Monday, September 22, 2008

Experimental bass seaducer fly

On my last trip to Lake Travis I took along my 6wt but I really wanted to take along my 5wt or even 4wt as I think it would be more fun to fish. However, I really would like to throw a "big" fly to get the attention of bass. I was thinking I could lighten up one of my current patterns and stay away from a lot of zonker strips. Instead, I thought about and decided on modifying the lightweight Seaducer pattern slightly.

The Seaducer is a great shallow water fly. It is composed of mainly feathers so it is light and is great to present to shallow fish in that it falls on the water softly. It is also buoyant and the hackle sheds water easily on the back cast. Those are great characteristics but I do need it to stay below the water so I decided to make a simple modification and add some medium bead chain eyes which are not too heavy but should be enough to get it below the surface.

In order to give it a little bit more "action", I added a small tip of olive grizzly marabou to either side. The idea behind this also serves to change the profile slightly so they look like fins (I hope).

The collar on the fly is composed of red hackle though I may do another one in black or olive.

The components of the pictured fly are:
  • Gamakatsu size #2 SS15 hook (a light hook)
  • Black medium bead chain eyes
  • Four Olive/Black rooster saddle feathers
  • Two grizzly marabou feathers
  • Peacock flash
  • Hot red saddle hackle
  • Red 6/0 UNI thread
The resulting fly is ample in size to attract a bass but it is also very light and I expect that I will be able to cast it on my 5wt with no problems. We'll have to see how it fishes though. I am kind of eager to go back to the lake this weekend and try some of these experiments. I'll see what other experimental flies I can come up with before then.

EDIT: It has come to my attention that this fly pattern is essentially a cross between a Whistler and a Seaducer fly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Arkansas Bend at Lake Travis

I think the last time I went fishing around Arkansas Bend at Lake Travis was probably a year ago. I did fish a different part of the lake in February though. Driving down the road as I approached the lake from the top of a hill, I could tell that the water level was low once again. I hoped that the water temperature was the only other thing that fallen in the hopes this would start giving the fish the idea Autumn is approaching and to start feeding aggressively.

According to lake level data, the lake is down by around 22 feet. A couple of years ago we had a really bad drought where the lake dropped by almost 40 feet. Thanks to rains in the spring of 2007, the lake recovered nicely.

I was able to park on the shore which is normally underwater and launch my kayak in calm, clear water. The air temperature was around 70 degrees and water was warmer than that at about 81 degrees. A power boat had started working the point where I was launch and the angler caught a nice bass on what looked to be a spinnerbait as I was paddling to the next point.

The first fly I tied on was a size #2 Gurgler top water fly in yellow and orange. It wasn't long before I had a bite. It was a big brim. As I worked the point I kept catching these big brim and seemed that each was bigger than the rest. I was really hoping for a bass.

I entered a nearby cove and worked my way around it and continued to catch big brim on minnow flies and managed one small bass. I then moved on and started working around the swimming platforms. Same pattern occurred on all of them as I would catch big brim along the shady side of the platform.

As I was undoing a knot on my fly line I felt a large tug and thought I had finally caught a decent bass. It tuned out to be a really big coppernose which is a hybrid type bluegill found in the lake that can be identified by a copper or golden color near the top of its head.

As I looked up I saw a big roadrunner trying to catch a meal along the grass and I paddled my way back.

Before leaving for the day, I started fishing around the point where my truck was located trying to catch a decent size bass. I was stripping my minnow back to the kayak when I saw not one but a school of four bass following it! They looked to have been about two pounds each! But they continued to follow it to the kayak, saw me and departed. Nuts!

I decided to switch to a black woolly bugger and work it slowly. After a few casts I felt some resistance and was fighting a very nice Guadalupe bass. I netted it, photographed and admired it and then released it. I fished for a little while longer but it was tough with all the ski boats, cigar boats and personal water craft making lots of waves and stirring up the bottom so I got out and headed home.

