An Appalachian Fly Fishing Adventure

Rod WotenBy Rod Woten
Local Pro Staff
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

I’m very fortunate that the company I work for has a facility in Luray, Virginia, that I get to travel to a couple of times every year.  Luray sits in the Shenandoah Valley nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not long after I started traveling to Luray, I learned of the tiny brook trout that live in the mountain streams around Luray. For a fly angler, to catch a truly wild trout is one of the ultimate goals, even if it is something the size of these small brook trout that come from the small streams up in the mountains. Ever since I first heard about these fish, I’ve been doing research and putting together a plan for that trip where I might have some free time to fish up in the mountains. Finally, I had the opportunity. I was able to time my trip, so that I arrived in the area early on Sunday afternoon, which would leave me plenty of time to fish before checking into my hotel that evening and heading to work at the Luray facility first thing Monday morning. After extensive research, I finally decided that Jeremy’s Run would be the stream I would target. 

Jeremy’s Run appealed to me for several reasons:

  • It was in relatively close proximity to Luray, which would minimize my drive time. 
  • It seemed that fishing Jeremy’s Run was pretty decent year-round, as long as water levels stayed up. 
  • Of all the streams I researched, Jeremy’s Run had some of the best access.  Since time was a premium for me, the less time spent hiking meant the more time I could spend fishing.  Also because I was flying, I was very limited in what I could bring along for gear.  My packable wading boots made the trip, but there just wasn’t room for waders or much other additional gear.

I arrived at the Elk Wallow Picnic wayside along Skyline Drive later that afternoon.  After getting my rod rigged and slipping on my wading boots, I began the trek down the mountain to find Jeremy’s Run. To get to Jeremy’s Run, I actually had to follow the Appalachian Trail, until the intersection with Jeremy’s Run Trail, which was an adventure in itself.  I’ve always wanted to hike the AT, and now I can say that I have. 

It seemed like forever before I finally reached the concrete pillar that designates the intersection of the AT and Jeremy’s Run Trail. I was actually starting to wonder if I had missed it or taken the wrong trail altogether. TheAppalachian Trail marker directions said it was a short hike to the intersection, but apparently the author’s idea of a short hike and mine are two very different things.  From that point on, I added distance to every mention of distance in the directions I was following. Even once I was on Jeremy’s Trail, I still had thoughts that I had taken a wrong turn or maybe Jeremy’s Run had gone dry, because it took what seemed like an eternity before I could even hear the sound of running water. Somewhere in the deep heavily forested ravine that was now on my right was Jeremy’s Run. I wondered how I would even get down to the stream to fish it, and how brook trout could live in the little trickle I was hearing. I continued on, losing altitude as I went, which also brought me to the startling realization that it would take me a lot longer to hike out than it did for me to hike in. The entire time I was awestruck by my surroundings…millipedes as big as a Sharpie everywhere, mushrooms and fungus the likes of which I had never seen, a thick mossy carpet on every rock and massive hardwood trees that were probably as old as our nation. 

I, also, constantly had the thought of bears in the back of my mind. I had noticed two road kill bears on the highway on my way into Front Royal, so I knew that they were on the move and a bear encounter was a real possibility. On one hand, I thought it would be cool to see my first black bear in the wild, but on the other it was situation that I’m not sure I really wanted to have to deal with…especially if it was a sow with cubs.  Regardless, I soldiered on and eventually the trail flattened out, the forest opened up a bit, and Jeremy’s Run had grown much larger. Suddenly the trail ended abruptly at the side of the stream only to resume on the opposite side. I had arrived. 

Immediately to my right was a small pool with a small waterfall above it consisting of rocks and years’ worth of accumulated logs. As I looked further upstream, the entire stream appeared to be made up of this endless series of pools with a drop and small riffle into the next pool. The gradient must have been very steep, because the pool about 100 yards upstream of me was at my line of sight or slightly higher. It was truly a weird feeling looking at that pool of water that was over my head only a short distance away. 

The pool I was on appeared to be about mid-calf deep at its deepest point near the face of the log jam. I roll-casted my hopper-dropper rig into that general area of the pool and, before I could blink, a flash erupted from under the log jam and attempted to inhale my foam grasshopper from the surface of the water. I was so surprised that I totally whiffed on the hookset!  Undaunted, I rolled the hopper back into the same spot. Once again the flash came out, but this time I was ready. I flexed the rod backwards and employed my best strip-set, only to come up empty again. I got a better look at the brookie this time, however, and ascertained that my hopper was too big for him to get in his mouth. I quickly snipped the hopper-dropper from my tippet and threaded on my old reliable elk hair caddis. I roll-casted into that same spot in the pool several more times but the brookie was onto me now and refused to come out again. I crawled my way overWild Brook Trout that log jam and proceeded upstream to the next pool.

It was similar to the previous pool only not quite as deep and with more rocks lining its bottom. I flipped the EH Caddis towards the head of the pool and it was immediately met by an olive green flash. I set the hook and immediately felt weight on my line. I could tell just by the feel that this brookie was larger than the one that outwitted me on the previous pool. I stripped line to bring the brookie to hand and eventually landed a nice 6” wild mountain brook trout!  There is a 9” minimum for keepers on Jeremy’s Run, so, after a quick photo, I slid the fish back into the edge of the pool and he quickly darted from my hand and disappeared back in to the stones littering the bottom. I worked my way upstream repeating this process, catching one or two in every pool before moving along.  Unfortunately, none were as big as the six-incher I landed right off the bat.

This was absolutely some of the most physically demanding fishing I had ever done. This was due not only to the strenuous hike in (and OUT!), but due to all the crawling over, under, or through log jams to get from pool to pool, scaling boulders and tripping over smaller rocks as I waded. The pools are much different than what I was used to at home as well. The deepest ones were only about knee deep and some only as big around as a laundry baskets. It was amazing that these fish can thrive in such small waters. It also made me realize how nice of a fish my 6” brook trout was. The brookies didn’t hesitate to rise to a dry fly, often doing so with fury. If you missed one though, they usually don’t give you a second chance. If you let too much line fall on the pool, or even cast your shadow over the pool, you could forget about getting a rise from that pool as well. 

Twilight began to creep down the mountain, so, with reluctance, I stopped casting, stowed my fly rod and began the hike back up the mountain to my rental car. The hike out was even more strenuous than I had feared. My leg muscles were already sore from all the acrobatics required to fish the stream, as well as working them to control my speed on the hike down, so they began to burn in earnest on the way out.  Somewhere along the way, the barred owls began hooting, which caused me to quicken my step as much as I could. I began to look for my boot tracks from the hike down in the muddy spots of the trial. This not only occupied my mind, but also assured me that I was on the right path.  I actually began to piece this write up together in my head as I walked. I also began to make a game of noting things along the trail…deer track…another millipede…a cairn left by some previous angler…colorful mushrooms…another of my boot prints…bear track… 

Wait…WHAT?!?!?!  BEAR TRACK!! My heart began to race, and I felt the hair stand up on the back of my Bear trackneck. To make matters worse, the perfectly shaped bear track overlapped my boot track from the hike in, so I KNEW that bear had been through there within the past few hours. The single track was SO perfect that I actually thought to myself for a second that someone else was playing a trick on me. Then I realized that I had not seen or heard another soul since I left my car on Skyline Drive. Needless to say, I picked up the pace even more. I as moving as fast as my muscles, heart, and lungs would carry me, but it still didn’t seem to be enough. I was deep in thought trying to determine how much longer I could keep up this pace, when I saw a black streak going up a tree about 100 yards ahead of me. I stopped in my track to see a black bear cub perched at the top of an old dead pine. Within a few seconds, a second cub popped its head out from the other side of the topless tree. Drat! The exact scenario I didn’t want to have happen was playing out before my very eyes. I noticed motion at the base of the tree and then heard the grunting between the cubs and the movement on the ground. The momma bear! My head raced….was she blocking the trail? If so, how do I get back to my car? The forest is way too thick for me to bushwhack and I’d probably just get lost. I slowly eased my way around the corner of the trail to get a better assessment of the situation and spotted the large black mass shuffling around the bottom of the tree. Luckily they were all about 30 yards off the left side of the trail so I didn’t have to worry about coming between her and her cubs. Based on that information, I quickly decided to put my head down and try to scoot past the trio as quickly as I could, attempting to project that I hadn’t even seen them. I was hoping that once they realized I was not a threat, I could just breeze on by. With determination, I stepped out to the middle of the trail and began to move forward with purpose. Within about three steps, the mother bear caught sight of me and bolted into the underbrush the opposite direction of the trail. I let out a slight sigh of relief, but kept right on truckin’ until I got back to the asphalt below the parking lot where I left the car.

