Friday, May 25, 2007

I could kick myself!

I had an early dinner today and told my wife I was heading to the pond before it started raining again. I grabbed my 2wt and few flies and out the door I went. I forget to take my digital camera and my cell phone. This would be something I would later regret.

I tied on a #14 red ant and did well with it catching lots of green sunfish. Nice ones. I then switched to a #14 BH Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph. I walked around to a low hanging tree and tried practicing a skip cast under it and caught several bluegill and greenies. I also caught a small red ear turtle which wasn't happy with a nymph in its mouth. It would retreat its neck into the shell but I was able to remove the fly. The turtle thanked me with a bite on my finger which was more like a hard pinch. That was one lost photo opportunity to show the fly in the turtle's beak.

I lost count of the fish caught and it was just over an hour's worth of fishing. On one of my last casts I got a good hit and the fish felt sizable but it didn't jump so I figured it wasn't a bass and for a second thought small catfish but I've never seen one in this pond. As I directed the fish to a clearing it looked like a green sunfish but a BIG one!

I landed the mutant greenie and I was astonished how big it was! It had a huge mouth and I placed it next to my rod and remembered exactly where it stopped from the bottom of the reel seat to the top of my cork grip which is 9 1/2 inches! This sunfish was bigger than the 9 inch coppernose bluegill I caught on Lake Travis a couple of years ago. I'm sure this trophy fish (that nobody will believe me due to no photographic evidence) was close to one pound. I quickly let her go and kicked myself for not bringing a camera! Gah!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A great deal

I love to fish and at times when I make trips to remote or secluded areas, I also run the risk of dangers outside the water. For example, camping out 60 miles down the beach on North Padre Island can have potential encounters with wild hogs, rattlesnakes, drug traffickers, etc. and for a while I have been considering carrying a sidearm with me for personal defense. While on the water once I did run into some wild hogs at night and I stayed in the water until they left. My cousin has also had close encounter with wild hogs. He sometimes brings a rifle along but I find that not suitable to carry when walking around the camp. It's probably been almost three years since I shot a firearm though. I don't consider myself a gun nut though I've shot enough pistols to not consider myself a novice plus I did join a local gun range several years ago (I can't find my membership card though).

For almost a year now I have been doing research on polymer frame pistols and shot a Glock and H&K USP but ended up deciding on a Springfield Armory XD-40 yet spent my money last year on new fly rods instead. I considered the polymer pistols because of the weight and their ability to resist harsh saltwater environments that I sometimes find myself in.

I'm on the mailing list for a couple of local outdoor sports stores which let's me get advanced notice of upcoming sales, private sales or unannounced sales. A week ago I got an email about a "balloon" sale. Basically, when you check out, you select a balloon and they pop it to reveal the discount written on a piece of paper inside. The minimum discount you could get would be 10% while the highest was 50% and they throw in a couple 100% discounts (purchase is free) in the lot as well. This sale indicated that it applied to all items in the store including firearms. I figured this was a perfect opportunity to purchase one since the sale was not advertised and the least discount would be 10% though there was a chance for a better discount. I got permission from the wife and she indicated that if I did make a purchase, it would be as a Father's Day gift.

I showed up about 30 minutes after the store opened and already the parking lot was getting full so apparently word had gotten out! I went to the firearms department and stood behind two guys, one of which was buying the same model pistol as myself although in a different caliber. I told the clerk that I wanted the same model except in a .40S&W and he said they still had some. I got through all the paperwork and picked up 150 rounds of ammunition and headed to the checkout. I asked the checker if anyone had gotten the 100% discount balloon which she indicated someone did but for a $7 purchase! Ah man! She asked me to pick a balloon and I told her my favorite color is green so I pointed to a small green one and she popped and read the paper inside...50%! Wow! The folks around me thought I was really lucky! I was able to purchase a $480 pistol for $240! Sometimes, I consider myself truly blessed. I know He watches over me and blesses me.

On my way out I called my brother-in-law who owns a couple of Glocks and he was flabbergasted on my good fortune! We may go out to the range together on Father's Day weekend to compare the SA XD-40 to his Glock. I hope it's a nice day since I'd like to go to the outdoor range. I'm pretty excited now!

Friday, May 18, 2007

I see upcoming fishing opportunities

I had a call from my cousin this week that there are big trout in the surf now. So, it looks as if I'll be heading down for some saltwater fishing within the next few weeks! Cool!

Also, the rain we've had the past few months is really bringing up the levels in the nearby lakes. Lake Travis is now almost 2 feet above the historical May average. Cool. The surface water temperature is now somewhere around 77 F degrees which means there will be some shallow swimming largemouth bass.

My 6 weight is itching to hookup with a 2lb bass that wants to dive deep. Then again, it also wants to hookup with a 6lb carp in the river that takes the line into the backing. Man, a 26" speckled trout sounds good though with its big mustard colored mouth and head thrashing back and forth.

This time of year decisions on where to fish start to get more complicated. Fish the rivers? Fish the surf? Fish the bays? Fish the lakes? Carp? Brim? Bass? Trout? Reds? I love this time of year! Sweet!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yellow as the sun

Mother's Day weekend is a designated fishing-free weekend. The day after Mother's Day, however, is open season once again so this morning around 7:30am I ventured out to one of my favorite ponds to fish for about an hour before work.

The air temperature was a comfortable 62 F degrees so I started with a dry fly, a size #16 orange stimulator to be exact. That drew no strikes so I switched to a #12 black foam beetle and started getting swirls and smacks on it.

