Monday, July 31, 2006

Lake Travis is hot...literally!

I went yesterday morning for a few hours to fish Lake Travis around Arkansas Bend park in Lago Vista. With the level 25 feet below normal, the ramp there was finally closed. I drove around the point of the park in what is normally underwater and launched the kayak around 6:30am.

The water temperature is around 85 degrees which is probably still comfortable for some bass at night but they likely are suspending in 15 feet or deeper during the rest of the time. Too deep for my fly line.

Still, today was mostly to get a feel for the new XP. The XP cast very similar to the SLT but with a shorter stroke which was good in the kayak. I also got a good 5 to 10 feet more than the SLT on each cast. I had to get used to not overshooting a cast at targets. The XP cast a very bulky #2 Dave's Swimming Frog deer hair diver fairly well but it cast a #6 clouser minnow really well.

I caught one bluegill on the clouser all morning which was no match for the 8wt. :(

Around 9am, I decided to head back in but stopped at one point to test cast a saltwater fly I had tied with heavy chrome barbell eyes in a Chernobyl Shrimp pattern. It was tan with orange and brown. I cast it, but not very efficiently, to shore and as I was stripping it back, something hit it!

I was able to finally feel the backbone in the rod as I continued stripping and the fish seemed to dive. I got it about 10 feet from the kayak when the fish came unbuttoned. Since the fish never surfaced, I can't really say what it was. It could've been a freshwater drum, a carp or nice size bass. I was hoping it was a bass but I guess I won't ever know. One thing for sure, regardless that the fly was meant for saltwater, I surely will give it another try though I will likely tie another with slightly smaller eyes such as one with a 5/32 size hourglass brass eyes instead.

After blindcasting and paddling for about 4 hours, my arm didn't feel bad at all. I did order a Lamson Velocity 3.5 reel just for the XP. This will allow me to carry the 6wt with the current Lamson V3 when I want to cast different size flies without constantly re-tying. It should also give me some extra room on the spool for the WF8F line without removing backing.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Got my new Sage XP today!

I arrived to find a well packaged box containing a Sage tube with the Sage 890-4 XP and unfilled warranty card in it waiting for me! The rod looked absolutely new and in perfect condition! I was just thrilled it arrived in time to try it this weekend.

Now for first impressions. I put the rod together and it was incredibly light. Even though it states it weights 4 3/16 ounces, in the hand it feels lighter than the Sage VT2 6wt I bought not long ago which is around 3 3/8 ounces. It even seems to feel about as light as my Sage SLT 2-piece 7wt which is 3 3/4 ounces. Amazingly well balanced rod. I can see casting this rod all day without any fatigue.

I went ahead and put on my Lamson Velocity 3 reel with a spool of WF8F line and went out to lawn cast it. This rod loads easily and casts so easily and beautifully. It doesn't even feel like a fast action rod. You can cast out to 65 feet with ease! I bet if I get the casting stroke just smooth enough and produce a tighter loop, I can get the line out to 75 feet.

In addition, the XP may be a fast action rod but it does not feel stiff at all. My VT2 6wt seems stiffer in comparison. I wonder if it's the soft tip that makes it not feel as fast or stiff as folks seem to make it out.

Craftsmanship-wise, the XP is on par with the SLT. The cork is very nice as is the rest of the hardware. The wraps and epoxy are immaculate. The dark green color of the blank makes the rod appear black almost except when in direct sunlight when you can see the bands of green. All in all, a very attractive rod!

In summary, I can't wait to fish this rod! I expect it will have the same fish fighting feel as the SLT when a fish is on and should offer at least 10 feet or more in additional casting distance over the 7wt SLT. Man, I now wish most of my other rods were XPs! I consider this is an excellent buy for the $360!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

new sage xp

I told my wife today that I got lucky and immediately she knew it had to do with a fly rod purchase from ebay!

