Saturday, November 24, 2012

Long flyfishing season winding down

The 2012 flyfishing season is ending a lot like it started - with brown trout on ice. Back in the spring, my first trout was a brown that I landed while standing on an ice shelf.
Yesterday and today, I landed more brown trout that I skidded up on the ice and snow along the riverbank. Several trout also came out from beneath ice shelves along the shore to attack my woolly bugger.
The prolonged fall has yet to give way to winter here in southern Wyoming, but I know that flyfishing is all on borrowed time as December approaches.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Salmon fishing in Wyoming?

You don't need to travel all the way to Alaska to catch salmon. Kokanee salmon can be caught on the fly in Wyoming lakes. The spawning fish turn bright orange in the fall and school up close to shore within easy casting distance.
I caught at least 20 today on a woolly bugger from shore. They gave a decent fight and are just incredible looking. I wouldn't be surprised if they glow in the dark under tonight's harvest moon.
It's not quite Alaska, but it's a lot shorter trip.

Juneau, Alaska, pink salmon fishing video at last

My Flip camera mysteriously stopped working the one day I wanted to shoot some video of salmon fishing in Alaska back in July. Luckily, Kristina's boyfriend Joey was with me and had a smart phone that could shoot some video.
I told him to get ready because I was fixin' to catch a salmon that cast, and I did. He didn't start  shooting after I hooked up but got most of the fight. The pink salmon turned out to be probably the smallest fish of the trip, but all salmon fight hard. Check it out.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Alaska: Not half-bad salmon fishing

Alaska has fascinated me since I was a kid reading stories in Outdoor Life about hunting and fishing in our 49th state. I finally got to fish there this summer on a weeklong trip to Juneau.
The great thing about Juneau is you don't need to spend thousands of dollars on a guided trip to a wilderness lodge. All I needed was a motel and a rental car. Fishing off the 45-mile Juneau road system provided me all the salmon action I'd ever dreamed of.
My expectations were high for the trip, but in the back of my mind, doubts lingered. Would I be able to find salmon? Would I be able to catch them on a fly rod? Would the 7-weight I bought for the trip be enough rod for these strong fish?
The fishing far exceeded my high expectations. On my first cast in Echo Cove, I had a hard hit and was so surprised I missed the hook-set. For the next hour, it was a fish every cast. The next hour, it slowed down to a fish about every three casts. By then, my arm was sore and I was ready to quit.
A chum salmon caught on an egg pattern.

A male pink salmon, also called a humpy.

A bright female pink salmon.

My one outing for chum salmon was a bit more challenging.  There were so many chums milling around where Sheep Creek entered the bay that you couldn't help foul-hooking them. I caught a few that actually took the egg pattern, but most were snagged in the tail, fins, back, etc. Landing a 15-pound salmon hooked in the tail takes a while. It was crazy fun.
Now that I've been there and done that, another trip to Alaska is on my list. The next time, I want to focus more on fishing egg patterns to the dolly varden that follow the salmon up stream. I caught a couple small dollies in the salt, but know there are bigger ones to be had.
Alaska is the biggest state in more ways than one.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

First fish is always one you'll remember

There are a lot of fish in the world, but whenever I catch the first one of a new species for me, it's an event I'll remember, until dementia sets in anyhow.
Northern pike are one of those species. I don't remember ever catching one as a kid (that dementia thing again), so as far as I'm concerned, I'd never caught one before. On a recent fishing trip to Montana, that changed.
Using a Pinnacle Accent CR spin rod with a Shakespeare reel and brand-new Trilene 8-pound test line, I was frustrated by two big northerns that snapped my line as I got them up to the net, taking my last two jointed Shad-Rap lures with them.
I switched to a big, fire-tiger Rapala, set my drag lighter, and the next time I hooked up, that pike was brought to net and boated. It wasn't a big pike by any standards,  but it wasn't exactly a hammer handle, either.
Pike are big, nasty fish that fight hard and taste great. I filleted a few of them after watching this YouTube video.
Now that I've landed my first pike, I'm ready to catch my biggest pike.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A drum that you can't beat

If you've followed the Fishin' Hullabaloo for any length of time, you know that E Dub likes to catch some strange now and then. And, in Wyoming, it doesn't get much stranger than the freshwater drum.
Found in only two lakes in the state, the drum is relatively rare in the Cowboy State. The freshwater drum is a stream-lined fish that looks like it should be in salt water. I've caught them weighing around 2-3 pounds, and the state record is 11 pounds, 14 ounces.
According to a federal fact sheet , drum were accidentally introduced to Wyoming.
I accidentally catch drum while fishing around rocky points and bars for smallmouth bass. I know of no one who actually targets drum, but there would be no shame in such a quest. The drum is a strong fighter that will test ultra-lite gear.
I haven't caught one on a flyrod yet, but that might become a goal in the future.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walleye makes a great meal

