Monday, March 26, 2007

Nighthawk Bay

This past Friday and Saturday I was in Corpus Christi fishing the Laguna Madre. Specifically, I spent all day Friday camping out with my cousin in a spot called Nighthawk Bay. It's a favorite spot of ours. It is well known for holding big redfish and speckled trout.

Nighthawk contains some wonderful water with shin deep clear flats with firm sand bottom that transition to dropoffs into green waist to chest deep water. Although we waded the area thoroughly, we ended catching most of the fish on the sail line. The winds all throughout the day were a steady 15 to 20mph with occasional gusts above that. We had to securely anchor the boat and tie it off to a duck blind while we stayed through the evening.

Iin the early morning any disturbance on the shoreline would generate a strange green glow in the water from the bioluminescence from tiny marines organisms that may have been jellyfish juveniles. After a long night with mostly undersized trout to show for it, we decided to pack it up and rest up for a night of fishing from the kayaks under one of the bay bridges.

That evening we loaded up the kayaks though the winds were still blowing though not as strong as the day before. Still, when we got to the bridge there were 3 foot swells so it looked to be a wet night. My cousin was able to catch a couple of nice redfish and trout while I had problems with my anchor holding. I also had trouble keeping my fly on the bottom with the current moving quickly in the opposite direction of the winds. The fish were on the bottom but the drag on my floating fly line wouldn't let it stay there. After a couple of hours we headed out.

Even though this trip didn't offer a lot of fish or the best weather conditions, I have been in worse and all in all it was great fun getting out in the elements with my cousin. There were also some lessons learned for next time. I hope to do it again soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

First White Bass of 2007

Last night I went down to Lake Travis around midnight to fish dock lights for white bass. With the recent rain the lake is up about 5 feet so the ramp was actually open at the park I went to.

I really enjoy fishing at night. There is something about paddling in the darkness that is exhilarating. You also tend to find larger fish at times feeding at night.

I paddled over to some underwater green lights I remember but there was a big boat parked right above them so I moved on. I went to another dock and tried it for 20 minutes with no luck. I paddled around a long point near deep water and found a big brightly lit boat dock for a single cigar boat. The area seemed very fishy with water from 5 to 8 feet deep and sandy bottom which white bass prefer. The water was stained. On nearly my first cast with my 5wt, something ate my chartreuse/white clouser.

From the way the fish pulled and dove, I could tell it was a white bass and a good one. After netting it, it was a hair under 16". Very nice! A few casts later I caught a smaller male then another that I lost at the boat. I missed a few other subtle strikes. Before leaving around 2am, I caught a keeper largemouth around 15" long. It was getting misty and with the steady 12mph wind it was feeling cold so I quit for the night.

I'll be sure to try this spot another night soon when hopefully the water is clearer and the temps a little warmer.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

After the rain

A couple of days ago we had a good amount rain in the area. Georgetown received about 3" on one day causing the creeks to swell. I expect the San Gabriel was the same and muddy. I figured the lakes would be similar. We were driving by downtown Austin yesterday and Town Lake didn't appear too bad. So, I decided to try it this morning.

The morning was calm and foggy and it felt cooler than it was thanks to the humidity in the air. I decided to take along my 4wt XP since I expected to find small bass and they would be great on the lighter rod.

The river had a little bit of floating debris and when I paddled into Barton Creek I found it really muddy. It took a while to find fish. I had to paddle all the way to the back of the creek where some large drains were dumping water from the aquifer into the creek. I would cast my chartreuse/white clouser minnow across the current and strip it across and would end up with a bass. They were a lot of fun on the light rod in the current. It was a mix of Guadalupe bass and largemouths and one bluegill. I think I probably caught a dozen or so. Most were about 12" in length.

On my way out I met up with a kayak angler I always see at the lake. He's a retired electrician that fishes the lake practically every day. He wanted a report and I told him the creek was pretty muddy. He told me that near Red Bud Isle near the dam on the north part of the lake he had spotted bedding bass.

I drove up to Red Bud and indeed found some bedding bass but after 20 minutes I couldn't get them to bite and was getting hungry so I went home.

This Saturday I may go in search of white bass on Lake Travis. I hope I find some.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sage SLT

It's no secret I truly love Sage's premium fly rods. When you are serious about any sport such as golf, tennis, cycling, etc. you end up appreciating finely made tools. Though I own 4 XPs, I tend to think that in the larger weights they rule which is why the 6wt XP is my favorite stick.

At one time I did own a 7wt SLT and it was a beautiful rod both in looks with its tiger eye colored blank and in the silky smooth casting and feel. Still, I considered my 6wt and 8wt XPs to be better big fly and big fish rods plus having the extra umph to cast the extra 10 feet so I sold the SLT.

At one point I also owned a Sage 8' 4wt Launch. It wasn't a premium rod but it was a perfect little rod for brim on tiny waters. Accurate, smooth and light. I ended up selling the rod because I already had a 4wt XP. I occasionally regret selling it.

