Archive for the ‘trout’ Tag

Like the First Day of School…..   2 comments

“Alright, let’s get started”, someone with authority barks, but I’m already seated up toward the front.  “How did I get here?”, I muse as I realize I am front and center.  I quickly scoot myself back toward a wall during the confusion of folks jockeying for chairs and finding their comfy places.  Our manager welcomes everyone and decides we should do introductions as there’s new faces in the crowd.  There’s always new faces, where do these folks come from?

Oldest guy in the room.

The guy with a beard to my right starts, “I’m so and so and this is my second year”, then it’s the other guy with a beard, “I’m so and so, and this is my first year, then it’s the fresh faced young woman, “I’m so and so, this is my first year.  Uh-oh, my turn, “I’m Duane, ah this is my first year.”  That gets a laughing response from the masses, because they all know I’m the old guy.  The roll-call continues and the bearded guys keep rolling out low numbers of years with guiding experience.  I’m amazed.  Yea, there’s a few with eight or nine years in the room (one that says he shadowed me 8 or 9 years ago), but for the most part these folks are young enough to be my kids.  Hell, some of them might be.

It’s like going to a professional baseball game and realizing that the damn umpires are younger than you. I’m the oldest in the room again, and after some health issues last winter, I’m beginning to feel it.  Don’t get me wrong, I can hang with these kids all day everyday, it’s just that when I grow a beard, it’s gray.  That just doesn’t look cool in a fly shop or magazine cover anymore.  I’m a relic, and my fly choices and approach to the sport show it.  I still throw tons of soft-hackles and my idea of lunch is sandwiches on the way to the river so we have optimal time to fish.  Although I still throw softies, I have had to learn that guide trip lunch is something you do sitting down next to the river after you have thoroughly washed your hands with that new antibacterial liquid soap.  Isn’t all soap antibacterial?

I digress.  As the paper stack grows at my feet, I wonder how many old permits are in my pack.  Not too long ago, I was stopped by a game warden and checked for a license.  I found one in there from 2007, I really need to get in there and clean my pack out.  Might be a sandwich in there.  The manager explains how to carry these in a water-proof bag in your waist pack (no vest wearers in this room, not since I switched 5 years ago.), and I watch as some folks jot down this information, and the most of the rest are nodding their heads in agreement.  I think, “You gotta be told how to carry this stuff?”. Then, I kick myself for being “that old guy”, and find myself nodding with the rest.

I’m asked to get up and describe the areas we can legally guide on the South Platte River near Deckers.  I get up and in a nice way tell them it is their responsibility to learn where they can and can’t fish.  I go into how one winter, I walked the entire blue line from the confluence up to the fly shop, and drew a map showing every feature I thought important.  I realize at this time that I wasn’t asked to tell them to learn it themselves, so I explain that we can meet down there and do a drive-a-long.  Old guy relinquishes again, but it’s worth it.

I also throw in that there are a million first year guides out there, but not nearly as many second year guides.  In other words, don’t be a jerk, keep your head down, and bust your ass.  As the meeting comes to a close, I think about how these guide meetings are just like the first day of school.  A good chance to meet new people, rekindle old friendships, discern a pecking order, and fill out a pile of paperwork.  Just before the meeting was adjourned I got “it”.  I got that old feeling that I used to get before a guide trip, or when geese were set and coming in to my decoys. or before a big baseball game.  I got a butterfly.  Only one, but it was a good one.  I’m excited for another year on the river. I look for the challenges, and am stoked about working with all of the guides, management, and ownership.  Here we go.

Fear No Water

p.s. Buy a copy of The Fly Fishers Playbook for the old guy in your life for Father’s Day

Shelves and the Formula   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

Added a new video at: https://youtu.be/h_8BmcfsYnQ

Obligatory grip and grin...

Obligatory grip and grin…

This one deals with fishing those juicy shelves you find in every river.  Not all shelves look the same.  Most are very easy to locate at the lateral top of a run, some are hidden within the run and some run longitudinally with the run.  If you look closely at the video thru the link I provided, you will see a fast riffle dumping over the shelf.  Look closer and you will see “sleeper seams” within the run as it dumps over the shelf.  Sleeper seams show nearly imperceptible areas where obstructions gently slow the river flow. Almost a sure thing that you’ll find feeding fish holding in those sleepers, and the adjoining seams, but you’ve really got to stop and look closely.

The trick is to cast up onto the fast water to place your bugs above the shelf and put them in perfect position as the water slows and  drops onto the shelf.  If fish are up there, they are there to eat.  Make sure you’re mended up, anticipating the next mend, and primed to set quickly. Adjust your rig longer and heavier than you think you’ll need because you want your flies to follow the same path as the naturals. If you’re too light or too short, your flies will rarely drop into the proper column as the fish are below the fast water, because they are sitting in the slower flows down on the shelf.  Once you really concentrate on mastering a few shelves, the formula becomes easy to figure.

