, GET HIM,” as the big bird took off into the timber. Zach desperately tried to open the zipper on the back of the blind by my wheelchair.  Imagine this - I am on the edge of my seat in my wheelchair in the blind,and I am now watching Rod and Zach go running into the timber out of sight. All I could hear were branches breaking and wings beating the dry leaves, but couldn’t see anything!  

I yelled, “Did you get him?” 

"YES!" Zach yelled back.

I screamed and hollered like a crazy man! Rod and Zach came back off the ridge, Zach holding my gobbler by the leg. Zach said, “Man, could you have shot a smaller turkey?” 

I couldn’t believe the size of the big gobbler as it was dropped at my feet. We yelled, hugged, high-fived and thanked Jesus, like we had just won the World Series. Rod called the park rangers and said, “Gobbler down, head this way.”

When the rangers arrived, we took pictures, again slapped high fives and celebrated this awesome hunt. After arriving back to Jester Park, our base for the hunt, we found out that two of the other hunters had also harvested birds. We shared fellowship over lunch, took more pictures, and relived and shared the story of our hunt over and over. 

This hunt was a real blessing to me having just recovered from a bow hunting accident where I fell from my treestand and broke my back leaving me wheelchair bound. This hunt gave me strength, hope and faith that my best days are still ahead of me!  I look forward to next year and thank God daily for this wonderful hunt that will be engraved in our spirits forever!  A very special thanks to Rod Slings who invited me to this event allowing me to harvest my best turkey to date!  25 pounds, 14 ounces with a 10-¾ inch beard and one inch spurs! 


Zach, Todd, and Rod

(Zach, Todd, and Rod)


Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 2

Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 2

by Captain Jim Barr

of www.skinnywaterchartersri.com

Go Barefoot in the Boat- If the weather/water is warm, going barefoot in the boat helps the angler to avoid stepping on their fly line. Footwear of any kind provides enough insulation to prevent you from being able to feel that you are stepping on your line. Many a cast has been ruined and a fish lost by a pinched line on deck.  Bare feet can also present a slipping hazard on a wet deck, so you be the judge. Alternatively use a stripping basket to hold your fly line. Also, remember to stretch your fly line, preferably before you board the boat, and if that's not possible or you forget, strip the fly line off the reel into the wake of the boat as you relocate. Water pressure applied to the fly line will stretch the line and remove any twists and coils. If you do not cast in a relatively straight plane, but have a circular or "oval" rod rotation, this will add twists to your line causing it to kink.

Fluorocarbon or Monofilament Leaders- I have a couple of simple rules on this subject.

1. First, I don't spend stupid money on monofilament and fluorocarbon tippet material. For fluorocarbon I buy "Vanish" manufactured by Berkley. For monofilament I buy "Berkley Trilene Big Game" in Clear.I buy spools of this quality line in different tests. For Fluorocarbon, typically 17 and 20 lb and for Big Game, typically spools in 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 lb. test. I tie my own tapered leaders thus the reason for buying multiple spools of different test. Ultraviolet rays combined with the effects of saltwater degrade these lines, so annually I throw out the leftover spools and buy fresh material.

2. When it comes to what lines to use. My simple rule is if I am using a floating fly line with a floating fly pattern because I want the fly to be on the surface or just below the surface, my leader and tippet system is made entirely of monofilament (nylon) line. On the other hand, if I am fishing deeper waters, particularly around cover such as heavy seaweed, ledge and boulders, the first four feet of my leader is 40lb monofilament, but the balance of the leader system is Fluorocarbon material. Fluorocarbon is nearly invisible under water and it is made of a heavier density copolymer... so it sinks. It's valued for its refractive index which is similar to that of water, making it less visible to fish. Mono floats/Fluro sinks- easy to remember.


Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 1

Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 1

by Captain Jim Barr

of www.skinnywaterchartersri.com

Hook Set- Many fly anglers new to the salt environment utilize the same fish striking (hook set) they do when striking a trout taking a dry fly. This is an overhead, high rod tip motion with the butt of the rod somewhere between the angler's waist and shoulder. If you use this technique when striking a saltwater fish (Stripers, Bluefish, Bonito and False Albacore to name a few), you're going to miss a lot of fish. The proper technique in saltwater is to keep your rod tip low to the water during your retrieve, and even putting the tip under the water's surface is perfectly acceptable. The retrieve has the fly line loosely pinched between the forefinger or middle finger (or both) of the rod-hand and the fly rod grip as the angler strips in line with the line-hand in a fashion that best imitates the swimming motion of the bait you are imitating. As the line is stripped over the fore-fingers of the rod hand the angler applies more pressure to the pinch point so that if the fish strikes the fly as the angler drops the line to pick it up again for the next strip- the line will stay tight helping to hook the fish. As the angler repeatedly strips line imitating the swimming motion of the bait, when the fish strikes the fly, the angler is in a position to "strip-strike" the fish keeping the rod tip low. The strip-strike has the angler pulling the line with force with the line-hand as he releases pressure at what was the pinch point on the rod-hand. The fly line will go tight immediately, and the rod will begin bouncing under the pressure and head-shaking action of the fish. Typically the hook is set in the fish's jaw, however it's perfectly acceptable to strip-strike the fish again with a good degree of force to "seat" the hook. The angler then raises the rod to play the fish.