It was beautiful morning to be fishing on the lake. The water was a pretty green color and fish were caught. I'm not sure I could ask for anything more though I am hoping we get some rain soon so the lakes don't get any lower. I'll try fishing the lake after the next real cold front and hopefully I will catch some more bass.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I didn't do any fishing on my own this week as I was feeling somewhat under the weather with a chest cold. This afternoon while I was out in the backyard with my son, plinking with the pellet gun, he asked me to take him to the pond. My wife went to a movie and I took all three of my kids with me.

The water at the pond was really clear so I expected the fish to be somewhat spooky. The amount of grass in the shallower sections made for some great ambush points for bass. I explained this to my oldest girl. She tried her best but this was one of those rare days (which I have had in the past) where the turtles are in an aggressive feeding mood.

The pond is loaded with small red-ear turtles. You could see them poking their heads out of the water near where the bait fell. You could also see them making a bee line towards it and eventually picking it up. Sometimes as many as three or more would fight to get to the bait. Needless to say, this made for difficult fishing as the "bites" where mostly the turtles picking up the bait. Thankfully their tough beaks avoided getting hooked though a couple came close.

My son did manage to hook and land one bass which he was really excited about. Those pesky red-ear turtles ruled the day though. Turtling is a rare skill. That is, when they get in these moods it's rare you can catch any fish. We'll catch them next time...the fish I mean.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Living Waters Fly Fishing Blog

Chris Johnson from Living Waters Fly Fishing in Round Rock has started a blog over at to pass on news about special sales, new products, area fishing reports, and other useful information. Should be a good one to follow! Good idea Chris!

That reminds me, I need to stop by the shop and pick up some more of that Opal colored mylar braid to tie up some more Cypert Mylar Minnows! ;-)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tying a Texas favorite, the Cypert Mylar Minnow

Those of us in Central Texas that have fly fished for any length of time have heard of the Cypert's Mylar Minnow developed by area fly fishing master tier Charlie Cypert.

The Cypert minnow is probably the #1 fly recommended to folks during the annual white bass spawn. The recommendation is due to its ability to be used down near the bottom where the fish are typically. To help avoid snags while on the bottom, it is tied with bead chain eyes on top of the hook allowing it to ride hook up.

As effective as it is, it is also a simple fly to tie with just five basic materials:
  • 2x to 4x long streamer hook
  • bead chain for the eyes
  • thread
  • woolly bugger chenille
  • Mylar tubing
I wanted to tie some of these flies to send to my friend Rick up near Fort Worth so I picked up some of the materials from Livings Water fly shop and got a quick instruction from Chris on how to go about tying them.

I also found some instructions in this thread at one of my favorite Texas fly fishing web sites at on how to tie them. This is another web page containing some tying information. Here is the excerpt from one of the posts by mickfly that gives the steps:

1. Place a streamer hook in the vise and tie in a pair of bead chain eyes about one hook eye width behind the eye, then spiral wrap the thread back along the shank to the bend.

2. Tie in a piece of medium chenille at the hook bend, then bring the chenille straight forward and wrap around one eye of the beadchain, then back to the bend.

3. Take two or three tight wraps around the chenille (still at the hook bend), then bring the chenille forward around the other eye and back to the bend. Tie it off and snip excess.

4. Take a length of mylar tubing that is four times the shank length, double it, and slowly work the middle over the hook eye.

5. Bring the mylar back to the bend so it sits above and below the chenille, like the back and belly. Take several tight wraps around the mylar to hold it in place, then tie off and whip finish at the bend.

6. Trim the tail (excess mylar) to the desired length, then use the tip of the scissors to comb out the tail.

7. Catch fish.

The only differences I did from the above instructions was that I wrapped the chenille instead of looping it, used red thread for all the wrapping and I added a few drop of glue to the top and bottom of the chenille just before putting down the mylar cord.

The flies in the photo were tied using:
  • Size #6 4x long streamer hooks
  • Medium silver bead chain
  • Wapsi small wooly bugger chenille in light gray color
  • Orange/red 6/0 UNI thread
  • Wapsi small mirage cord in opal color
I had a little bit of cord left so I tied two smaller versions on size 8 streamer hooks (TMC 5262).

I think I need to consider tapering the fly better towards the "tail" area next time but for a first attempt I don't think they turned out too bad. I hope Rick likes them.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Nice day to fish and explore Brushy Creek

It seems like we are almost done with summer. Clear nights and drier air are making for cooler nights. This morning was really nice so I headed out to the same spot at Brushy Creek with the hope of also exploring further upstream this time.