It took me a good half day to recover, but, by Monday afternoon, I had already decideWild Brook Troutd to fish Jeremy’s Run from the other direction, starting at the bottom and working my way up. My theory was that I could squeeze that in after work, since it wouldn’t take me nearly as long to drive or hike to the stream. I found good fishing almost immediately and started catching brookies within sight of the bridge over Jeremy’s Run at the start of the trail. The hiking was much easier on the way in and the stream was much wider, flatter and generally easier to fish. I even found a nice pool with an old root ball in the middle of it, where I caught several brookies in a row, including at least a couple that were as big as my big brookie from the day before. I continued to hike upward and fish, wherever the trail was close to the stream. One particular stretch that wandered quite a ways from the stream felt very much like prime bear territory to me. Eventually, I reached a spot where the stream became very narrow and rugged…much more like what I had fished the day before. By that time the sun was starting to set and my legs were in no shape for more log jam wrestling or boulder hopping, so I turned around and headed back to the car. When I reached the spot that felt very bear-like to me on the way in, I spotted the tail end of a smaller, single bear as it crashed into the underbrush headed away from me.  In just two days I went from never having seen a black bear in the wild to having seen four! I arrived back at my car a short time later and brought my Appalachian adventure to an end.

I feel very blessed to have been able to fish in the mountains on this trip. Jeremy’s Run is definitely a stream I will visit again. There are lots of other sections of it I’d like to fish yet. I chuckle now thinking about all the reports that said Jeremy’s Run is one of the most accessible streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If that’s the case, I have to wonder what the less accessible streams are like! While the 6” brookies I caught are decent fish by small mountain stream standards, I know there are larger brookies up there, so I’m bound and determined to catch a 9-inch one some trip yet to be planned.

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Tackling Tackle Craft

Have you ever had that one special jig that seems to catch fish, no matter the conditions? Maybe it was the reliable go-to, red and white bucktail jig for walleyes. Or possibly the pink and white marabou jig that crappies couldn’t resist. We’ve all found that one special color combination that seems to perform when everything else fails. But what do you do when your local bait shop doesn’t have it in stock or the manufacturer quits making that jig?

For me, the answer was easy: "I’ll make my own."

I was in fourth grade when I tied my first bucktail jig. All I had was a hand-me-down “starter kit” that belonged to my great-uncle. He passed away before he was able to fully dive into building his own tackle, but I was happy to pick up where he left off.  The kit itself consisted of a few basic jig-heads in yellow, white, and black, some marabou feathers in the same colors, a few basic tools, such as a bobbin anTackle craftd a whip finisher, and a beginner’s “how-to” pamphlet on jig tying. I was eager to open everything up and get to work at my mom’s kitchen table, and it wasn’t long before
I had my first, hand-tied marabou jig completed and ready for the water. 

You don’t need a lot to start making your own fishing jigs. A pack of plain jig-heads, a spool of thread, some feathers from a pheasant or duck that you or your buddy shot, and a bottle of head cement, and you have everything you need to get started. Obviously, if you walk over to our White River Fly Shop, you will see that the options are virtually endless when it comes to colors and materials, but don’t let the vast assortment intimidate you. Keep things simple. 

If you like to fish for panfish, pick out your favorite color and size of jig-head, some material in colors of your choosing (options range from feathers of all types to deer, elk and rabbit hair), a spool of thread (I like red), and a bottle of head cement (fancy name for glue). You will also need some basic tools like a vice, bobbin, and bobbin threader. Luckily, there are kits available that have all of the tools you need to get started, as well as how-to guides that will guide you step-by-step through the process. There are also hundreds of books out there that you can buy that will teach you jig-tying, fly-tying or rod-building (more on that later), just to name a few aspects of tackle-craft. In today’s society of “at your fingertips” technology, you can also get on YouTube and find countless videos from beginners and experts alike that will make it easy for you to get started making your own jigs. 

Besides the fun and relaxation making your own fishing tackle can provide, it also brings with it a sense of accomplishment, and, for me, a sense of pride, knowing that I have made something that the fish deem worthy to bite. Whether it’s because it actually looks like something the fish would eat, or because it looked bad enough to make the fish mad and want to attack, is another discussion for another day. Either way, catching fish on one-of-a-kind tackle that you built with your own hands is much more satisfying, to me anyway, than using something that everyone has in their tackle box at home.

I still have the first jig I tied, and it’s interesting to look back and see where I started and compare it to some of the jigs that I’ve tied more recently. The wraps are neater now, and more consistent. The material length is clean cut and the overall finish is something that looks more appealing, at least to a fisherman’s eye. I’ve used some of my original jigs and some of my most recent jigs, and they have all caught fish at some point - even the odd color combinations, like baby blue and fluorescent orange with silver flashabou.

So, don’t worry about whether or not it will look good; let the fish decide that for you. Stop out to Bass Pro and pick up everything you need to get started making your own one-of-a-kind fishing jigs.

Good luck with your own tackle craft and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Chad BensonChad Benson
Archery Lead
Bass Pro Shops
Altoona, Iowa

 

 

 

 

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Fly Fishing in the Black Hills

Rod Woten, ColdWater Guide ServiceOur local pro Rod Woten, ColdWater Guide Services, headed to the Black Hills recently for some vacation time and his favorite hobby - fly fishing! Here's a little rundown of the highlights!

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We had a great time fly fishing in The Black Hills of South Dakota! I had a hit list of streams I wanted to fish and we managed to hit them all. We caught trout in every one of them we fished, too. Even managed to catch all three of the major stream species: brown, rainbow and brook trout. I was also fortunate enough to be able to spend one of the days fishing with my buddy, Zach, that I met through the Hooked on Hardwater Event put on by Craig Oyler and The Rapid City Club for Boys.Black Hills Fly Fishing

 
I am amazed and how unique each stream was....

Castle Creek was very narrow and more open mountain meadow type of fishing. The hopper bite was very good there. We caught lots of small wild brookies on nymphs, as well as some larger ones, and a couple of good rainbows on foam hoppers. I even had a HUGE rainbow swing and miss at my hopper twice before he got wise to me. I didn't know fish that big could live in a stream that size! For many reasons, this was my favorite stream during the entire trip.

French Creek in Custer Park was much more wooded with tall granite cliffs. This is the same creek that Custer discovered gold in during the 1870s, so the appeal of catching browns from those same waters was irresistible to me. Nymph fishing seemed to work best here, but sometimes it was hard to keep the creek chubs off your fly long enough for the trout to hit!

Rapid Creek, through the Pactola Flats, was most like the waters I'm used to at home, except there are LOTS of BIG trout in there. Strangely enough, this was also the toughest stream we fished. The water was shallow and clear and those big old bruisers are very wise to the ways of fly fisherman. A dry fly fished well ahead of their feeding runs seemed to be the best approach.

Spring Creek immediately below the Sheridan Lake Dam was similar to French Creek, only MUCH more rugged. The browns here were hungry, as well, and a tan elk hair caddis was just the ticket.

Rapid Creek in Downtown Rapid City was a real treat for us. If I had access to such a dynamite dry fly bite that close to me, I'd probably be living in a cardboard box down by the creek! We caught mostly browns and rainbows and we caught them on hoppers, nymphs, caddis...you name it! I wonder how many Rapid City residents have absolutely no idea what a wonderful trout stream they have running right through their downtown?
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Kayaking, Make it an Adventure!

Kayaking is not just for non-motorized paddling on the lake, Make it an adventure! Did you know that kayaking can be more than just a paddle around the lake? Lets go Kayaking! I had no idea until my mom became an avid kayak-er. This is quite the adventurous sport and people all over the country have stepped up kayaking into a 2-3 day even longer adventure. This has prompted me to do a little research. Up till now our kayak trips include a lunch, the dogs, a remote control boat, and an afternoon around our local lake. After watching and learning what my mom does, I'm convinced you can turn kayaking into a vacation if your idea is roughing it, and not a 5 star Hilton. So what do you take on a kayak adventure?