Rod Positioning While Playing a Fish- After the angler has set the hook and is now playing the fish, care must be taken to land the fish. I see many anglers who engage in hand-to-hand combat, "fighting" the fish as if it's a 200 lb beast. It's unnecessary, and I typically coach new anglers engaged in this life and death struggle, to Relax. Yes, keep pressure on the fish, don't allow a slack line and when the fish wants to run, let it. If the fly reel drag is set properly, it will do the work of applying pressure and slowing the fish's run. Typically there is no need (except for the macho photo shot) to rear-back and bend the fly rod in half as you play the fish. The drag and the spring action of the fly rod will do the lion's share of the work. When the fish slows and you can turn it, do so, but keep a tight line and if the fish makes a run back to the boat as Bonito and Albies typically do, reel like a mad person to maintain a tight line/contact with the fish. If the fish pulls to the right, apply pressure to the left, and vice-versa- this will tire the fish more quickly. It's also OK to the turn the fish from side to side to tire it. Remember, for toothy fish, each time you reverse direction the leader is being pulled across the fish's teeth. In the case of Bluefish particularly, a steel leader should prevent being cut off.

Never put your line hand on the rod blank above the fly rod grip to apply additional leverage. A fly rod is meant to flex deep into the handle and putting pressure on the fish with your hand positioned on the blank above the grip may very well cause the rod to break. Additionally, try not to bring the butt of the rod above your waist while fighting a heavy fish. A high rod position exerts significant pressure (bend) on the tip section of the fly rod which may result in breakage.



What's the Best Knot for Tying Two Lines Together?

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staffer Rod Woten fielded this question from a Facebook fan. Here's his answer:

"If you’re talking about two similar-sized lines of similar material I prefer the surgeon’s knot. The blood knot would be my second favorite for this type of application. Examples would be adding tippet to the end of a fly line leader, adding a mono leader to a fluorocarbon mainline, or splicing additional line to a spool of monofilament.

If you’re talking about lines of differing size or material, I prefer the nail knot.  Examples of this use would be attaching fly line to backing and attaching leader to fly line.

The nail knot for the most part is fly fishing exclusive. However, the blood knot and surgeon’s knot have much wider ranging applications. They are ideal for tying mono to mono or mono to flouro.




What Makes a Fly?

This is a question as old as fly rods and folks sitting around the campfire with adult beverages, but you'd think that after all these years there would be some kind of consensus about what makes a fly, a fly.  Well sorry…nothing could be further from the truth.

I had a gentleman recently explain to me that he was going to throw small, pre-manufactured soft baits on his fly rod for snook in a few weeks, to which the anglers in attendance exclaimed “That’s not fly fishing!”  We all agreed that he had crossed some kind of line that bordered on sacrilegious, or at the very least, in very bad taste when it comes to angling in the spirit of the sport.  Lee Wulff would be spitting mad were he alive today.  Fly fishing isn’t always about catching the most fish possible, but rather about “How” you’re catching fish.  So what makes a fly, a fly?  Here’s the best I can come up with.

A fly might be defined as:

  • A lightweight fishing lure originally designed to be thrown in the traditional manner with a single or double handed fly rod.
  • Constructed by hand by attaching natural or synthetic materials to a single or multiple hooks using thread.
  • Designed to appeal to a fish’s senses of sight, hearing, or touch.
  • Instigates a purposeful strike out of hunger, aggression, or fear.
  • Hooks the fish in the mouth.

I realize that this won’t settle the longtime argument among flyfishermen as to whether or not a wet fly or nymph is actually “a fly,” but it fits the definition as best I can figure.  And many of our European customers look at what we throw for saltwater and can’t help but exclaim, “That’s not a proper fly!” but by definition, it is.  Our flies are designed to meet the above criteria and are specially suited to our fishing needs whether it’s the overall size, colors, weighting, or what it’s meant to imitate.

