Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fish, Eat, Sleep...Repeat!

I just got back this Sunday afternoon from spending almost three days in Corpus Christi for a few days fishing with my cousin. It's good to be back home.

I arrived in Corpus on Thursday afternoon. As soon as my cousin got home from work and we had dinner we prepared for some fishing that evening at a new spot my cousin indicated reds could be caught on the fly in abundance. No kayaks though since he said they could be caught from shore. I was determined to catch a redfish on my new XP 8wt on this trip.

First we stopped at the new Packery Channel. We noticed that there were lots of pinfish and perch dead onshore as if from a fishkill. We also found three reds in about a foot of water. I didn't have my fly rod then so I went back to the truck to get my rod and when I got back there was a woman in the water and she spooked two of the reds! My cousin had fortuntely caught the third one but it was an undersized red and was released. The fishkill made us think this wasn't a good place to be so we left so my cousin could show me a couple of spots for when I went solo fishing in the kayak the next morning. BTW, my cousin later reported the fish kill to the proper authorities.

We drove down the road to an entrance to a place called Deadman's Hole. We drove down the road trying to figure out a path close to the water and my cousin didn't switch his truck into 4wd mode and we got stuck in some clay mud. It was no use, we were stuck pretty bad. We ended up calling my cousin's wife to bring her jeep before sunset to tow us out which she did. In the process of trying to get us out, I accidently broke the tip off my cousin's spinning rod so no fishing that night and we went back to rest so I could head out early the next morning to Wilson's Cut and head to the back lakes of Shamrock Cove while my cousin was at work.

The next morning I left the house at 5am and with my handheld GPS, found the entrance to Wilson's Cut and in the darkness got everything ready by 6am to put in with kayak and fly rod and make the paddle out to Shamrock Cove. The wind this morning was picking up between 15 to 20 mph from the South to Southeast. I expected an easy paddle out but it was going to be a bear paddling back into the wind later in the morning.

I found someone fishing one of the lake entrances in a power boat and so I kept going and found a sandbar and tidal pool that looked to contain some tails. Large tails though they looked grey not red without a dot so I thought sharks or maybe big black drum but something didn't look right. Regardless, I beached on the sandbar and spent about 15 minutes casting to these tails until I hooked into whatever it was and it shot out like a bat out of hell! It put a serious bend in my 8wt and took my reel well into the backing. Eventually it tired and I was able to bring it closer and I could see splashing and realized it was a big stingray!

I went ahead and beached the ray and then purposely broke the leader since I wasn't getting anywhere near with it trashing it's tail around. I estimated the ray was around four feet wide.

I eventually left this spot and paddled into a nice shallow lake with a few tiny islands and mangroves. The water in there was clear and I could see open sand potholes amongst the grass that were ideal to cast into. I decided to switch to a gurgler topwater fly. I eventually found two tailing redfish amongst mere inches of grass and water and cast to them but my fly got blown behind them though one turned and started going after it and then it saw me and they spooked! Man!

I eventually went back to the first lake where the power boat had been and headed to a large mangrove area that had lots of baitfish in it. I cast to a spot between the shore and the grassline and got a monster hit from a redfish and took off directly along the shoreline and buried itself in grass and I eventually got it to my legs. It was about a 23" redfish! Success! I didn't have my net so when I started removing the grass from all around it's head so I could get a good grip on it it threw the hook and left. No matter, I had intentions of releasing it but didn't get a photo. Still, I was feeling really excited now.

I found another kayaker in the lake and spoke to him for a bit. He had caught one keeper trout and redfish on topwaters. It was almost 11am and so I started back through the lake trying to find an entrance back into the cut for the paddle back. I found a small grassy island with an oyster bed in front of it and stayed there for a bit. The sun was high so I could see fish much better and got a cast at a decent redfish that was at least 26". I saw the copper color of it strike my gurgler and miss. It's head came right out of the water! Cool! It charged my fly once more and then saw me and spooked. This was exciting and frustrating all at the same time. Sightfishing is a really exciting way to fish and it reminded me a lot of flyfishing for carp.