First things first, a kayak. There are several to choose from and 2 basic types. Sit on top and sit in. Ascend Kayaks and Accessories I like my sit-on-top because it's more stable feeling in the water to me, my dogs have more room to walk around, and I can sun my legs, but our sit-in is cooler, since it sits deeper in the water. There are also short skirted sit-ins that are used in white water. I would recommend what ever kayak is most comfortable to you and what suits your all around needs. Choosing a Kayak If you plan to fish, be sure to get one set up for fishing. It will have rod pockets and holders to keep your fishing rods, as well as spots to hold bait and tackle. Be sure to check out our 1 source page for what you should know for kayak fishing. http://1source.basspro.com/index.php/component/k2/81-kayaking/3542-fishing-from-a-kayak 

Next is your paddle. I find a longer paddle gives me more reach and allows a more comfortable longer stroke. A shorter paddle gives you a good shoulder work out and is needed for a shorter kayak. This is a formula for the best paddle fit, (paddler height x boat width) and know your angle low or high, average length is a 220cm paddle. Do some research and adjust your paddle as you progress in the sport.

Next is life Jacket, invest your money well on this item! Fit is very important and this is the item that can save your life! I would recommend a life jacket specific for kayaking. It will be more comfortable. Make sure and try them on and sit down and move your arms in paddling motions. You want a jacket that gives you room to paddle and not pinch or rub in your arm movements. They are weight rated, so know your weight, and don't lie on this one. if you go too light, it may not hold you up. If you go too heavy, it may be too big and slip in the water. They also need to fit snug. If it's loose, it may be too big or not adjusted down far enough. You want it to stay in place should you get wet.

Speaking of wet, should you overturn and get wet, you want your gear to stay dry. This brings the need for dry bags. Especially, since this is an adventure, we are taking a lot more gear with us. There are several different sizes and weights. I would pack different bags for different stuff. Example: food and water filter, clothes, emergency, and sleeping gear I would pack in separate bags. This will allow you to only unpack what you need at the time and not everything you brought with you. It will help in packing your kayak as well. You don't have a lot of ample space, so pack small and tight so you can have options of where to stash and strap your gear down. Water tight is what you need. You can skimp and try zip locks and trash bags, but one dump in the water and will be sorry. This may cost you too. You may have to buy all your friends beer for helping you retrieve your items or worse case, all your gear sinks and you know have no shelter, food, or clothes. Now your adventure is over. So be prepared and pack smart.

Emergency essentials. A paddle, first aid kit, survival tool, knife, whistle, light, headlamp, poncho, rope, cell phone or GPS hand held, and batteries, would be in my emergency kit.

Now, let eat and drink! A small backpack style stove works great for kayaking. Jetboil, is the first type that comes to mind and don't forget fuel. This will allow you to eat a hot meal. Pack a nice selection of dehydrated food, Mountain House beef stroganoff is one my favorites and cookie and cream, ice cream for dessert. Pack enough for all your meals out. Energy bars, beef jerky, and compact snacks are great too. Water is essential to staying hydrated, but heavy to pack. So bring a filter and or filter system so you can pack less water, but be able to drink the water around you safely. Sawyer makes a great versatile filter that be used on a bottle, a bag, or in a hydration pack line. Do you research and get a good one that fits all your needs.

Just a few more items. Clothing and hygiene. Personal care and hygiene items to your preference. No rinse body wash, makes a great packable soap. along with other travel size products. Sunscreen and shades. Pack clothes and wear clothes that are versatile. Pants that zip off into shorts, long sleeve, light weight shirts that the sleeves roll up and fasten. Base layers are always a good idea if the weather is in cooler months, spring and fall. Water shoes that allow the water to leave the shoes and wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry. Gloves and a hat will also keep you from getting sun-burnt and blisters on your hands.

Last but not Least, Your sleeping gear. What you invest in and pack can make a huge difference on how well you will sleep. A sleeping bag with the proper temperature rating is essential. Our Ascend 20 degree mummy bag, is a great choice. Packs down small and tight, but will also keep you warm. A compact, self inflating, sleeping pad will help keep you warm and your back happy. Then for shelter, you can do a one man tent or a hammock. The hammocks seem to be the most popular now. They are super lightweight, easy to pack, no poles and comfortable to sleeping. Make sure your not kayaking or sleeping above treeline; that could pose a problem. A bug screen and rain fly are a good idea depending on where you go. Be to be safe and protected than not.

We would love for you to share your photos and read your adventure stories. Do you have any gear on the list, you would like us to cover more in depth on a separate blog? We like to know what interests you, so let us know.. 

kayak photo listpack list

Dogs on the lakecamping

 

 

Out for Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

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How Far Is Far Enough

One of the most common concerns of new and slightly seasoned fly fishers is their inability to cast a line "far enough" to catch fish or they just don't feel they cast well enough to keep from embarrassing themselves while on the water with buddies.  We act as cheerleaders and coaches letting them know that distance is truly relative and it's not really about how far you throw but how well you can hit your target and what you do with the fly once it gets there.  Most folks nod in understanding while we're in the shop but then stare at us like we're Martians when we drop a 90 or 100 foot cast out on the grass.  "But you just said I don't need to cast that far," is the typical response when they see someone bomb out a cast like that.  We've got some explaining to do right about then.

Let's start by saying potential casting distance is influenced by a number of factors including:

  • Angler ability.
  • Rod design.
  • Line type, design, age.
  • Environmental conditions.
  • Fly type, design, size

But in the end we just want to know how far is far enough.  Well, as a general rule I think most successful open-water (as opposed to stream and brook) fly anglers will agree that they hook most of their fish between 50 and 65 feet away, which means that just about anybody capable of casting a minimum of 35 feet can catch fish and everything beyond that distance will just increase their chances.  Why a minimum of 35?  That's because most modern fly rods, take a 9' 8 weight for example, are designed to load and unload efficiently with the first thirty to thirty five feet of a matched weight fly line outside the rod tip.  The lines weight that makes the cast possible is distributed across the first 30 or so feet making casts of less than 30 feet a bit difficult (because the weight isn't enough to effectively load the rod), while casts from 35 to 65 or so feet  become a piece of cake.  Short and special purpose fly rods load differently and it's up to the angler to figure out what type of line will work best it's effective range is.

When blind casting to cover a lot of water I'll cast to 65 or 70 feet, strip in to the 35 or 40 foot mark, pickup and cast again, that way I'm using the weighted portion of the line to my greatest advantage and not wasting time.  If casting to a fish, I think we'd all agree that getting as close as possible without spooking it is the key, then the casting distance can be minimized and accuracy increased.  Most fish on the flats will strike a fly within the first few seconds of sensing its presence so it really isn't necessary to strip the fly across 25 feet of unproductive water just to have the fish inhale it when it's within two or three feet.  So getting within 45 or 50 feet of the target puts it smack-dab in the middle of our effective range.  Practice to the point where you can reliably pickup the line's head and within one or two false casting cycles, return the fly to the strike zone at your maximum effective distance.  PERFECT!!! 

So why do fly guys talk about casting 90, 100, 110 feet?  Because it feels good to be able to lay out a giant cast that lays out perfectly straight and on target.  And also because practicing casts beyond traditional fishing distances will ensure that making a money shot to 65 or 70 feet will be a piece of cake.  It looks great in a photograph or a movie but it isn't practical or necessary to cast further in the vast majority of real-life fly fishing situations.  Trout anglers may never need to reach very far at all but you can bet your last dollar that they need to be accurate, have great line control, and be able to perform a wide range of casting styles in order to put the fly on the water and not in the trees.

I guess the lesson to be learned at this point is that distance is relative.  Practice to reach distances slightly beyond your normal fishing range, and fish at ranges where you can maintain good accuracy and control.  If that's 40 feet...So be it.  Keep practicing and eventually it will increase to 50, 60, or even 70 feet.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

  

 

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What Everybody Ought to Know About Spring Fishing Classic: Recap

 

Spring Fishing Classic Recap:

Wow! Not only is it the World’s Greatest Fishing Sale but a fun and educational experience for all who attend.

This year we kicked off with an amazing sale Valentines weekend. What goes best with a Valentines weekend? A wedding proposal at our weekly public fish feeding! It was so much fun to help out this customer with popping the question. Congratulations to Chris and Anastasia. We see a fish themed or maybe a camo wedding in their future. https://www.facebook.com/bpsdenver/videos/965255456856334/

We continued the week with a Triple Crown Bonus on Marine installation and an amazing offer with our Rod and Reel trade in. Did you all know what we do with all those rods and reels? We donate them to amazing non-profit partner groups who help get kids, veterans and underprivileged into the sport of fishing. So never think they go to waste! Some deserving person just got the opportunity to experience a new passion that was once just a dream. So a huge thanks, to all who took advantage of the rod and reel trade in. To round out the Spring Fishing Classic, we ended on a high note with a busy 2 days of seminars, demos, non-profit partner displays and activities for our Next Generation.