Now throwing a mass produced soft bait on your fly rod and calling it fly fishing….That aint Cricket!

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Bonsai and Fly Fishing?

BonsaiWhen I told one of my coworkers about wanting to write about the connection between the hobbies of raising bonsai trees and fly fishing he exclaimed “I don’t get it,” to which I exclaimed, “You’re kidding me, right?”  I thought it was obvious.

Well maybe not obvious, but it becomes much more so once you look at a culture that practices both with devotion and tradition, especially with the increasing popularity of a particular style of fly fishing.  The Japanese people have a long tradition of both fly fishing (a bit of a surprise to some people) and bonsai.  The discipline required to participate in both is similar and the patience you have to possess to enjoy success in either is daunting to some but the rewards can be extremely fulfilling.

Bonsai, the practice of growing miniatures trees in shallow pots, has been a part of Japanese and Chinese culture for hundreds, possibly thousands of years, and practitioners have created some of the most beautiful botanical wonders I’ve ever seen.  Formal upright, slanting, root over rock, broom, cascade, and group are but a few of the styles employed by growers to imitated naturally occurring trees in miniature form, and each one can take your breath away when done expertly.  The art of bonsai has always held a special place in my heart but until recently I never thought I had the ability to practice without killing tree, after tree, after tree.  Thanks to a family friend, some websites, and a few good books, I’ve learned just enough to be dangerous.  There are even bonsai clubs all over the world. Although it’ll take years and years to be considered anything but a novice, the result can be visually stunning and personally satisfying.

Now where does the fly fishing connection come in?  Tenkara of course.  Tenkara is a form of fly fishing originally practiced in Japan wherein the tackle is kept simple and to a minimum so much so that there isn’t a reel involved, just a telescopic rod approaching 14 feet long, a line, leader, and flies.  Even the flies are simple and somewhat rough looking versions of typical patterns.  Basic, uncluttered, and uncomplicated; those are the best words to describe this ancient, but recently revitalized, method of fly fishing.  There’s a time and place to use tenkara equipment just like any other method, so it isn’t for everyone or every location.  Small to medium trout streams are tailor made for this type of fishing so if you’re looking for a simpler way to go….Look into it.

So you see, there’s a definite connection between bonsai and fly fishing.  The Japanese culture has two totally different “hobbies” that can be much more than that.  They can be a way of life.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Are You Prepared for the Unexpected?

I got caught in the rain last night without my umbrella or a rain jacket. This incident made me think about my fishing trips this summer. Am I ready for the unexpected? I hope so, and maybe I can give you some tips to help you be prepared as well.

First of all, make sure you stay hydrated while you are outside. I know we hear about this all of the time on the news, in magazines, and numerous other places. Did you know that if you are thirsty that you are starting to dehydrate? Don’t just drink water while you are outside. Drink water the day and night before to start your body off with plenty of liquid. Take water with you and have some in your vehicle to sip on during your drive home. Why not take a hydration pack like the XPS 1.5 or 2.0 liter packs or a case of Bass Pro Spring water?

Secondly, what will you do if it begins to rain (like it did on me)? Do you have a good rain jacket, hat, and or a poncho? We have BPS ponchos for such emergencies. As always, if you are caught in a storm and it turns into thunder and lightning, seek shelter immediately. Long fly rods can turn into lightning rods and can be dangerous.

The opposite extreme is bright sunlight. Do you have a good hat with a wide brim? Your face, neck, and ears can sunburn easily so these areas need sunscreen and cover. The backs of your hands can also burn easily so sun gloves are another essential item. Skin cancer incidents in my family are high so I ALWAYS wear at least a 30 SPF sunscreen and I reapply it every 2 hours or so. But, wash your hands after applying it so that your flies will not smell and taste like sunscreen to the fish! Also, check the date on your sunscreen. If it is several years old, then it might be time for a new bottle.

Lastly, carry a small first aid kit with you. You never know when you might need it. Band-aids can not only be used for injuries but also temporary repairs on gear. Super glue can work wonders as well and is small and easy to carry. Be prepared and safe on your fishing outings. Don't forget to shop at Bass Pro for all your one stop shop outdoor needs!

Tight lines!


The Party Boat Option

Party Boat RailI know there are plenty of people out there that really enjoy fishing but for one reason or another don’t have access to a boat and are thus limited to fishing from shore and affixed structures like bridges and piers.  Well there are other options that can put some fish in the freezer if you want it or just provide a change of pace and a good time with friends or family.