Sometimes you’ll see where a lateral, across the river shelf, and a longitudinal, with the river shelf connect.  That situation can be pure magic as it provides multiple areas where food and fish will collide.  That’s the crux of the Fly Fishing Formula.  You want the fish to either eat or get out of the way.  Opportunistic feeding fish will move distances to eat, selectively feeding fish will either eat or sway out of the way.  They are more prone to eat if your drift is perfect and your flies are close to the naturals in size and color. Make the fish decide.

Enjoy the video.  Go work a shelf as soon as possible and get back to me!

Fear No Water

Plea for questions….   3 comments

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

Well, the season is about to get cranking.  I’ve been guiding some, but most of my winter work has been in the form of traveling across the country presenting at shows, expos, and Trout Unlimited groups.  Been from Cleveland to Coeur d’alane, and a ton of points in between.

The real fun I find with  speaking are the myriad questions I receive before, during, and after the presentation.  I really learn from those questions. They make me think, and dig deeper into my knowledge and experience.  The level of the question doesn’t matter as all questions are viable and relevant.  The more I’m queried, the more I learn, and in turn, the more I eventually teach.  It’s a neat cycle.

I realize some questions are never asked in a public or private setting because it makes folks (me included) feel vulnerable.  I wish that wasn’t the case because I am confident someone along with the questioner would reap some sort of benefit.  So, I come to you folks that read my blog to selfishly ask for fly fishing questions.  I’m in the process of writing another book, and the more questions I have the better the book will be!

I really don’t care what you ask.   The level or depth of the question doesn’t matter, as each question will open dialogue into other areas.  So be specific or general, and remember there aren’t any stupid questions.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone that does.  Think of any discipline within fly fishing, except salt water (not for this book).  Casting, drift, bug choices, knots, fly lines, landing fish, reading the water, it’s all game.

If you don’t feel comfy asking on this forum, shoot me an email at: lonearcherguideservice@yahoo.com

I really appreciate everyone’s help!  Thanks, and Fear No Water!

Idaho beauty.

Idaho beauty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nom Nom

Head for the Hills!   2 comments

I feel sorry for them, I really do.  Just finished guiding the South Platte near Denver over the Memorial Day weekend.  It was cold and rainy, but that didn’t stop the multitudes of anglers and “recreationalists” from enjoying time on the water.  I don’t have any ill feelings to folks getting out and using Mama Nature, I just feel a bit sorry for the fish.

Right now, the South Platte near Deckers, Colorado is one of the few games in town.  Because of our epic snow pack, and a very wet spring on top of that, the rivers are pissed and dangerous.  More water than I’ve seen in a long time.  The South Platte is a tailwater tucked close to Denver.  Certainly, she is going to feel the brunt of traffic, because amazingly, she is still below normal flows.  Oh, the water will come, but for now, she’s “it”.

I watched the fishing success dwindle in the last 3 days leading up to Memorial Day.  Oh, we were still catching fish, but it became more and more technical.  Drifts had to be more precise, mends more complete, and sets were on anything that looked suspect.  You just had to work much harder than usual.  I got to thinking, “How many times has this fish been hooked this week?” “Today?”

Where the fish would usually hold in a particular seam in a particular run in days prior, they just weren’t there.  You may think, well they just went deeper in the column and you can’t see them.  Nope, not in this case.  The flow is only a little over 100cfs, meaning, you could see a quarter underwater in most of the runs we fished.

No, these fish headed for the hills.  By noon on Monday, we were catching fish on skinny rigs (check the archives for more info), along the edges.  One big brown comes to mind.  He ate my Brachy Pupa, on the far bank, in about a half foot of water, on the first drift.  We didn’t know he was there, but assumed the fish had moved because they weren’t in the usual haunts. I know this fish, where he usually holds, and how he likes to eat.  He broke the rules, and he lunged out of my net before photos.  Salty bastard.

Have a few other thoughts as well.  One thought  centered around how grateful I am that fly fishers are so diligent when it comes to releasing fish unharmed.  The fish in this area are for the most part, clean, fat, healthy, and pound for pound will fight with any in the state.  My other thought is how grateful I am to be able to work on a resource such as this so close to home.  Shouldn’t feel sorry for them I guess, they’re doing fine.  When the fishing gets technical, the technical go fishing………….

Fear No Water!

Duane

Don’t forget FATHERS DAY is coming up.  Pick up a copy of the Fly Fishers Playbook for your favorite father, or son, or brother, or son-in-law or…….!

???????????????????????????????

Skinny Rig   3 comments

Hidy Ho Neighbors!

I had an absolute blast at the Fly Fishing Show.  Presentations were packed, met a bunch of super people, and sold some books.  My presentation was centered around mastering technical water and one of the rigs I discussed is the “Skinny Rig”.  I refer to it as that because it has no weight, and is designed to be fished in skinny/shallow water, or at a skinny depth just below the surface.  It’s great for picking off fish in shallow holds or for catching fish feeding on emergers, duns, spents, or pupa just below the surface, in the film, or on top.  I mentioned at the show for folks to come to the blog and search thru the archives for the original skinny rig explanation.  That proved to be a pain, so I am going to re-post about it.