We featured tons of extra seminars from our local pool of amazing talent including:Nitro Pro Staff, Dennis Hunter.  Professional Walleye Fisherman and Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff,Jack Winters. Professional Bass Fisherman and Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff, Sam Heckman.(It just happened to be Sam's Birthday on Saturday, so we had to celebrate at the Weekly fish feeding! The whole audiance joined into to sing Happy Birthday to Sam). Colorado Walleye Association member and avid fisherman, Brad Peterson. Fly fishing expert, guide, and artist, Melissa Davis.Current “Best of the West Fly Casting Champion”, Sandi Roberts. Umpqua Fly tier and Designer, Herman deGala. Expert Fly Fisherman and Bass Pro Fly Shop associate,Bill Louthan. Past JR. Bass Master Jr. Champion,Ryan Wood. Expert Fly Fisherman and Bass Pro Fly Shop associate,Alan Reyes. Expert Fly Fisher-woman and Bass Pro Shops Fly Shop associate,Simone Geoffrion. Professional Fishing and Hunting guide, owner of Tightline Outdoors, Nathan Zelinsky. Expert Kayak fisherman and journalist of Born to Fish Media,Eric Allee. Our seminars were packed with attendees and covered fly fishing, freshwater fishing topics, as well as live tank demos on some of our best lures. If you are ever in search of a place to get expert advice, attending our seminars can certainly help in the quest of knowledge from the people who live it, love it and do it.  Eric Alee KAyak Fishing

Our Next Generation Event featured Fun kids activities including a kids fishing seminar, Free downloadable photo, interactive fish craft, coloring activities, and casting bucket challenge. For those who completed the craft and photo they also received a adorable Fish string backpack.

Some of our Amazing Non-Profit partners that joined us were: Casting For Recovery, Colorado Women Fly Fishers, Colorado Walleye Association, High Plains Drifters, Project Healing Waters, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Hawkquest, and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. This is the one time of the year you can see our National Symbol, The Bald Eagle live and in person with an opportunity for a photo.

So if you by chance missed all the great happenings here at the store, stay tuned to our store webpage and Facebook page for upcoming events and we’ll plan to see you next year! Loralee Alemanni, Promotions Coordinator, Denver Bass Pro ShopsNate ZelinskyHawkquestOur Engaged CoupleStore Sings Sam Heckman Happy BirthdaySandi RobertsCoastieFly TiersFly Fishing PartnersHawkquest Bald EagleBill LouthanRyan WoodJack Winters

 

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Shad Season 2016

January, February, and March in central Florida means Shad for an ever increasing number of anglers that discover the wonderful fun than can be reached a short distance from their doorsteps.  But fish being fish will dash the hopes of even the best organized and practiced angler, therefore increasing the intense desire to return for another try year after year after year.

Shad fishing can be one of those things that will test your patience because you just have believe the fish are there and one will eventually find the fly.  I don't think I have ever blindly casted for a fish more than for shad, which requires a great deal of faith on my part considering that I'm a sight fisherman at heart.  Thankfully though, shad like to travel certain corridors and hold in particular locations so we can eliminate 90 percent of the water and concentrate on the remaining ten.  They tend to run in deeper channels and stack up in holes that can be up to 30 feet in depth, making the presentation tough at times but the rewards well worth it.  Steelheaders will appreciate the method of presenting quartering downstream, allowing the fly to sink and swing with the current until it's parallel to the shore, then working slowly upstream for a bit. "Swingers" from out west and the great lakes should love fishing for shad in the traditional manner.  Sometimes we do get lucky and have a phenomenal topwater bite but I can count those days on one hand if I'm to be realistic.  Enjoy it if it happens but don't plan on it.  You might want to check out "Wade Fly Fishing The Upper St. Johns River Basin(Florida) For American Shad" If you'd like to read about some of the locations and tactics before throwing caution to the wind and venturing forth.

Shad season is about more than chasing a fish some might call mythical because they've only seen them in photographs.  We look forward to seeing friends on the water, taking pictures of the wildlife, getting some exercise, and maybe catch a few fish in the process.  I love viewing all the different birds visiting the region during winter, including the American White Pelicans and the Caracara.  Both are indicators that shad season is here and it's time to hit the water. 

This season has only just begun and the conditions are near perfect right now so pack up and hit the river somewhere along "Shad Alley" (not too early since the bite may not really get going until late morning or early afternoon) with a few friends in boats, kayaks, or maybe even walking the shore.  Bring along some small bright flies along with your favorite five or six weight, or some shad darts and small Rat-L-Traps for the light action spinning rods. Throw them close to the deep drop offs, channels, creek mouths, or anyplace that looks fishy and you never know what you might hook into.  Crappie, sunshine bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, mudfish, and maybe even a shad or two might join the party.  It only takes a little of your time and a bit of effort to have a wonderful time.  Good luck.

 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

    

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2016 Spring Fishing Classic!

The world's greatest fishing show and sale is back, and there's something for everyone! Awesome activities, and hot deals all 10 days! Check out complete details and specials at www.basspro.com/classic!

Rod and Reel Trade-In

The Rod and Reel Trade-In is back...and it's 10 days long! 
Trade in your old reel and save even more on a new one! Trade in your old rod and save on a new one of those, too! It lasts for the whole Classic and includes fly rods and reels!

Rods and reels must not be broken. Lat year our amazing Bass Pro Shops Altoona customers donated over 500 rods and reels, all of which were donated to Scouts, the DNR, Lake View Camp for kids, and a veteran's program.

Local Seminars - February 19-21!

Join us for these great seminars all weekend! the First 25 people to attend each seminar will receive a free SFC logo cooler bag!

Friday, Feb. 19

7 p.m. - Bladed Jigs: Learn How and Where to Fish Bladed Jigs for your Next Big Catch

Saturday & Sunday, February 20 & 21

11 a.m. - New To Fishing? Learn All You Need to Know to Get Started - Presented by Lance Baker, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

2 p.m. - Understanding Baitfish and Their Seasonal Movements - Presented by Kary Ray, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

4 p.m. - The Strategy of Successful Kayak Fishing - Presented by Associate Kent Petersen, avid kayak fisherman.

 

Next Generation Weekend - February 20 & 21!

Bring the kids out to celebrate the coming of warmer weather and learn more about fishing!

  • Noon-5 p.m.: Casting Challenge - Kids receive a fish-shaped water bottle when they complete the challenge!
  • Free 4x6 photo download
  • Free Craft - Decorate a fish magnet! (While supplies last)

Kids' Workshop - 4:30 both days  - "Think Like a Fish!" Kids receive a certificate and the first 25 at the seminar receive a blow-up bobber ball!

Saturday, Feb, 20, the kids' workshop is presented by Taylor Howard, Coordinator of the Mitchellville Elementary Fishing Club for kids!

Sunday, Feb. 21, the kids' workshop is presented by Joel VanRoekel from the Iowa DNR!

 

Women's Fishing Workshop - February 20 - 1:30

Fishing basics for women - fishing can be fun! First 25 women to attend receive a free tumbler!

 

Fried Fish Sampling - Feb. 20 - 2-4 p.m.

_________________________

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Visit us @ www.basspro.com/altoona
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Fishing for Brown Trout in New York

Patrick Farmer from the fishing department and Michael Simon from the White River Fly Shop recently returned from a fishing trip to New York State! The destination was a small river on the South shore of Lake Ontario. They both landed some amazing brown trout!

Patrick was able to field test his Bass Pro Shops Osprey Chest waders and was impressed with their durability and construction. They used a combination of flies to land the brown trout including Chartreuse eggs, Wooly Buggers, and damsel flies. Patrick prefers to use his 8 wt. TFO fly rod when fishing for large fish and it looks like he definitely put it to the test on this adventure! We encourage you to stop by and ask them about their fishing trip. Check out a few of their catches!