The party boat fleets set sail from many of the east and west coast ports daily offering an inexpensive way to enjoy the saltwater fishing and possibly put a wonderful meal on the dinner table.  They provide the tackle (similar to the Penn Senetor/Slammer Rod Combo), licenses, bait, some food and drink (boat specific), and the assistance you need to land the big ones.  The deck hands constantly roam the boat lending a hand as needed when it comes to rigging, removing from the hooks and identifying the fish as they come across the rail, and in many cases, fish cleaning services upon reaching shore.  These guys bust their butts trying to make sure that everyone has a successful and safe trip.  The captains know the hottest fishing locations of the region so rest assured that fish will be landed, but keep in mind that it’s still fishing and many factors can determine the difference between success and failure.  Fishing is called fishing, not catching.Brittany and Black Sea Bass

My youngest daughter spent part of her tax refund to get us aboard a local party boat and we I just spent a wonderful Sunday fishing out of Port Canaveral.  She landed the only two fish between us, proving that I should pretty much stick to shallow water and fly rods.  It was a splendid day together talking, sunning, laughing, and playing with the bait, but conditions (full boat and screaming undersea currents) made the fishing tough for us and everyone aboard.  We enjoyed ourselves none the less  and rekindled our love of fishing together.

Give the party boats a try and you may just discover a simple, cost effective way to get some fresh fish; and enjoy the company of loved ones and fellow fishermen.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


I Got My Tail Kicked

White River Flyshop Newsletter

May 2014


I am sure most of you have had this experience—getting your 'tail kicked' by the person fishing downstream or upstream from you—but perhaps not, because you are such excellent fishermen that you 'always' catch the most fish.  For me, sometimes I am the windshield and sometimes I am the bug—said for you Mary Chapin Carpenter fans.   (If not a fan, google it and look it up.)

This last week, my wife and I walked into the cold water of Taneycomo to catch a few fish on our way home from Bull Shoals.  Wasn't suppose to rain—but of course it was!!   My wife is a novice—just two years of some experience on the stream.   I tied on what I hoped would be two great flies, and on my first cast I had a fish.  Wow!   Look at me, I am a hero!   However, things then slowed down.  Several casts later with the same flies and no fish.  What happened?

Then what appeared to be a beginner walked in just downstream of us.  Could hardly cast a fly.  Threw  his cast sidearm.  His casting was mediocre to say the least.  But then he proceeded to catch fish after fish.  He had no idea how to land a fish.  I was afraid he was going to break his rod several times as he bent it double getting fish off his fly and back into the water.  He caught a fish on 'almost' every drift.  The only reason I say 'almost', is that I had to watch my drift some of the time!!  He probably caught a fish on every drift!!

Meantime, with my superior skills and knowledge, my wife and I had only caught a few.   My wife was watching all of this.  After 42 years of marriage, my approval rating was dropping to that of a Congressman.

So being the noble person I am, I shouted downstream, “Man you are slaying them!”  “What are you using?”  This was said, in desperation, of course.  I didn't want my marriage to break up after 42 years.  He replied, “a maroon midge emerger”.  Immediately, as a guy, I am processing what in the world is the color maroon?  So I tied on, for my wife or course, the only maroon midge emerger I had.   Immediately she hooked up with a good fish.  After several minutes of fighting the fish it broke her line.  Obviously the fish wasn't concerned about saving the marriage.

Well, I struck up a conversation with the guy downstream.   He was great.  He had only been fly fishing for a year or so.  He was an experienced hunter and outdoorsmen but had not been fly fishing very long.  I looked at his equipment and it had all been purchased at Bass Pro.  His waders, his rod, and his reel.  That made me feel very good.   So I moseyed downstream and asked if I could look at his fly.   He said, “Of course.”  The fly had been hammered.  Not much left.  Just a small hook with about two turns of thread and a little dubbing.   His comment to his buddies was, “This is the best day I have ever had fishing.”  

While we don't always have all of the right answers, we want you to have your best day on the stream! Be sure to check out our free fly fishing classes and fly tying classes.  

Call 913-254-5200 and ask for the fly shop to schedule.


Fly Fishing: New Technique or Ancient Practice?

“They have planned a snare for the fish, and get the better of them by their fisherman’s craft…. They fasten red wool… round a hook, and fit on to the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in color are like wax. Then they throw their snare, and the fish, attracted and maddened by the color, comes straight at it, thinking from the pretty sight to gain a dainty mouthful; when, however, it opens its jaws, it is caught by the hook, and enjoys a bitter repast, a captive.”