Not long after getting in the water I caught a small green sunfish and while drifting the black foam spider down the center of the creek, I caught a nice little bass that shot straight up out of the water and I had to maintain pressure on so it wouldn't wrap itself around a rock or branch along the shoreline.

Typical of a river bass, it fought hard but eventually gave in and I brought it to hand. It was about 12 inches long and spunky. The fish was cool to the touch as were all the other fish I caught as the water flowing through the shade of the trees was also cool.

Moving upstream, I caught more green sunfish and another small bass. In a new-to-me narrow section that had a pool between two and three feet deep I finally caught another Rio Grande Cichlid. This one seemed a little different than others and I wonder if maybe it had bred with some other fish though I am positive it is a Rio as you can see from the photo.

About this time, a deer bolted from the brush and scared the crap out of me. Of course there are so many deer in the area that I was bound to come across one. I kept on.

I eventually got to a fork and stayed to the left until I got to a wide and slower section of the creek and could see small catfish but was not able to entice one. I caught some more green sunfish that were big enough that I could stick my thumb in the their mouths to lip them. I headed back downstream and caught a few more sunfish before leaving.

It was a lovely time on the water. I saw blooming red salvia plants along the shore and big red crayfish in the clear water. Vultures were perched high up in one of the trees. Some golden and red leaves occasionally dropped to the water so I expect Autumn is not to far off.

As soon as Fall weather starts to come, I really need to revisit my old fishing spots on Lake Travis. I look forward to it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rio Fest on Brushy Creek

Having grown up in deep south Texas, a.k.a. the Rio Grande Valley, I am aware that the city of Harlingen has an annual festival called RioFest that occurs in the spring. Today I had a rio fest of my own but it was in no way related to the one just mentioned.

This afternoon, I decided to beat the close to 100 degree heat by wet wading the cool tree lined waters of Brushy Creek. I had gotten a tip from Chris at the Living Waters fly shop on Saturday of new spot to try.

This new spot was nice. There was plenty of room to cast the 8'6" 4wt I brought with me. I was in the water around 5pm and proceeded to wade and fish upstream. After a few casts drifting a black foam spider, I caught a tiny bass. I then caught a green sunfish.

Not long after having caught a few more green sunfish, I caught a nice Rio Grande Cichlid. This made the fourth one this year. Two of the other three had been caught in this same creek though further downstream and the other on the San Gabriel river.

The Rios can be pretty fish and kind of ugly at other times. They have brilliant turqoise spots all over and black bars or large dots closer to their tails. They have bright yellow eyes as well. I have seen some that have had what look like red bumps or sores along both sides of their bodies. Some look half black and half ash white while in the water but look a bit different once removed from the water. It is an interesting species to run across.

About 100 yards downstream I saw a man and little girl walking in the water so I started moving upstream. I continued catching green sunfish, small bass, and an occasional redbreast sunfish. However, I also caught two more Rios which sort of surprised me.

I headed upstream about another 200 yards and caught two more Rio Grande Cichlids. This made a total of five Rio Grande Cichlids which is the most I have ever caught at any one time and this was only in two hours of fishing. By contrast, last year I think I only caught two.

I recorded the spots where I caught the Rios to memory in case a fishing buddy ever wants to record a new unique species to try and catch on the fly.

The Rio Grande is a rare prize for some fly fishers. It is also selective on the flies it takes. I was able to catch them mostly on a #10 olive bead head nymph and on a #10 orange and pearl Cypert's mylar minnow.

It was refreshing to be in cool running water again and I am very thankful to have caught some fish that I don't get to catch that often. I'll be back some other day for sure. Maybe I will have my own annual Rio Fest, too.

Hurricane Gustav

My cousin sent me some video he took earlier today that includes some incredible footage of an unexpected surge that came into the beach and reached all the way to the dunes. He was recording the huge waves pounding Bob Hall pier on the gulf side of North Padre Island when the big wave came on in (most likely thanks to Hurricane Gustav). He also mentioned there were dozens of dead stingrays along the beach.