Have Fly Rod, Will Travel

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My Favorite Time Of Year

Barn and MapleFall is my favorite time of year by far and I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people out there that share my feelings.  We look forward to the temperatures dropping a touch below what you'd find in a steel foundry, the colors seem to explode like nature's version of a fireworks display, and the animals become hyper active in their search for a mate or food for the coming winter.  When I was growing up, the crispness in the air let us know  things were changing and seemed to breath new life into kids who were tired of being beat down by the heat and humidity of a Erie summer.  Our evening bike rides were longer, the football games more competitive, and our search for stored away hunting equipment more frantic with each passing day.  The moment was upon us and we probably weren't quite as ready as we could have been.  Sitting in a high school classroom during the fall was inhumane torture once the colors started changing and hitting the fields and woods was more important than anything a teacher could possible tell us.

Fall hunting season started with archery and then quickly moved into squirrel, grouse, then rabbit and pheasant.  If I'd lived there at this time in my life the season would have also included steelhead and lake-run brown further complicating matters since I couldn't possibly decide whether I wanted to go hunting or fishing.  Some people think fall is a season when things are turning brown and dying but for the outdoorsman, it's a  time of excitement and exploration.  I could spend days afield or on the streams staring in wonderment at the colors, hearing the sounds, and taking in the sweet smells of the season.  It makes my heart ache when I think about what I'm missing by living so far south, but then again, I don't have to shovel snow in January.

Fall in Florida brings on the hunting season just like more northern regions but we don't get to enjoy temperature changes quite like they do, nor do we see the broad spectrum of color changes but things are happening at a fever pitch.  The annual mullet run is underway and the fish are feeding with abandon, the migratory birds are beginning to show up after leaving their summer homes, and the deer are going through the fall rut as they try to create the next generation of monster bucks.  Nature continues to move forward as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop into a range slightly below incinerator levels.  It can be a wonderful time of year no matter where in the country you might choose to call home.  You just need to take the time to get outdoors and enjoy it. Ruffed Grouse

Pull on some hiking boots, jeans, and a nice flannel shirt then hit the road with your camera, rod, or gun and I'm sure you'll fall in love with the fall season like so many of us have.  It's a wonderful time of the year that seems to pass all too quickly so don't miss it this year. because it'll be winter before you know it. 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

 

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Fishy Facts: Tuna

So it has been a while since I got really “salty” with one of the Fishy Facts blogs. In fact, I haven’t focused on a saltwater fish species since April! Shame, shame, shame. But I am looking to correct that this month, with a look at what may be the most well known and most consumed saltwater fish out there: the tuna! So sit back, take a Dramamine pill if necessary and we’re full steam ahead into the world of this amazing fish!

Tuna are a saltwater fish that are well known for their fast-speeds and delicious taste. There are several species of tuna including: Albacore, Blackfin, Bigeye, Longtail, Yellowfin and Bluefin (which has three different species – Atlantic, Pacific and Southern). There are other species of tuna, but the ones listed are the most common.

Most tuna are shaped the same, streamlined and sleek for impressive speeds and two closely spaced dorsal fins on their backs. They mostly vary physically by size and coloring. For example the bullet and frigate tuna average a little over a foot in length, whereas the Atlantic Bluefin tuna averages over six feet! There is a correlation between the larger the fish the longer they are known to live for, but unfortunately there is a similar trend of the larger the fish the more endangered it is. These fish also live in massive schools which can breathtaking to see in action.

For centuries, tuna have been a prized fish for consumption and catching. Their immense strength and impressive speeds make them an awesome sport fish. I had the chance to do an overnight tuna trip out of California many moons ago and my forearms have not burned as much as when catching some yellowfin. (And that includes comparing to reeling in a 175lb Mako shark on a fly rod.) Commercially, tuna are one of the heaviest fished stocks out there. Due to the increase of human consumption we are depleting these animals quickly.

Over the years, there have been several developments put into place to hopefully help tuna populations. There are size and amount limitations on these fish in certain areas. And fishermen have learned what kind of tuna repopulate quicker. For instance, the skipjack can bounce back much faster than harvesting Bluefin tuna. Some people are also trying to farm raise these fish from eggs, much like any other fish-farming process.

When sport fishing became so well documented and publicized, by the likes of Zane Grey and Ernest Hemmingway, there was almost an “arms” race to catch the biggest fish. Fishermen sought out the largest fish and went through grueling fights to land them. Some battles take over an hour’s time. The largest Atlantic Bluefin tuna caught in 1976 and weighed 1496 pounds. But these kinds of catches will probably never happen again as these giant fish probably no longer exist.

Whether a fisherman or not, we must all do our part to help protect tuna populations and their environment. Figure out what you can do on a local level to help impact the global scene. A very interesting read on this subject is a book called Tuna: A Love Story. It can be very scientific at times, so it might be a hard read but it is well worth it.

So here is to you, the might torpedo-like tuna! May you continue to swim in our oceans and be a staple on our dinner plates! Until next time!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish Cutthroat Trout Striped Bass

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Finding the Right Balance

Casting a fly rod is a pretty simple matter of physics once you get the hang of things and know what a well presented fly and line looks like in the air and on the water, but it can be a physical workout if you’re not used to the exercise or have equipment that isn’t moderately light or well-balanced in the hand.  We strive very hard to come up with outfits that “just feel right” the moment you pick it up and anglers definitely appreciate the extra effort once he/she is on the water swinging it back and forth a couple hundred times in a morning.  But what makes a well-balanced combination?

 I’m first going to compare throwing a fly rod to shooting a shotgun on the trap or skeet range and shooting geese, as opposed to a field gun for grouse and quail.  I know it may seem a bit strange to look at it this way but you’ll get the connection if you hang in there for a few paragraphs.  Shooting shotguns is all about acquiring the target, mounting the gun smoothly, starting and maintaining a smooth swing while pulling the trigger and passing through the target without pause.  Any hitch in that process will cause problems for sure.  So what does a gun’s balance have to do with that process and how is that compared to Browning Citori 725 Fielda fly rod?

Browning Citori 725 Pro Trap 

 

 

Trap shooters and goose hunters traditionally shoot long barrel shotguns (up to 32 inches) because maintaining a smooth swing through the target during the shot is more important than overall gun weight.  A longer barrel can make the gun feel a bit front heavy but that ensures that the gun remains in motion once the swing has started. Conversely, a true field gun will have somewhat shorter barrels (26 to 28 inches) and lighter stocks because the quickness (the amount of time needed to acquire the target and mount the gun) needs to be emphasized more than maintaining a lengthy swing on birds or targets flying a somewhat predictable path at a steady speed.  Flushing birds need to be acquired quickly and shot before getting out of range or ducking behind cover, thus requiring a light, fast-pointing shotgun.

Fly rod balance can be equally important to the angler but it’s more a matter of angler “feel” and how hard it is to control the rod’s path through the air once in motion.  Front heavy or butt heavy rods can cause fatigue, unnecessary torqueing or twisting, and a sluggish or listless sensation for the angler.  A perfectly balanced rod and reel combo feels light in the hand, accurate, responsive, and is generally a pleasure to throw all day.

Sage TCX 9" 6wt and Orvis Access

So how do you put together a properly balanced outfit?  Thankfully, the reel manufacturers think about this issue when they develop their products and a recent test session wherein I weighed a large number of our most popular reels in six and eight weight models, proved that they’re all pretty similar given the specific line weight they were designed for.  There was only a .5 to 1.0 ounce difference between fifteen different 5/6 weight models.  There was a much greater variation in fourteen 7/8 weight models with the lightest being 5.5 oz. and the heaviest being 10.0 oz.  Much of that difference can be attributed to drag design or the fact that the reel was intended to cover three different rod sizes (7/8/9) instead of the usual two (7/8).  I guess this means that balancing a number six rod is easier, given the similarities in reel weights, than a number eight.      

The rods themselves can vary greatly in physical weight but many times it’s a question of how the weight is distributed rather than the actual total.  Some rods are tip heavy and would require a heavier reel to balance out properly, while others are butt heavy and would benefit from a lighter reel to avoid feeling like you’ve got a brick hanging from the handle.  You just have to test fit a variety of reels to find the one that gives the proper balance for your needs.

Keep in mind also that the rod’s length will affect its balance as will the addition of backing and line.  Short rods have a center of gravity different than standard or long ones so there are instances we’d sell the customer a reel one size smaller than normal to keep the proper balance.  Of course we have to watch the amount of backing going on the reel at this point, but that’s not normally a problem given the rod’s intended purpose.  Short bass rods and ultralight outfits are the most obvious examples of combinations where we need to ensure a compatible match up.