Were these the words of an English country gentleman? Actually, they were credited to the Roman Claudius Aelianus near the end of the 2nd century as he described the practice of Macedonian anglers on the Astraeus  River. Other authors give credit to another Roman some two hundred years before Aelianus who wrote “who has not seen the scarus rise, decoyed and killed by fraudful flies…”

Great Britain

Other than a few fragmented references little was written on fly fishing in Great Britain until the late 1400s. The earliest English poetical treatise on Angling by John Dennys, said to have been a fishing companion of Shakespeare, was published in 1613. Imagine how a tragedy could have been averted had Shakespeare written these words instead of his more famous ones… “O Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou, Romeo?”  “I’m down here, Babe, but I’m going fishing with the guys”.

British fly fishing continued to develop in the 19th Century, with the emergence of fly fishing clubs and the appearance of several books on the subject of fly tying and fly fishing techniques. Dry-fly fishing gained an elitist reputation as the only acceptable method of fishing the slower, clearer rivers but to the horror of dry-fly purists, nymph and wet-fly techniques were developed and actually became more popular especially in Scotland and northern England. In Scandinavia and the United States, attitudes toward methods of fly fishing were not nearly as rigidly defined, and both dry- and wet-fly fishing were soon adapted to the conditions of those countries.


The traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing is known as “Tenkara”, which literally means “from heaven”. Tenkara is the only fly-fishing method in Japan that is defined by using a fly and casting technique where the line is what is actually being cast. Primarily a small-stream fishing method that was preferred for being highly efficient, where a long rod allowed the fisherman to place the fly where fish would be.

Another style of fishing in Japan is Ayu fishing. Fly fishing became popular with Japanese peasants from the twelfth century onward … fishing was promoted to a pastime worthy of Bushi (warriors), as part of an official policy to train the Bushi’s mind during peacetime. Ayu was practiced in the lowlands (foothills), where the Bushi resided while Tenkara was practiced in the mountainous regions.

North America

In the United States, fly anglers are thought to be the first anglers to have used artificial lures for bass fishing.  After using fly patterns and tackle designed for trout and salmon to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass, they began to adapt these patterns into specific bass flies. Many of these adaptations are still used today.

In the late 19th century, American anglers, such as Charles F. Orvis, continued to develop and distribute novel reel and fly designs. His 1874 fly reel was described by reel historians as the “benchmark of American reel design”, the first fully modern fly reel.

Participation in fly fishing peaked in the early 1920s in the eastern states of Maine and Vermont and in the Midwest in the spring creeks of Wisconsin. Along with deep sea fishing, Earnest Hemingway did much to popularize fly fishing through his works of fiction, including The Sun Also Rises. It was the development of inexpensive fiberglass rods, synthetic fly lines, and monofilament leaders, however, in the early 1950s, that revived the popularity of fly fishing, especially in the United States.

In recent years, interest in fly fishing has surged as baby boomers have discovered the sport. Movies such as Robert Redford’s film A River Runs Through It, starring Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt, cable fishing shows, and the emergence of a competitive fly casting circuit have added to the sport’s visibility.

S. Hardin                                                                                                                                                           

Little Rock



Facebook Q & A -Fly Fishing

It's another LIVE Facebook Q & A with Bass Pro Shops Altoona! Hop on your computer, tablet or smartphone and join us Friday, May 9, at 1 p.m.!

Fly fishing is one of the oldest forms of fishing - artful and often used for its therapeutic effects, too. Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff Fisherman Rod Woten says:

"Fly fishing has a rhythm that’s much slower than almost every other type of fishing.  From the cadence of the cast to achieving the perfect dead drift with your fly, it forces you to slow down and work through each step thoroughly and methodically. To those unaccustomed to fly fishing it seems like slow motion, but for those who practice the art, it’s therapy." 

Join Rod and Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fishing Lead/Fly fisherman Bryce Witt for our LIVE Facebook Q & A and find out what you need to know about fly fishing - how to get started, where to go, tips, and techniques!


Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fly Fishing Facebook Q & A

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Tweet us @bassproaltoona
Pin us @ pinterest.com/bpsaltoona
View us @ youtube.com/bassproshopsaltoona


What’s New in the Fly Shop at Bass Pro?!

It’s spring on the calendar,  even if I think I saw a snow flake or two on my way to work this afternoon.  Forsythia and tulips are starting to bloom, and a report of a lone nightcrawler was seen last week, frost must be leaving the ground!

Fly Tying Classes:

I’d like to invite anyone interested in fly tying to come in on Thursday nights at 6 PM  to learn to tie a fly.   We have the tables set up, materials and tools are provided so all you need to bring is some patience.  So far we’ve done The Improved Woolie Bugger, crawdads, extend body drake, and pink squirrels.  On the agenda will be pinhead poppers, clausers, damselflies, salmon patterns and tube flies.  