I then headed out around 12pm and it was a long tough paddle into the wind but I needed to rest for fishing that evening.

That evening we went out to Bird Island Basin on Padre Island for sail line fishing. It was a slow night and we had only one bite at midnight though it was 28" redfish. By 2am, we had one more 22" redfish and then we let the line stay out while we slept in the truck. At 5am on Saturday morning we checked the line and had a 29" redfish on it which we tagged. The fish was a striking red as opposed to copper color. By 6am we were packing up to head home. We ate breakfast, cleaned up and went to take another 2 hour nap and then got up around 11:30am to prepare for fishing the Shamrock Cove back lakes again.

My cousin hadn't been on his kayak or at Shamrock for a while though he has fished it a hundred times. The wind was still going a 18mph - 25mph. We fished it for about four hours and only caught two undersized reds and trout. The water was no more than a foot in most places. I did beach the kayak at a mangrove island that was a duck blind and found about four small reds on the opposite side in the tall grass that I inadvertently spooked.

We paddled back out and left and considered our options on the way home. We could try fishing the lights under one of the causeway bridges but the wind seemed to keep getting stronger and we were both pretty beat so we decided to take his wife out for dinner instead and clean the fish we had along with all our gear and so we did.

As always, my trip was an adventure (they always are). I learned several things and had a couple of first time events for me that I will always try and remember.

Here is a photo of the 29" redfish and also a photo of all three we caught that one night. As you can see, my fishing shirt is all puffed up. That's from the strong winds behind me. If you only knew how sore I was that first day of paddling several miles in the wind. I actually feel better today. Thank goodness for ibuprofen! :)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Two more for the quiver

I got a call back from my local fly shop, Sportsman's Finest, that they could offer a 25% discount on the XP. I told them that was good enough though I wish it had been a deeper discount. Still, seeing as I haven't really supported the only real fly shop in the area since last December when I purchased a Sage Launch from them, I was intent on giving them my business. BTW, the fly shop in Cabela's south of Austin doesn't count. They just aren't the same when it comes to a true fly shop.

I went down and picked up the Sage XP 691-4 I had cast and really loved. I asked if the same discount would apply to a XP 590-4. I already have a Sage Launch 590-4 but really wanted to pick up another XP since I was there so I cast it and there is something about those rods that just scream performance so I purchased it, too.

Now to sell the Sage VT2 and Sage Launch since I don't expect to be using them now and it will help offset the total cost I paid though I did save $300 so it wasn't all that bad.

I also got an email from my cousin asking me to come fish the coast with him the weekend of August 26 so you bet I will be taking both the XP 691-4 and 890-4. I hope to baptize at least one or both in the brine on some reds or trout!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Morning Star Lanyard

I often head to the the local ponds with my 4wt to catch the occassional brim and go pretty light and carry just the essentials. Usually it's a small fly box with a few choice flies, a line clipper and hemostat. I usually just stuff them in pockets but often times I wear a polo shirt so it means stuffing them in my jeans which is uncomfortable and I've lost at least three hemostats that way.

Enter a fly fishing lanyard from Morning Star Lanyards I bought a week or so ago. It's very well thought out in design and just what I need to carry those essentials in a convenient place...around my neck. The lanyard also has an alligator clip so I can attach it to my shirt so it doesn't move much. I hate anything pulling on my neck but the weight of the lanyard is neglible. You soon forget it's there except if you run and I don't run with a fly rod in hand. Besides the clip, there is a neoprene fly patch and a retractor which I use for holding the hemostats. I wish the rectractor line was also braided steel with a nylon covering like the lanyard itself rather than braided nylon which may added some additional service life to it. The pad at the top of the lanyard is very comfortable.

I really don't know why I didn't try one before but will certainly keep using it. It's great! I really want to see if the lanyard continues to be comfortable when sitting in the kayak with my PFD on. I think it will but will have to test it further.