The rod and reel combination pictured above is one of my personal favorites and it fits my hand so well that it seems like Sage called for my input before designing it .  The balance is exactly where I like it and because of that, I can cast all day, put the fly right where I want it, and easily become "one" with the rod.  There's nothing like having a piece of equipment that matches you perfectly so spend a little time building your next outfit.  Pay attention to the balance and how it's going to affect your fishing performance and how much you enjoy waving that stick around.  You'll be glad you did.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Fly Fishing on the Rapidan River

        On the first cool, crisp morning of the fall, Charles and I headed up the rutted road that led to the headwaters of the lovely Rapidan. Arriving at the Meeting Pool, we chatted with three visitors from Korea who had come to hike along the scenic trail that led to Herbert Hoover's Rapidan Camp - a short distance downhill from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

        Charles and I headed downstream at a nice, leisurely pace and breathed in the Autumn air. For the next couple of hours we took turns fishing alternate pools as we worked our way back upstream. We noticed a few mayflies here and there but no signs that the trout were actually looking up and taking them. Nonetheless we decided to fish dry flies and settled on a size 14 Stimulator as an attractive pattern that could be easily spotted by the brookies and the eyes of senior citizens as well.

        We used our favorite cane rods on this historic little river where President Hoover had fished his Hardy "Marvel". My rod was similar to Hoover's as it was 7 and a half feet long and limber and slow in action. It was made for me by Bob Nunley of Poteau, Oklahoma. Bill Harms made the 7 foot 4 inch quadrate rod that Charles chose to fish the Rapidan on this lovely day.

       We fished through the early afternoon and raised a fish or two in nearly every run, pocket and pool. Most of the beautiful little brook trout were too quick for our reflexes but we did manage to bring a couple of them to hand for a moment's admiration and a gentle release.

Come see me in the White River Fly Shop at Bass Pro Shops – Ashland, VA!

Michael C. Simon

www.michaelsimonanglingart.com

Brook Trout Basics Trout Fishing Great Smoky Mountain National Park

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Salmon Fishing on the Salmon River

Upstate NY is know for this time of year.  Salmon fishing on the Salmon River.  Please check out www.dec.gov.ny for all information and fishing regulations for fishing on the Salmon River.  Below is some information from the New York State Fishing Regulations.

Salmon River

Picture of the Salmon River.

The Salmon River, located in Oswego County, stretches 17 miles from the Lighthouse Hill Reservoir in Altmar to where it empties into Lake Ontario at Port Ontario. There are 12 miles of Public Fishing Rights along the river. The Salmon River offers some of the finest sport fishing in the country. Two major fish records have been set in the Salmon River: the Great Lakes record Chinook salmon (47 lbs. 13 oz.) and the world record Coho salmon (33 lbs. 4 oz.).

Public Access

Pine Grove Boat Launch- Pine Grove Rd., off Route 3 half a mile south of route 13 at Port Ontario. Dual gravel ramps. Access to Lake Ontario. 120 cars and trailers.
Port Ontario - Rte 3, Wheelchair access. Parking.
Blackhole - North Jefferson and Bridge Streets in Pulaski.
Long Bridge Pool (Staircase) - South Jefferson Street in Pulaski.
Short Bridge Pool - Rte 11 Downtown Pulaski.
Haldane Community Center - North Jefferson St. and Maple Ave. Parking.
Railroad Bridge Pool - County Rte 2A.
Papermill Pool - County Rte 2A.
Compactor Pool - County Rte 2A. Parking.
Drift Boat Launch - Compactor Pool, County Rte 2A. Parking.
Sportsman Pool (North) - Centerville Rd. Parking.
Sportsman Pool (South) - Rte 13. Parking.
Pineville - Rte 48. Parking.
Trestle Pool (North) - Sheepskin Road. Parking.
Trestle Pool (South) - Rte 13. Parking.
Ellis Cove - Rte 42. Parking.
Altmar North- Rte 52. Parking.
Drift Boat Launch - Rte 52, Altmar. Parking
Lower Fly fishing Section - Rte. 52 Altmar. Parking.
Upper Fly Fishing Section - Rte 22. Parking.
Orwell Brook - Tubbs Rd. Parking.
Trout Brook - Rte. 48. Parking.
 
 

General Fishing Information

Chinook and Coho Salmon

Photo of anglers with large Chinook salmon

Maturing Chinook and Coho salmon returning to the Salmon River usually begin to stage off the Salmon River mouth in late August. Chinook (or King) salmon are the main attraction this time of year. The fish range in size from 15-30 lbs., averaging around 18 lbs. The Great Lakes record Chinook salmon, caught in the Salmon River, weighed 47 lbs. 13 oz. Coho salmon are generally smaller and range in size from 3 to 10 lbs., averaging around 8 lbs. The world record Coho salmon, caught in the Salmon River, weighed 33 lbs. 4 oz. Trolling in the estuary with spoons, dodgers/flies, cut-bait and plugs works well for these staging fish. Salmon usually begin entering the Salmon River around Labor Day.

A caught Salmon laying on leaves.

Once salmon enter the river they are no longer actively feeding. Despite this, they do exhibit behaviors that make them vulnerable to traditional sportfishing techniques. One of these behaviors is aggression, or territoriality, and the other is their attraction to fish eggs or egg shaped lures. The peak of the spawning run usually doesn't occur until the latter half of September and the first half of October. Fish are generally spread throughout the river depending on the spawning stage they are in. Some fish will be making their way upriver (often referred to as running), holding in deeper pools and actively spawning. Fish engaged in the first two activities can be caught on egg sacs, egg imitating flies or plastics and streamers. Fish that are spawning, especially the males, can become very aggressive and will strike gaudy streamers swung past their spawning redds.

Steelhead

A fisherman holding a Steelhead.

The Salmon River offers the opportunity to fish for two strains of steelhead, the Washington strain and the Skamania strain. The Washington, or winter run, begin entering the Salmon River in late October and continue through Spring. They feed aggressively on the abundant salmon eggs in the Fall, thus making it a very good time to go steelhead fishing. Using egg sacs or egg imitating flies and plastics are your best options. Fish that entered the river in the fall will hold over in the deeper pools of the river throughout the winter. Fishing the deeper pools with egg sacs, egg imitating flies or nymphs works well this time of year. Warming periods during the winter may bring new fish into the river. Spawning usually takes place during mid-March and through early April.

After spawning the fish begin to drop back to Lake Ontario. These fish can be very aggressive. These fish feed heavily because they are hungry and finished spawning. They can be caught on plugs, spinners, flies, egg sacs and night crawlers.

Summer run skamania steelhead begin entering the river around June. They tend to run during periods of increased flow. Your best chance to encounter fish is after a heavy rain or planned water release from the hydro plant. The fish remain in the river until they spawn the following spring.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon were native to Lake Ontario. They are fall spawners and start their spawning run as early as July. Atlantic salmon can range from 5 to 20 lbs. Fishing techniques are similar to steelhead fishing methods.

Brown Trout

Brown trout enter the river from mid-September to mid-November. Brown trout are also on a spawning run, but will feed heavily on salmon eggs. It can be difficult to target brown trout, but one option is fishing downstream from actively spawning salmon with egg sacs and egg imitating flies and plastics. Brown trout range from 2 to 20 lbs.

For current fishing information a fishing hotline is available at Region 7 Fishing Hotline or by calling (607) 753-1551.
For current water level on the Salmon River call 1-800-452-1742 code 365123.

Fisheries Management

Fishermen standing in the Salmon river.

The five major gamefish are Chinook and Coho salmon, Atlantic salmon (or landlocked salmon), brown trout, and steelhead. Smallmouth bass are also found in the river. The Salmon River is stocked yearly with around 300,000 Chinook salmon, 80,000 Coho salmon, 120,000 Washington strain steelhead, 40,000 skamania strain steelhead and 30,000 Atlantic salmon. Natural reproduction does take place in the Salmon River but to what extent this adds to the fishery is not known. The Salmon River is an important part of the Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishery. Some of the returning salmon and steelhead to the Salmon River make their way to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. These fish are then used for egg collection and the resulting fish are stocked into many Lake Ontario tributaries, along with the Salmon River. A total of 1.76 million Chinook salmon are stocked annually by NYSDEC into Lake Ontario.