As I mentioned before, I was looking for an 8wt to replace the Scott SAS 8wt I sold a while back. I was considering an Xi2 and XP but found favor with the XP so that at least I could use it in freshwater for bass buggin' for largemouth as well as on the flats for reds and specks. I was concerned with the specialty of the Xi2 and I had sent a question to Sage about the XP to which they replied:

The XP is a fast action rod and the Xi2 is even faster. For current model, the VT2 will be faster than your SLT but not as fast as the XP. I believe the XP is the most versatile rod we produce. The XP is fast but sensitive, it fishes very well and delivers the fly in the most demanding conditions. The XP rods are the best selling rod family that we have ever had for a reason, and the beauty in them really lies in their versatility.

So with that, I felt better about my decision so I kept an eye for a good deal on one on ebay. Finally last weekend I saw several Sage rods with warrantees go on ebay from a seller and I placed the starting bid of $360 on a new 9' 8wt XP 4 piece which retails for $600 and was going to wait until tomorrow night when the auction was scheduled to close to see how I did. Interestingly enough the seller ended all his auctions early today and I won! Come to find out the seller is a fly shop/outfitter in New Hamsphire so I feel good about the purchase. I can't wait to get it and hopefully have a shot soon at fishing it at the coast!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

TCEQ San Gabriel report

I recently got a copy in the mail of the investigation report from a complaint I opened on June 12, 2006 with the Texas Commission om Environmental Quality because of the horrible smell and algae on a part of the San Gabriel river that I fished the weekend before that date.

Here is what the investigation comments said:

A complaint investigation was conducted on June 22, 2006. The complaint alleged that the San Gabriel River had excessive algae and odor below the dam at the San Gabriel Park in Georgetown. No odors or excessive algae were noted at the dam. Downstream from the dam no excessive algae or odors were noted. The City of Georgetown's San Gabriel Wastewater Treatment Plant discharges to the San Gabriel downstream of the dam and was inspected on February 23, 2006. The plant is compliant with it's permitted discharge limits and has reported no excursions since the inspection. There has been a significant rain of almost an inch since the complaint so the algae may have been washed downstream by the river flow. No violations were noted during this complaint investigation.

No Violations Associated to this Investigation
So, I gather that the rain flushed the section of the river enough to where nothing was noted. Oh well, I tried. This makes me think I shouldn't go fishing way downstream of there now. I was hoping to. *sigh*

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Gator trout photo revealed!

I was finally able to get a copy of a photo taken by a friend of my cousin's with a disposable camera back from a trip in March of this year. I had gone to Corpus Christi to fish with him near Bird Island Basin on the Upper Laguna Madre.

The photo shows me holding a 28" gator speckled trout we caught. I believe it was either the first or second trout we caught that evening just after sunset. We also caught some other keeper trout up to 24" that night but that 28" one made them all look small.

It was blowing around 25 knots the whole night until around midnight when heavy fog rolled in. The trout was caught on a sail line and at first I thought we had snagged a small shark until we got a good look at her. She was huge! Her mouth was so large that my cousin was able to stick his fist up to his forearm in that huge mustard colored mouth. We didn't weight her but we estimate she weighed between 7 and 8 lbs.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fun with popper

After all my chores this weekend and with a full moon rising this evening, I went an hour and half before sun down to the pond for some perch-jerkin' with the 4wt. Not too much action but I was able to get some big hits on a #8 trim jim popper. I had a big swirl on it near sundown that maybe was a largemouth. On some successive casts though I let it sit and something sucked it down and the line started moving away and then I set the hook. I was hoping it was a small largemouth bass but ended up being a 8" bluegill! Cool! That made my evening.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Flashy Nymphs

Since I still haven't had an opportunity to fish, I've been tying some new creations for brim using braided krystal flash for bodies as an experiment. If nothing else they do look pretty! My kids also gave me some plastic beads from a necklace building kit and some of the beads are just the right size for these small hooks.

The nymphs pictured have lots of blue in them as well as peacock and ostrich herl. The larger fly is tied on a size 10 wet fly hook with a black metal beadhead and the two smaller ones on size 14 nymph/scud hooks.