What to buy when you start tying?  First what fish are you going to catch?  Where are you fishing, the water conditions?  Then decide on the patterns that will be the most successful.  Learn 2 or 3 so there is a variety in the fly box and use different size hooks and colors of the same pattern.

Once you learn the basics, you can make just about anything! Over the last weeks we’ve explored the uses of copper wire from extension cords, nail polish, and plastic wrap.  

Fly Casting Classes:

Lew is back to host his popular fly casting classes again this year.  Lew is a certified casting instructor from the American Association of Fly Fishers, a standard that is recognized internationally.  We are lucky to have him teaching here.

If you want to attend, beginner or intermediate level, please call the shop 847 856 1229 and ask for Carol or Frank, if we’re not here, Tyler, Tim, or Bernie can help you out.  The dates  May 7 and 14, are already filled!!  However Lew will give more classes on May 21 and into June if we get sign ups.  We will need your full name and phone number and if you need a rod /reel.

Meet in the fly shop at 6, we set up your rod and reel (outfits)  for you; some participants like to use different weights and lengths that we have on hand.  Remember to dress for the weather, you’ll be outside, and near the nature viewing area, bug repellent is suggested.  If the weather is windy or lightening, class will be rescheduled.

Fishing Reports:

  • I've been hearing that the Root River in Racine is producing salmon,  however the fish are starting to turn dark.  Popular colors this year: black and purple.  Watch the water temperatures for when the fish will be most active.  Lake-link.com is recommended for you local conditions.
  • Blue gills are active on Delevan.  I saw a lot of guys out setting lines for catfish on the Fox River.
  • Southwest Wisconsin had a good snow melt and now with this week’s rain the streams will be in good shape.   I asked about tick season: ‘’It’ll be bad this year!”  so wear your waders and use repellent.

Trout Unlimited:

The SouthEast Wisconsin chapter hosted a river clean up near the Brewer’s Stadium this month.  Pulling out invasive wild garlic and taking trash out of the water was the objective.

Nationally they have a campaign to encourage more women to take up fly fishing.  See what they offer by visiting their web site: www.tu.org

Hoping to see you in the shop, tying a fly, or casting with Lew!

Carol and Frank


Everglades National Park

Few places truly embody what nonresidents envision when you mention Florida than the Everglades and The Everglades National Park, and I’ve finally been able to spend some time camping, hiking, and kayaking through the seemingly endless grasslands, the cypress forests, mangrove swamps, and marine grass flats of “The River of Grass.”

Head south through the city of Homestead, Florida that was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Andrew back in 1992, turn onto Highway 9336, and it won’t take long before you’re totally lost in a vast region of nothingness and limited cell signals.  There isn’t a better place to get away from everything and experience natural Florida the way it was when inhabited by only the indigenous tribes.  Just imagine what it was like for the original settlers, the Florida “Crackers,” when they carved their path across the state.  There isn’t much to maintain your ties to civilization after stepping off the concrete ribbon leading from the entrance gate to the Flamingo campgrounds.

The wildlife variety is absolutely amazing and for the bird watchers among us, there can’t be a better location to view a more varied species list.  Wood Stork, Osprey, Black Vulture, Turkey Buzzard, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Ibis, Limpkin, Swallowtail Kite, all manner of hawks, and water birds abound in the skies, the swamps, and grass fields.  Florida Panther, American Alligator, Crocodile, Whitetail Deer, Raccoon, Otter, Eastern Indigo Snake, and many others hide in plain sight, just off the trail’s edge, so watch your step.  The fishing can be quite spectacular in both the fresh and saltwater sections of the park so be sure to take a couple rods rigged for everything from bass and bluegill to redfish and tarpon.  The plant life including wild orchids is spectacular but much of it takes an adventurous heart to experience since you can’t see everything from a parking lot.


So take a trip south and experience what this state used to be like back in the days before computers, cell towers, high-rise hotels, and strip malls.  Commune with nature for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet of Everglades National Park.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Shad Fishing

by Grant Alvis

Living in the Richmond area, it’s only natural to have been exposed to the Shad fishery that the local rivers have to offer. Every spring the annual Shad Run sweeps through the tidal rivers of Virginia and the fun begins!  Once the water temperatures reach the mid to high 40’s the Shad begin appearing in Virginia's rivers. There are two primary species of shad, Hickory and the American Shad. The Hickory is the more prevalent of the two species and tends to appear first, usually around the 1 - 1.5 pound range. The Hickory is known for its speed and the acrobatic jumps they will be sure to perform as soon as they are hooked. This is what earned them the nickname “the poor man’s tarpon”. The American Shad usually appear one to two weeks later and they grow to a much larger size. It’s not uncommon for an eight plus pound American Shad to be caught each year. These fish are characterized by brute strength and long drawn out runs. Americans don’t tend to jump as much as Hickory Shad but the fights usually last much longer. The American Shad are illegal to possess in the state of Virginia due to their declining numbers in recent years, but they have begun to make a comeback. The Shad usually appear in the James River first, and then begin to show up further north in about 1 week increments.