The only negative about wearing this lanyard is that my wife refers to it as my "fly fishing necklace". I really hate that. :(

Second deer hair fly

OK, my first attempt at a deer hair fly was horrible. Here is my second attempt. A little bit better. I would have said a whole lot better but I think I set the eyes too far ahead and didn't pack more hair but at least it doesn't look as butchered as the first one.

Again, you can tell how fond I am of orange. I even put some orange cactus chenille under the flaired out deer hair near the hookbend for a little flash.

I have yet to test to see how the fly even behaves in the water.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Southern Fly Fisher

I was looking around for information on Sage's new replacement for the XP called the "Z-Axis" and ran across another blogger with a very nice blog containing the information about it plus a whole lot more. It was The Southern Fly Fisher and I'll be visiting it more often.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sage XP being discontinued?

There is a recent discussion in the Fly Anglers Online website's forum discussing that as of August 1, the Sage XP are being discontinued by Sage and dealers are starting to offer discounts of 25% to 40 % !

Now I wonder about that deal I got wasn't just one of those discounts on a discontinued model. The price I paid was exactly 40% off original price after all. It makes sense; there were a lot of XP s but then again there were also a lot of Xi2s. I also have noticed that the San Francisco fly shop Leland's is selling several new XPs on e-bay. Maybe there is some fact to this rumor.

But how can there be something better to replace the XP? Maybe it's time to call the local fly shop and see what I can pay for an XP 691-4.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Another Borski Fly

Here's yet another photo of a Borski fly I've tied. This one is the Haystack but with my favorite shade of cactus chenille, orange.

First attempt spinning deer hair

I figured it was about time to try and create my first fly with spun deer hair so I chose another Borski fly, the Bonefish Slider which supposedly works on redfish as well.

Well, it was a messy 30 minutes to create my first spun deer hair fly and apperently I need more practice with it. I did learn that I need to pull harder, pack it tighter and don't over wrap. I also learned that I should buy a new razor instead of trying to use a recycled old dull one which should help speed out trimming which ended up being more like sawing this time.

Here is the fly. You can see some extra red thread showing through the head which kind looks like gills so maybe it'll pass for them though this is supposed to look like a shrimp and last I remember they don't have gills. Anyways, I also had trouble spinning the hair over the eyes without getting any in the hook eye which is why it's all thread instead.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chernobyl Shrimp or Chernobyl Craw?

In an earlier entry I mentioned how I had tested out another Borski design called a Chernobyl Shrimp but in a freshwater lake and got a monster hit. I was thinking that maybe the fish thought the fly resembled a crawfish.

I tied a new variation of the same fly but with a larger hook (#2) and longer cactus chenille body in orange with root beer hackle collar and lighter weight eyes (5/32" nickel I-Balz) so I can hopefully cast it with my 7wt or maybe even 6wt. I still kept the tan craft hair tail as the original with purple bars added with permanent marker.

It's still basically a Chernobyl Shrimp and should still work in the salt but I'm pretty sure it will work in freshwater, too. Only one way to find out...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fishin' at the YMCA lake

I had to do some grocery shopping but took the 4wt and my younger two kids first to the nearby YMCA to fish their lake for a bit. I thought maybe spending 45 minutes at the Y would help me unwind and the kids would have some time with dad and mom some time for herself at home, too.

The kids wanted to play tether-ball first so we did and then walked down to the water. I found a spot beneath some cedar trees where I could see sandy spots were brim had been and proceeded catchin' bluegills, greenies and red-breasted sunfish on almost every cast. I was using a size #14 hare ear's n ymph in olive. The kids preferred to help me unhook each fish and return it to the water insead of casting. They were also busy with a couple of plastic cups catching tiny baitfish and releasing them.

I did end up catching one small bass at the end before my time was up. It seems like I caught and released at least 15 sunfish in those 30 minutes of fishin'. It was actually pretty nice.

First thing I did though when we got to the grocery store was take the kids to the restroom so they could wash the fish stink from their little hands. :)