Living in trout country, I don't get to catch many walleye. But when I do, very few of them get released. That's because walleye is one of the best-tasting fish swimming. Last week, I landed three, including this 22-incher.
One of its fillets was enough for dinner for my wife and me. Usually, I fry walleye, but I tried a recipe off the internet for baked walleye. It was great, maybe even better than fried. Here it is:
Roll walleye fillets in a batter of equal parts bread crumbs, grated parmesan and potato buds. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Eat them.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mother's Day offers backcountry ski trip

We got permission from our wives to do a backcountry ski trip on Mother's Day, so we went. Debby had to work that day anyway, so it wasn't an issue. The night before I performed my husbandly duty by cooking Debby a special dinner of lobster and walleye.
This turned out to be the last ski of the season for me. Snow was in scarce supply this year, and spring ski conditions were sparse. But there was enough snow to get a few tele turns in, and the run back to the trailhead through the trees was challenging.
Let's hope the snow gods treat us better next season.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Last of the big ones?

In Wyoming and the rest of the Rocky Mountain area, a 20-inch trout caught on a fly is generally considered a trophy fish. Some years, I don't catch any that size. Other years, I lose count. Often, I land 1-3 over the course of a season. Last year, for instance, I landed three over 20 inches and was more than satisfied.
This spring has produced a surprising number of big fish for me and my friends. I have landed 11 trophy-quality rainbows so far over 20, with a 26 1/2 inch bow the standout of the group. On the day I landed the 22-incher in this photo, Sam caught the biggest trout of his life - a monster 28-inch rainbow that probably was pushing 10 pounds. Willi has landed more big trout than anybody I know this spring, including a few browns and cutthroat over 20 inches.
The spring rainbow trout spawn that produced many of these trophies is about over. There are still lots of big fish to be caught, but they won't be as easy until the fall, when the browns begin to spawn.
In the meantime, just the thought that the next fish could be a trophy will keep me going.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A sucker's born every minute

A face only a mother could love.

You never can be sure what you're going to catch when it comes to fishing. Today, I was expecting to get into some big rainbows, but instead was fooled by two white suckers that took my hothead leech. They fought like brown trout, slugging it out deep, yet I was somewhat disappointed when I finally got them to the surface and identified their species.
Suckers and I go way back. As a kid, I loved to catch them during their spring spawning run in a local creek. Many of them ended up on the bank, rather than released back into the stream. At the time, I thought suckers were trash fish and should be removed to protect the trout.
I once wrote a feature story for the Bozeman Chronicle detailing some of the atrocities I had committed upon suckers. My fans thought it was hilarious, and for years people would bring up the story. It became the most memorable piece I ever wrote. Other people were appalled by the article. One irate reader even wanted to fight me over it.
Now, I realize suckers are native fish and part of the ecosystem. In fact, in the West where brown, rainbow and brook trout are all introduced through stocking, the lowly sucker has more of a right to be here than the more "desirable" fish.

A Hoovermouth brought to net.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eggs-actly the right fly

Egg patterns keep producing on large rainbows this spring. Today I landed around 10 trout, half on eggs, half on buggers.
I wear a size 10 wading boot.

Over 20 inches and fat
A darker rainbow trout

Another fat 'bow

Friday, April 27, 2012

Egg patterns pay off big

Many times during the season, you can't beat an egg pattern for spawning trout in lakes. Rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout cannot successfully spawn in stillwater (they need flowing stream water with gravel streambeds), but that doesn't stop them from trying.
Last week after work, I spotted some big trout in their spawning ritual and tied on a couple of egg patterns. They produced this 26 1/2-inch hen rainbow that was stuffed with eggs. She probably weighed 7-8 pounds.
As efficient as egg patterns can be, I wonder if combining them with a bacon pattern might not be the ultimate fly combo.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A weekend of firsts

Thanks to record-breaking temperatures, March has produced open water on lakes and streams that usually would be frozen this time of year. I took advantage of the warmth to break out the fly rod and test some water last week.

My first two after-work outings were fruitless, and on the third trip to a local lake I had a fish on but lost it. The feel of a trout on the end of the line was nice, but still unsatisfying.

On Saturday, the tide turned, and I managed to land the first trout of the year (pictured), ending up with eight brown trout and one rainbow for the day. Sunday, I caught the first cutthroat of the year and also the first river fish, another brown.

The 2012 fishing season is off to a good start!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bidding adieu to 2011 with another hog

I ended another year of flyfishing Wyoming in the same way as I began 2011 - landing a big trout. In this case, it was a 23.5 inch brown trout on a wooly bugger. I'm looking forward to 2012!