There are a couple of different ways to target these exciting fish. The most popular way among anglers is with traditional spinning gear. A 5 – 6 foot light action rod with a 1500 – 2500 size reel spooled with 2 - 8 pound line is all that’s required for the setup. Make sure the rod has a fast action and that the reel has a smooth drag. The fast action rod allows for a better feel of the lure which is helpful when the fish aren’t hitting lures hard. The smooth drag allows the angler to handle the constant runs that the fish will make. The typical lures of choice for shad are shad darts and small colored spoons. The way I like to rig these are: Tie a shad dart/spoon under a barrel swivel with about 16 - 20 inches for a leader. Above the barrel swivel slide a 1/8oz. inline weight onto the main line and attach the mainline to the top of the swivel, then peg the egg weight to prevent it from sliding. This rig allows the fishermen enough weight to cast the lure, but it is still light enough to allow the bait to drift fairly naturally in the current. Make long cast across or directly down current and allow the rig to sink. Slow retrieves with the occasional twitch will trigger the strikes. Vary this retrieve until you find what is working that particular day.

Another popular way to target the Shad and my personal favorite is fly fishing. Anglers will need a 9 foot 5 - 8 weight rod with a large arbor reel to match. The large arbor is to allow you to fight the occasional fish that will take you into the reel on a run. The fly line is the most important part of the entire combo for shad fishing. In the James River in Richmond, I typically use a 24ft sink tip fly line. The sink tip usually weighing in at 250 grains. This fly line sinks around 7 - 9 inches per second which allows you to get down to where the shad are in the water column easily. Make medium to long length casts down and across the current. Allow the fly line to sink different amounts of time until you find where the fish are holding. Short quick continuous strips until you retrieve the fly all the way in. If you miss a fish keep stripping the fly in because they will usually hit twice. Once you find the depth the fish are holding, you can repeat the same process again and again and you should hook up every time. Eventually the school moves in the water column (usually deeper) and you will have to find them again.

Shad like to hold in different places throughout the rivers. The most common place to find shad is a current break. Wing damns, channel turns, islands, bridge pilings and obstructions on the bottom can all cause eddies in the current. These eddies are what the shad like to hold in because they can rest without having to swim constantly. Shad usually flood the rivers and you can catch them most anywhere during the spawn, but focusing on areas like these will give you the best chance. Tide is also a large player in shad fishing. Personally, I have always had better luck when the tide is moving. Shad don’t seem to prefer to move around much on a slack tide, and the best bite is usually right after the tide change. The Shad utilize the tide in their spawn as it helps them move up and down the rivers with ease.

In closing, these fish can be a blast to catch, and when the run is in full swing it is not uncommon to have 100+ fish days. Additionally, one of the best things about it is that you typically don’t have to break the bank in order to have a good time and catch a ton of these hard fighting fish. I hope this has given you a better understanding of Shad fishing and be sure to stop by Bass Pro Shops for all of your Shad fishing supplies!

I hope to see you on the water,


Grant is currently majoring in Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s been an avid fisherman since he was old enough to hold a rod!


Pictures That Spark A Memory

Easter Morning HookupSitting on a corner of the counter in the fly shop is an electronic picture screen upon which we run through pictures provided by our customers so they can share their successes and in some cases, such as in the case of partially eaten bonita, their failures.  First-time customers stop and watch them cycling through, commenting on the size of some fish, the expressions on the angler’s faces, and the beauty of the scenery, while at the same moment, they regale us with tales of their own.  We get to share the happening with each other and relive the ones we were fortunate to experience ourselves.

I sometimes get the chance to go through the pictures and daydream about the people I love, the fish I’ve landed, and the places I’ve visited over the last twenty years or so, and with each passing image, I can hear the water, smell the pungent air, or feel the warming rays of the sun falling on my shoulders.  It’s sure is amazing what a simple photograph can do!