Special Regulations

Salmon River has some special fishing regulations, these can be found in your fishing guide in the section Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations. There are two catch and release fly fishing only areas. Conventional fly fishing equipment is required. The area above the County Rte. 52 bridge in Altmar is open from September 15 to May 15. The upper section is located adjacent to County Rte. 22 above the Salmon River Hatchery and is open April 1 to November 30.

Bass Pro Shops has just what you need to make salmon fishing safe along with giving you the right equipment to make it successful.  Check out www.basspro.com or click on the product below to see just some of what we have to offer.

White River Fly Shop Osprey Chest High Stocking Foot Waders for Men are just what you are looking for. Made of 100% waterproof/breathable membrane material, quick release suspenders, safety belt, inside chest pocket and reinforced knees and seats.  Pair them with the White River Fly Shop Extreme Wading Shoe for Men.   Rubber outsoles with re-moveable metal studs are perfect for slippery conditions.

Check out the  World Wide Sportsman Deceiver Rod/Kingfisher Reel Complete Fly Outfit.  It is one of our best sellers.  Flies?  Stop on by and talk with our knowledgeable associates as to what color or what fly is needed.  They will be happy to direct you.

R.Piedmonte

 

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Spend a Few Days in Matlacha

Matlacha

Folks that aren't familiar with the area may not get the rhyme I was shooting for but just like many other names here in Florida, it's pronounced differently than it looks.  Mat-la-SHAY is the proper phonetic spelling for the name of a small community along the Gulf coast between Pine Island and Cape Coral/Fort Myers.  And if you didn't know you were passing through the community, you'd miss it.  But that's exactly what makes it the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life without traveling a great distance.

Matlacha is a sleepy little town that sets its time by the tides with activity ebbing and flowing with the water flowing under the three bridges and around the mangrove shorelines.  The busiest time of the day is when the fishing activity peaks with the rising tide and the fishing poles outnumber the residents since everyone knows you need more rods than you have fingers.  Redfish, black drum, snook, sheepshead, shark, seatrout, and many others come across the rails when the timing is right but you can look forward to a whole bunch of catfish if it isn’t. A night bite is most popular since this is semitropical and the daytime sun can be a little bit oppressive.  Kayaking around the mangrove islands and dipping into the water occasionally is about the only way to get relief on a particularly hot day.

This is still a small town and you won’t find a McDonalds or a giant souvenir shop full of cheap trinkets that will be broken or lost days after purchase.  Small mom-n-pop shops dot the street for the mile or so through the downtown area, selling things you likely won’t find in many other places, and all of them with a local flair.  Eclectic artwork abounds right alongside the bars and eateries so there’s plenty of things to look at for the visitors that aren’t really into the fishing side of things (although I can’t understand why they wouldn’t be), and every time I turned to look around I spotted another mannequin on a rooftop, a painted lizard, a doll in a rocking chair, or some other eye-catching novelty. 

Matlacha JackSt. James City and Bokeelia are a pair of communities at opposite ends of Pine Island just to the west and they also prove that Florida isn’t only about the big cities or interstate highways.  If you take a day trip over to the actual Gulf shore, the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva provide beach access for the shell collector or someone that just wants to view a spectacular sun set.  Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a birdwatcher’s paradise that shouldn’t be missed either.

Matlacha’s just right for anyone looking to slow life down a little bit so they can enjoy the small things. Watching the pelicans dive, the otters play, or the dolphins herding mullet in the shallows for dinner is the natural pace of things around here, proving that Mother Nature has her own clock without regard for neon lights and reality TV.  Take a day trip or stay the night in one of the cabins or cottages right there along main street, and you’ll find yourself settling into the island rhythm, humming a little tune proclaiming “This is the Way, to Matlacha.”

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Backcountry Fly Fishing Association Presents "The Legend Series"

Steve Huff"The Legend Series" highlights some of the pioneers of the fishing world, and the Backcountry Fly Fishing Association along with Hell's Bay Boatworks is bringing a true industry trailblazer, and Florida Keys expert to Orlando to teach us a few things that will make our time on the water more productive and maybe a little more enjoyable.  Flip Pallot was set to be the original speaker for this event but will not be making an appearance due to unplanned circumstances.

Captain Steve Huff is one of those guys that seems to have seen and done it all when it comes to fishing and exploring the Florida Keys and the Everglades, which is saying a lot considering how many square miles of land and water we're talking about.  He's professionally guided for over 47 years (almost more years than I've been alive) and surely has forgotten more about saltwater angling than most of us will ever pick up by fishing only on weekends and holidays.  He along with Del Brown developed the Merkin Crab which is undoubtedly the quintessential permit fly that also produces well on species they hadn't even planned on, ultimately proving the versatility of the pattern and the ingenuity of the designers.  Steve has led numerous anglers to tournament wins in the Gold Cup, the Islamorada Invitational Bonefish Tournament, and the Islamorada Invitational Fly Bonefish Tournament, as well as many world record tarpon, bonefish, and permit including a 41 1/2 specimen on 8 lb tippet.

Captain Huff's inventiveness and constant search for perfection has proven invaluable time and again when the industry has asked for his expert guidance in developing more advanced flats skiffs, bow platforms, knots, and a myriad of other flats-fishing essentials.  He developed the Huffnagle Knot (I just got the connection) for joining light class tippet to a heavier bite or shock tippet, which is absolutely necessary when pursuing large tarpon such as the ones he chased in the Homosassa region on Florida's Gulf coast.  Steve's 186 pounder back in 1977 would have eclipsed the standing record by more than ten pounds but he never submitted for recognition because he felt that records should be left to anglers.  That's just the kind of guy he is.

Captain Steve Huff was inducted into the IGFA Hall of Fame in 2010, for his many contributions to the sport, but you'd never see this gentleman, whom many would consider to be "The Guy," hold himself in higher regard than others that enjoy the sport.  Humility, commitment, and enthusiasm are evident every time he welcomes an angler onto his boat, and he's surely converted more than one conventional-tackle angler to the fly rods as a patient and adept instructor for the Florida Keys Fly Fishing School.

I'd highly recommend taking a little time out of your busy schedules to attend the presentation.   

No-motor Zone RedfishSpending the night of September 10th with the Backcountry Fly Fishing Association at "The Legend Series" sponsored by Hell's Bay Boatworks is your chance to hear the stories first hand while possibly learning a few things that'll make you a better angler.  Becoming involved in a club made up of a bunch of guys who share your love of fly fishing, fly tying, or just spending time on the water can't be a bad thing in itself.  The club helped me to develop as a fly angler, ultimately leading me to writing about and sharing my love of the sport.  I'm no John Gierach, or Norman Maclean when it comes to storytelling but we all share something in common with Flip and his friends, and that's passion.

Make plans to spend the evening with Steve and some new friends (and possibly some new fishing partners) on Thursday, September 10th.  It's sure to be a gathering you won't soon forget.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

 

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Summer Salmon Fishing in Alaska

            

         Every year in the summer months of June or July, I host a group to visit the Alagnak Lodge in the legendary Bristol Bay region of Alaska. This year my planning had a bitter sweet cloak as one of my best friends who is the marketing manager had left my and formerly his home state of Virginia to move to Kuwait. His wife had accepted an offer to join a pediatric group there and he will continue to be a stay at home parent. He tried valiantly to arrange a schedule for our annual visit but at the last minute was unable to make it.

          This year’s group now consisted of a father with an adult daughter from Virginia and two friends from the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. One of these two guys owns Despedida Lodge. Trust me that’s a long ways to come to go fishing! I could only hope they would think this arduous amount of travel was worth the effort! I had completed the planning for the group to meet in Anchorage and travel from there to King Salmon where we boarded a chartered float plane for the half hour ride over the tundra to the lodge. All went well and we all enjoyed a low calm flight where we saw nesting swans and some groups of the young born earlier.

         Once at the lodge we were shown to our rooms where the guides had placed the luggage while we were provided lunch and a brief introduction to the planned fishing periods. We assembled gear and gathered at the dock. It was explained in pre-trip letters that we would be targeting Chum (Dog) Salmon during our week. This species is known for its explosive strikes and strong, long runs. We attached short four foot 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader to the floating fly lines. The guides provided and tied on their own versions of flies that were pink, purple and mylar blend flash material with loop knots that allowed the flies to articulate. The guide selected a sand bar a short distance from the dock still in view of the lodge and anchored. 

