Spoon-fed Reds

I just got back from a fishing trip to Port Aransas on the Texas coast. It was a flats thing … kayaks, fly rods, tailing reds, sight fishing … you know the drill. Not so this time. The wind blew like hell and the flats lay smothered in heavy fog most of the time. Sight fishing was out of the question, so the exercise rolled over to blind casting.

However, good news follows. The redfish were in the shallows and on the prowl. All it took was a little flash to get their attention … flash provided in the form of gold spoon flies.

I made these spoons using light-cured resin instead of epoxy and I like the results. I will post the recipe and tying instructions later.

Wiped Out

Wipers just might be the hardest fighting fresh-water game fish in America, thanks in part to the phenomenon of hybrid vigor.  Hybrid vigor is the term that biologists use to describe the enhanced strength and stamina that occurs in the sterile offspring of two closely related but different species. The mule is one example, the wiper is another.

Catching wipers by any method is great fun, but catching them on a fly rod is in a league all its own. Long-distance casting, jolting strikes and dogged battles with a powerful and stubborn fish are all part of a game that reaches a higher plateau when played with fly rods. Fly-fishing for wipers is not a difficult sport, but the transition from trout to wipers does require a word of caution.

Continue reading

Redfish Redux

I know the odds of the same group of redfish being in the same spot two days in a row are impossibly high. But there they were, five redfish in a tight pod with their heads down rooting in the same patch of grass.

I dropped the anchor and slid over the side of the kayak into calf-deep water.

And just as it had happened the previous morning, the lead fish pulled its head out of the sea grass and slurped my chartruese popper from the surface.

Same patch of grass, same fly, same long run in the same direction.

Same redfish?

Eleven Mile Carp

Fly fishing the flats for cruising carp

Fly fishing the flats for cruising carp

I like fly fishing flatwater. Not just in spring, when runoff shuts down the rivers, but anytime between ice-off and ice-up. Turn me out on a quiet stretch of shoreline with a fly rod and a box of flies, and I will not bother the rest of the herd for hours.

And I am not fussy about the fish species or the reservoir, any fish that frequents the shorelines in either cold or warm bodies of water will do. I target mountain park reservoirs for large trout, especially during the major insect hatches, and I try to fish the prime times in spring and fall when pike and wipers come within fly range.

However, in June, the events occurring at Eleven Mile Reservoir take precedence over all others. In addition to hit-and-miss fishing for pike, there is sure-fire fishing for carp.

carp_gripCarping the flats at Eleven Mile is all about sight fishing, which I consider the best fishing of all. Here, you stalk the shoreline, scanning the clear water until you spot a carp feeding on the flats. Keeping a low profile, you load the rod, drop a fly in the carp’s path, and twitch it slowly along the bottom. The tension builds as the carp locks in on the fly and moves in for a closer look. If all goes well and the fly passes the inspection, you will see the carp pucker its lips and inhale the fly.

carp_fliesThe best flies I have found for the flats are small crayfish imitations tied with soft and fuzzy materials that “breathe” when worked slowly along the bottom. I prefer to weight them with bead-chain or small lead dumbbell eyes, so the fly rides with the hook up – similar to bonefish patterns. Olives, browns, and burnt orange colors seem to work the best. Other flies that will take carp include those that imitate aquatic insects, especially scuds.

These flies will have more action if you attach them with a loop knot such as the No-Slip Loop Knot.

You will find carp in the shallows along the south shore from the inlet all the way down to Witcher’s Cove. Some locations are better than others are but my favorite stretch is around Howbert Point. The carp will spawn here later, but for now, they are here to feed.



Ice-out Trout

In the pre-dawn hours of a frigid night in mid-April, anglers that have traveled from far and near are lined up in front of the closed gates at Spinney Mountain Reservoir in central Colorado.

The early birds have been here for hours, arriving the evening before and spending the night in their vehicles. Being here and being  part of the  opening day scramble at  Spinney has become a tradition among scores of flatwater anglers.  Continue reading

A Boat for Every Belly

The early models were simple devices, consisting of nothing more than a truck inner-tube fitted with a low-slung canvas seat, where upon the angler sat waste-deep in the water and propelled himself backward with a set of swim fins.

Although simple, the modified inner-tube  was a winner. It provided anglers an inexpensive method for getting fishing offshore without the hassles and limitations associated with a convention boat. Nobody appears to know or to care when the inner-tube boat was pressed into fishing service. Within days of its invention would be my guess. Continue reading


canoe0002The simple truths are the hardest to come by.

The canoe, in cultural variations of its basic form, is deeply embedded in ancient civilizations worldwide. Elegant in appearance, graceful in motion, and unsurpassed in simplicity, the canoe has opened up the wilderness of inland waters and the backcountry expanses of coastal estuaries to the adventurous.

In the fishing world, canoes are faster than a float tube, dryer than a kayak, able to transport hundreds of pounds of gear and people, and look good doing it.

Fly rods and canoes are a natural fit.