One series of photos I’m lucky enough to have are those shot by a steelheading friend while we fished on the Rocky River in Ohio on a brisk Easter morning in 2010.  The day broke a bit foggy, but the air was crisp enough to remind me it was still just early spring.  As the sun rose above the valley rim, I thought to myself, this is exactly where I was meant to be on Easter Sunday, and even if I wasn’t blessed enough to hook a fish, I should count myself lucky to have been able to spend the time on the water with close friends while we pursued an amazing quarry surrounded by such perfect beauty.  I handed Luke my camera and asked him to take a few shots of me while I casted a bit since I’ve got a myriad of shots of other people fishing but none of myself.  Wouldn’t you know it?  I actually hooked a powerful Lake Erie Steelhead while he was taking pictures.  It fought with all the strength and stamina these fish are known for and when it finally gave in to my pressure and came to hand, it caused me to have a heart stopping moment of revelation.  This is why we spend so much time on the water, and if for some reason I had to hang up the fly rod, that wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.

Easter Morning SteelheadNow I relive that exact moment each time I see that fish in all its wild glory, frozen in time forever, even though he was released to fight another day.  Pictures taken while in the moment, whether good or bad, keep the memories fresh and vibrant so that when we need a reminder of times past, we need look no further than a photo album, or a computer screen.  So take as many pictures as possible to document your life and that of your loved ones, so you can share the experience with others and relive those precious moments when the time is right.

This Blog is dedicated to a close family friend who lost his son today after many years of illness and hardship.  He did everything he could for the young man during good times and bad, and would have continued to do so if their time together hadn’t been cut short.  I only hope that Tim has a voluminous library of photographs to thumb through when he needs a reminder of the good moments they had together.  Maybe they’ll take him back to those times and places so the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions they experienced flood back as if they occured only yesterday.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you my friend.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


FREE Fishing Seminars this Weekend, March 7th- March 9th!

Be sure to join us this weekend for our FREE FISHING SEMINARS with great tips from our Local Pros!!

Friday March 7th
7 PM "Flipping & Pitching for Bass" with Todd Gentzel

Saturday March 8th
11 AM "Walleye Techniques for Southern Waters" with Ron Lowry
12 PM "Fly Fishing for Bass in Colorado" with Clay & Sandi Roberts
1 PM "Best Practices for Ice Fishing" with David Harrison
2 PM "Best Muskie Techniques" with Will Dykstra
3 PM "Targeting Fresh Water Stripers" with TBA
4 PM "Mono, Fluro, or Braid?" with Clay & Sandi Roberts
5 PM "Choosing the Right Rod for Walleye" with Ron Lowry

Sunday March 9th
11 AM "Walleye Techniques for Southern Waters" with Ron Lowry
12 PM "Fly Fishing for Bass in Colorado" with Clay & Sandi Roberts
1 PM "Best Practices for Ice Fishing" with Robbie Richardson
2 PM "Best Muskie Techniques" with Will Dykstra
3 PM "Targeting Fresh Water Stripers" with Sam Heckman
4 PM "Mono, Fluro, or Braid?" with Clay & Sandi Roberts
5 PM "Choosing the Right Rod for Walleye" with Ron Lowry


Bass Pro's White River Fly Shop - late winter 2014 report

This winter continues to provide amazing opportunities for very large rainbow trout on the Upper Owens River. With the warming spring like conditions in the Eastern Sierra, these jumbo sized rainbows are running up river from Lake Crowley driven by the urge to spawn. From Benton Crossing Bridge upstream anglers can find pods of fish holding in the bend pools and deeper runs. Nymphing with an indicator is most successful method to take these large fish. The indicator rig allows the angler to fish at distance in order to avoid spooking the fish and gives instant feedback on the soft subtle takes. Some good flies to try are San Juan worms, egg patterns and various nymph imitations such as flashback pheasant tails, brassies, beadhead hares ear nymphs, and midge patterns in size #18 and #20.

Sierra Drifter guide Tom Lowe offers the following tips: “winter time takes are as soft as a butterflies kiss, so set on anything.  If your indicator stops, shimmies, hovers, or plunges, SET IT!  I tell clients to look for reasons to set the hook, not excuses why you didn’t! Swings are free, and you can’t strike out while fly fishing. Try to set the hook moving your rod the direction your indicator is moving. This establishes ANGLE & insures you pull the hook INTO the fish, not out of its mouth. Anything 4 feet or deeper may hold a fish or two.  There is also some decent midge activity; however the flies are very small and clusters or parachute patterns will do the job.  There were a few fish rising around 2 pm. I saw the first mayflies in quite a while, maybe the beginning? I actually caught a few using a dry dropper rig with a para bwo hi-vis #14, and a dark flashback PT #20.”


Happy White River Fly Shop customer Herb Mathiesen, with a jumbo Upper Owens River Rainbow. Photo courtesy of Tom Lowe.