         Alagnak guides performed brief but necessary boat safety explanations then make suggestions about casting weighted flies in the company of others! This is one case when a tight loop is not proper! The fishermen have a choice of casting from the boat or wading on a hard sand bottom in three feet of water. The fish are constantly coming across the sand bar in waves….wave, after wave, after wave. This is great fun for the fishers that are paired. Double hook ups are very, very common. The cast is made at 45 degrees downstream and the fly is allowed to swing in the current until below the angler then left to sway in the current a bit before a slow erratic retrieve.

           During our visit the third week in July the King Salmon (Chinook) should have completed their run….those trolling incoming tides using very stout boat rods with wobbling lures were still catching very large bright fish! Sockeye Salmon (Red Salmon) were still around but not in great numbers. An early Silver (Coho Salmon) was caught the day we departed, early for that run. All salmon species on the Alagnak were long and strong. This river is legendary in supporting species and good upriver Rainbow Trout fishing as well. Fly outs were available daily but no one felt they were needed with what was right at the lodge!

          The steps (48) from the lodge to river seemed a bit steeper this year as I am dangerously close to 8 decades use of life’s calendar. I plan to be there next year and already have a few committed to the group.  If all goes as I plan it I will be returning to Nicaragua for a demonstration to guides of the Rio Indio Lodge.  The New Guinea trip for this November is ALMOST the bottom of my bucket list…we shall see?

Stop by The White River Fly Shop at Bass Pro Shops – Richmond, VA for all your Fly Fishing needs!

  -Harry Robertson

 Pro Staff at Bass Pro Shops - Richmond, VA                                                                    

A busted trip to Nicaragua Fly Fishing on the Big Hole River in Montana

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Fly Fishing on the Big Hole River in Montana

                   

       I was asked several months ago by two brothers who are good friends from California to find a lodge for us to fly fish with no international travel involved. There were stipulations besides the travel. Three full days of guided fishing, and a lodge that would accept and store carefully a case of wine sent before we arrived. I knew just the place, Five Rivers Lodge in Dillon, Montana.

      Five Rivers Lodge is located near legendary rivers such as the Beaverhead, Ruby and Big Hole so that with short drives from the lodge daily floats are easily accessed. The lodge is owned by my friends, a married couple Jay Burgin and Mary Jaque. The have managed and orchestrated the expansions of the property for over thirty years, and still strive daily with the guests’ comfort and expectations their goal.  Jay retired some years ago from developing real estate properties. Mary is a priest who works when called by the local churches as need during the winter months.

      Upon arrival from the Bozeman, Montana airport about an hour away we were ushered to a comfortable, well-appointed room with a stunning view of five mountain ranges in the distance. Each room has a private bath, and opens onto a deck we often enjoyed during cocktail hour. The lodge has the capacity to receive 25 guests.

      Each day of our stay started with a coffee at the ready well before the breakfast gathering of the guests. Fresh fruit, a variety of juices and cereals served in buffet style. Jay handles the kitchen requests with eggs, pancakes and French toast cooked to order for each guest.

       After breakfast we walked by a counter with an array of choices for packing lunch. After making sandwiches and adding choices like boiled eggs, fruits and homemade cookies the assembled meal was packed in plastic boxes, names added. The boxes were picked up by the guides and housed in coolers with a selection of beverages.

        The guides arrive at 8:00 A.M. Jay has an inventory of guides that he can rely on to deliver the type experience guests expect. Each guide will entertain two guests each, and arrives towing a drift bat or zodiac styled craft for the days float trip.

       Water levels were low in the area that had suffered minimal run off from the surrounding mountain ranges in the spring. Our guides selected sections of river, and we stopped to arrange the ferrying service for the truck, buy licenses. We launched and floated, and would find the truck waiting downstream at the prearranged take out. We were told right the first day…you missed the Salmon Fly hatch. I have always missed the Salmon Fly hatch on my trips out west. It is a calendar lottery that I do not attempt to win. We enjoyed fine days casting to the shoreline of the Big Hole with dry flies. Flies that worked well were the Kaufman Stimulator, Dark Elk Hair Caddis, and PMD and Yellow Sally imitations of various colors, all small size 12 delivered on 6 lb. leaders 9’0 long. I found those with 9’0 medium fast tipped rods were able to accomplish the necessary mend for longer fly drifts and rewarded with more strikes. The fishing was best in the afternoons when natural hatches began to show in great numbers. We caught adequate numbers to hold our interest of Browns and Rainbows with a few White Fish. Few fish were under 12” and some over 16”.

         In the afternoon at the conclusion of fishing we would journey back to the lodge to freshen up then gather to be regaled with tales from Jay and other guests about their day, Lyndon is always a pleasant time. I visit many lodges during a year in many countries. I can assure you the evening meal accompanied by lodge selection of wines is as fine as any I have enjoyed.

          On the last day of our stay before leaving the lodge I booked the same period for 2016, and have inked it on my suspense calendar. The two brothers who accompanied me are agreed and several from the Richmond, Virginia area have opted to join me. If any of you would like to enjoy the hypnotism of the beauty of the area and consummate care of this lodge please get in touch by visiting the information to reach me at   WWW.HANOVERFLY.COM

I wish no wind knots for you all,                                                                        

Harry Robertson                                                                                                                                                                                    Bass Pro Shops - Richmond, VA – Pro Staff

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This Time of Year is Pretty "Fly"

It’s my favorite time of year again the months of June and July are when the mulberry start to get ripe and fall from the trees.  And to me that means time to catch carp on the fly.  One of my favorite things to do in the dog days of summer.  I spent most of my day off chasing and stalking carp all over the great Miami river. I found alot of fish in the shallow grass on the banks. I managed to hook and land four fish in the four to seven pound range on a crawfish fly.  I tied in a size six and I was fishing with a six weight rod and a 6/7 weight White River King Fisher Reel that reel is awesome.  If you haven’t seen one you should check it out.

Erics Carp

As the day went on and the temp climbed in to the 90’s,  the carp moved off the bank but I was able to locate some really active gar and with a special Gar fly that I tie. I was able to hook one and it was a bear to land it ripped a hole in my net and cut my hand all within a few minutes.  All in all the day was a success and it goes to show there is some really good fishing close to home. The great Miami river gets better and better every year so let’s all do our best to keep it clean so we can enjoy it for many years to come.

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A Trout Fishing Rod and Reel Setup You Can Be Proud Of

 

             I recently went trout fishing with my father at Cedar Springs in Rural Retreat, Virginia and I had the opportunity to field test some fishing gear.

        The rod I used was the Browning 7 ft. Air Stream Ultra-Light Spinning Rod.  This rod is perfect for trout and panfish because it is lightweight and supersensitive.  It has a High-strength HTSC20 blank, stainless steel guides, premium Fuji reel seat and rubberized cork with a split-grip handle.  The reel I used was the Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Elite #10. It has a 7-bearing system, powerlock instant anti-reverse, double-anodized-aluminum spool, machined-aluminum handle and 5.2:1 ratio.  Understanding ratios and what it means is very easy.  The number before the colon is the number of rotations the spool makes per one complete turn of the reel’s handle.  So a 5.2:1 ratio means the spool revolves 5.2 times with each handle turn.  The larger the first number, the more line retrieved on each turn.  The Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Elite has about 20” IPT or (Inches per Turn) the amount of line reeled in with each full rotation of the handle.  The line I used was the XPS Fluorocarbon 6lb. which is perfect for freshwater spinning or baitcasting.  It has unparalleled abrasion resistance, and is virtually invisible under water.

          I used two different types of bait during my fishing trip.  The first bait I used was a Black Wooly Bugger Fly that was tied by our associates in the Fly Fishing Department.  The second bait I used was the BPS Gold Nitro Spinner bait which is compared to the Mepps #2 Gold Spinner.

        We fished from early morning to about mid-day, and the weather was nice about mid 80s and warm.  We caught about 20 total trout between my father and me.  About 6 were on the fly and the other 14 were on the gold spinner bait.  Overall the fishing trip was a success.  The reel did really well with the drag, and the rod had nice action to it.  I would recommend this rod and reel to anyone because it was successful and performed well.

        Stop by Bass Pro Shops Ashland, VA to talk with me about my trip, and feel free to ask me any questions or concerns you may have.  I look forward to seeing you soon!

Gear Review submitted by:

Patrick Farmer

Fishing Team Lead – Bass Pro Shops, Richmond, VA

Spring Trout Fishing Give Me 45 Minutes -- And I'll Show Unbelievable Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Elite Spinning Combo

 

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