The sunfish I caught had striking golden orange/yellow to bright yellow or bright orange bellies. Some days I end up with a certain colors of fish and today was orange and yellow with a few more plain bluegill.

I did manage a couple of largemouth which I did not land but while I was playing a small 'gill a 2 pound largemouth started scaring the beejeebies out of this little 'gill as it's movement stirred an interest in a breakfast snack. I quickly pulled the little guy out before the LMB could make him breakfast.

This was my 6th consecutive outing that I have spotted a snake (harmless water snakes). It seems the snakes are out in force this year. On my last outing on the San Gabriel river I ran into four snakes on the water.

By 8:30am when I got ready to leave, the temperature was up to 72 F degrees. This afternoon's high was close to 90 F degrees. You gotta love Texas weather!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Sunfishes By Jack Ellis

I finished reading through my second Jack Ellis book, this one entitled "The Sunfishes". The first Jack Ellis book I read a couple of years ago was "Bassin' with a Fly Rod" which suggested some radical ideas such as the use of soft plastics on a fly rod rather than just purely flies to catch bass. In my opinion, if I am going to be using soft plastics, I'll use a casting rod to make it more effective.

While "The Sunfishes" does mention the use of plastic worms since bass are essentially sunfish; for the most part it describes using flies since Mr. Ellis would never use soft plastics with trout and he considers large bluegill to be discerning creatures like trout. Based on this attitude, I did like this book much better that the previous book of his that I read.

I also like this book for the intellectual level at which he pursues bluegill. This book is short but packed with a lot of insight into catching trophy bluegill and contains just the kind of careful tactics and technique needed to catch one. The book doesn't contain extraneous and unnecessary text about casting or a lot about tackle but just enough about those things to be helpful.

Mr. Ellis describes the ecosystem in detail that bluegill live in and what they eat and what they like and don't like. He mentions one thing I have known which is that bigger bluegill fall more often for subsurface flies than dry flies though he like I agree that watching a smashing take on a topwater fly is a heck of a lot more exciting!

One of the things I think I will take away from the book more than anything else is to observe the waters I fish much more. That is, slow down and occasionally stop fishing long enough to study the situation or not even start until I have observed my surroundings well. It's obvious that Mr. Ellis does that a lot which has provided him with a lot of data to make him the well rounded angler that he is.

If there were any negatives about this book it would be the lack of color photos of the flies described or the various insects and sunfish. Also, I have heard the fact that a lot of the tactics and tips he offers are localized for the East part of Texas but being I live and fish in Central Texas that to me was actually a positive thing but I can see that not being the case for the folks up north.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Striking sunfish

Late this afternoon after work I had 45 minutes to fish the local park pond. I tied on one fly, a #14 orange stimulator, and decided it would likely be the only fly I'd get to use.

As soon as I started walking up to the water I could see lots of brim near the shore cover. I kept my distance and cast a few feet into the water and *boom* I got a hit! It seemed the sunfish were in a biting mood this afternoon and I was able to get more than a dozen fish to rise to my fly.

I also noticed that the majority of the fish, actually all but one, were green sunfish. These particular fish strike hard and have large mouths and are beautifully colored with green and turquoise and sometimes orange as well. I think they may have been spawning because some of the fish were pretty plump around the belly. All were released carefully as always.

I took some photos of several striking examples of the green sunfish along with the picture of the one darkly banded bluegill.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Run and gun brim fishing

There is a term called "run and gun" fishing I remember hearing and seeing on a fishing show that involved going full throttle in a motorboat across a bay, spotting a school of fish, and then cutting the engine and casting immediately with conventional tackle and baits to the school before they realized what was going on. It looked quite hectic.

This morning I had about an hour free before going to work and I stopped at a park close to work that contains a small spring fed lake that has several smaller retention ponds near it. Each has different size, depth and water clarity. So, I decided to do a kind of "run and gun" of all of them, albeit at a much slower pace and sans boat.

I first fished the main lake which has very clear water and caught several nice fish. The fly they eventually liked most of all was a #14 olive hare's ear. The fish in the shallow were mostly small and pale.

I then moved to the back of the next lake which has green off color water and is only about an acre in size. I know from past experience there are some big fish in this water having seen some 6 pound bass in the shallows during their spawn as well as huge bluegill and rio grande cichlid. This lake is also surrounded by lots of weeds and shaded by trees. I cast in one spot in the shade of some trees and found some brim willing to take a black foam spider. I caught a few nice ones and had some smack the spider pretty hard. When I switched to a bead head olive hare's ear, I caught one really nice redbreast as big as my hand. Nice!

Next, I went over to the last retention pond which is about a quarter acre in size and very shallow. It is mostly clear and fish are spooky demanding long casts to the weedline in the center of the pond. I did manage to catch several good size sunfish and one nice fat yet short bass that I had to horse around with the 2wt as I didn't want him to bury himself in the algae and break off the 5x tippet.

This may not appear to have the heart pounding excitement of the "run and gun" fishing I saw on TV but it sure was fun and satisfying to stink like fish as I went into work today.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Carp fly mods

Back in early March I posted about a new carp fly that I had started using tied with rust or orange EP fibers and dubbing. I made a couple of minor modifications to it since then. One was the addition of segmentation bands with brown permanent marker and the other was the addition of "feelers" using barred rubber legs. I will hopefully have a chance to do some field testing soon. :-)