I had the opportunity to purchase a new 8' 4wt 4-piece SLT at a 30% discount and it wasn't a difficult decision. I will continue using the 8' 6" 4wt XP for larger water requiring longer casts or mainly for bass but the new 8' 4wt SLT will become my new brim rod. I can't wait.

Fishing is for the birds

This morning I was watching "Sunrise Earth" on the Discovery HD channel and they showed three fishermen from Xiaping, China on small rafts fishing with cormorants.

It was fascinating to watch them as they sent out the birds on the water to gorge on fish in the early morning. It was a beautiful and calm river with a backdrop of steep green mountains all around.

Using trained cormorants to fish is apparently an ancient art in China. The fisherman attach loose rings around the bird's neck which prevents them from completely swallowing the fish. They then retrieve the birds and the fish from their throats. At the end of the fishing session they remove the rings and allow the birds to have some fish.

I've read about another fishing method using kites to troll baits along the surf or reefs to catch fish but I wasn't aware of this style of fishing using trained birds.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Carp fly

I like to tie flies that can serve double duty in freshwater and saltwater. Patterns like Clouser minnows are a perfect example. I wanted to tie a fly that I could use when going after carp, bass and redfish. I patterned the fly after the bonefish Gotcha fly with bead chain eyes on the top of the hook shank to allow the fly to ride hookpoint up.

I wanted a fly with not a lot of flash but with a color that would attract any species so I picked orange. I had some of Whitlock's blends of SLF dubbing that had some crayfish orange so I used that. I also have some of Enrico Puglisi's 3D fibers in orange. I did add a little bit of rootbear flash. Here are the ingredients. Tying one is nothing special but I think it'll be a great little pattern, particularly for carp. I may also tie another in a rust brown color for comparison.

Thread: Rust Brown Uni Thread 6/0
Body: Crawfish Orange SLF dubbing
Eyes: Medium beadchain
Tail: Rootbear Krystal Flash
Wing: Orange EP 3D Fibers
Hook: #4 Tiemco 811S

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Golden Ghost

Carp are sometimes referred to as the "golden ghost". I call them heckuva a lot of fun and a challenge on the fly. I felt like finding some on the San Gabriel river today after such a miserable time a couple of weeks ago.

This time I brought along a new fly pattern I tied that I came up with. I'll post some details on the patten in a separate post. Suffice it to say the pattern is based on the bonefish Gotcha fly with the exception that the body is composed of crawfish orange dubbing and the wing is composed of orange EP 3D Fibers that match the body color. It was the first fly I tied on in the morning.

The weather was cloudy with winds around 10 to 15 mph from the South to Southeast. The water was a bit silty but still fairly clear. I paddled upstream past some rapids and had to position myself in the shallowest parts of the pool to see in the water well enough to sightfish.

After a few casting attempts I finally hooked a 5lb carp. It made some impressive runs. It had the new fly firmly in it's bottom lip. I removed the fly and released the carp.

After repositioning I was able to hookup with a second carp. This one was a jumper! When I finally landed it, it had the fly firmly hooked in the upper lip which is normally how I expect to hook fish with flies in which the hook rides with the point up.

I went up to the flats and found carp all over the place though they were quite spooky and was not able to hookup with any even after switching flies a couple of times. After several showers came through and reduced visibility I headed out.

I was quite happy with the few hours I spent on the river. Particularly with the fact I caught a couple of nice fish and didn't slip and fall on my back.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring is almost here

The Bradford pear and cherry trees are in full bloom now. I've see dozens of deer in neighbors yards. The weather has been beautiful recently with warm temps in the high 70s to low 80s. It's almost time.

Yesterday afternoon I went down to a local park pond to see if the fish were active. They were of course. I caught probably 15 or more greenies and redbreasts on gurglers and stimulators in the hour I was there. A lot of those fish were large and fat. I also saw a couple of small bass around what looked like beds so the spawn is coming.

So, I decided to check out Lake Travis this morning for similar action. The water temp on Lake Travis is about 58 degrees. Still a bit cool for all out bass action.

The weather was great this morning. It was slightly cloudy with light winds which made for an easy paddle from Arkansas Bend park in Lago Vista.

I caught one Guadalupe bass on a gray/white clouser minnow tied with my latest, favorite synthetic material, Enrico Puglisi's EP 3D Fibers. The EP fibers look great in the water and have a subtle action along with great translucency.

I headed to the back of a cove and found a section containing some bass, likely males, preparing nests. I almost had one of them on the clouser but he spit it out before I set the hook.

While I was paddling along shore, I had a black Labrador following me. He did so for about 300 yards and even when I pulled into a pocket where I found shad, really big carp, and gasparegou though I didn't catch any because the dog jumped in the water and started swimming to my kayak. I told the dog not to try and get in my kayak and he swam around me for a bit until I paddled away.

Even though I didn't catch a lot of fish, it was a very nice morning and hopefully there will be more like it to come.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Photo Album

I finally started populating my photo album with fishing photos. I need to look through my home PC for more photos but there are finally some in there. Some of the photos I uploaded really triggered some good memories of fishing trips past.