The skinny rig is nothing more than giving you the opportunity to put your flies exactly where the fish are feeding.  Once you determine what they are feeding on, and where in the column they are feeding, half the battle is won.  Let’s say that you see fish feeding slightly below the surface, with their backs breaking the water, but their heads are not.  Maybe there’s a Blue Wing hatch occurring simultaneously.  Bingo, they are probably eating the emergent phase of the BW.  This is where the skinny rigs shine, and can be used for any emerging or pupating insects.

Using my normal nymph rig (pictured), simply move the indicator up the leader so it’s about 5 feet from the first dropper.  Take off any and all split shot weight, apply floatant to the San Juan Worm (SJW), and you’re ready to go.  If you’re not using an SJW just make sure the fly you have in that position is NOT weighted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I use monofilament leader in all of my nymph rigs because mono floats better than flourocarbon, and I want something that helps buoyancy of the rig.  The tippets are flouro, but that doesn’t seem to hurt the drift because most drifts are only 5 or so feet and the mono is carrying the heavy load. Sliding the indicator away from the flies just helps to ensure you’re not spooking fish with indicator “slap”, and that the fish only see the presented flies.

Once you find feeding fish as I explained, the set-up is critical.  Most of the time, you’ll set up slightly downstream of the fish.  Occasionally you’ll set up above the fish, but that’s for special occasions when it’s the only way you can get to them.  Pick out one feeding fish when possible, and cast accordingly.  You’re probably screaming, “According to what!” According to the speed of the water and the depth of the fish.  It’s your job to try to place your offering at or above the fishes level.  You do that by practicing casting angles, reading water, and reading fish depths and feeding behavior.  It’s not as tough as it sounds, but does take practice.

Most drifts are much less that 5′, so once you learn the sink rate of your particular rig, you’re almost there.  I have beginners use this method a lot, so it can be perfected quickly,IF, you have a working idea as to how quickly your rig sinks.  Experiment.

The “set” on the skinny rig is more of a full “lift”  Too rigorous a set, and you’ll snap everything off, especially after nymphing with the same rig for a period of time.  I could carry a second rig set-up with a dry-drop rig to use for the same reason, but I’d rather capitalize on the versatility of the nymph rig.  Plus, it’s really fun to set on a “swirl” around your fly, or to watch the indicator scream across the river without warning.

Here’s a quick video showing casting angles.  Go to:  (click on)

http://youtu.be/GAIABbf7QIo

Hope this explains the rig.  The best way to learn it is to use it, so Fear No Water!

Duane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A picture says……   Leave a comment

Grip and grin, hero shot, whatever you call it, pictures preserve memories.  Maybe not so much of the fish you caught as much as the day itself.  I get a kick out of looking back through pictures remembering who I was with, where I was, and just the general tone of the day.  Like most of you, I’ve literally thousands of fly fishing pictures.  There’s only so much refrigerator space, so most of them end up in some box or on some thumbdrive, never to be seen again. For my latest book work, I have taken hundreds of pictures of which only a select few will make it into the next book.  I am no great shakes as a photographer, so I rely on those that are accomplished to lend a hand.  However, out on the water, I’m it.  Net-man, fly extractor and photographer.  Kind of a pressurized position if you ask me.  I am certainly not going to take you on a “how-to” in this post, this is more of a celebration of what I get to do with folks from all over the world, and pictures preserve it.  Pretty dang cool if you ask me.  Here are a few pictures from last year………

This is what I call the insurance shot.  Take a picture like this when folks land their first fish on a fly rod.  After this shot we attempt to have the client hold the fish if time and fish stress permit.  Nonetheless, picture preserved.     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s the old” guide in the shot to help hold big fish”  (also an insurance shot). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There are also “signature shots”.  This is one of my best clients and good friend John.  I have dozens of fish pics with him.  They all look like this.  Not sure I even know what he looks like….. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The next 2 shots are my favorite kind.  “Fish shots”.  Just taken to honor a beautiful fish.  Left to right, “the cradle” and “the spoon”. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All shots aren’t hero shots, some fall short.  Some are my fault, some the clients fault, most are just caused by the fish not following the script.

Here are a few….oops

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Like I said, i’m not the best photographer, but please remember to wet your hands before handling fish, pinch barbs, get them back to the water quickly, and keep em off rocks, grass, dirt, and snow.   Watch them swim away folks.

Thanks for following along.  Enjoyed it.

Fear No Water!

Duane

AAaaahctober…..   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

I’m lovin’ me some October.  Dawg days of guiding are over, leaves are changing, nip in the air, tricos and fall caddis are popping, and pheasant hunting starts for me and the pooches later this week.  Yessir, life is good.

I’m not going to spend much time in the pheasant fields til November, still plenty of fly fishing to do, but I am getting the dogs out for a tune-up soon.  Been six months since they cruised the bluffs.  In the meantime on the river, the fishing’s been good.  Although a large portion of our watershed suffered from the floods, we were basically spared from damage.  Being so close to the dam and the fact we didn’t get half of the rain others got, we made it out with some higher than normal flows and off-color water.

Of course, I guided through it, we all did.  Whenever I run into conditions such as these (high off color water), I employ a strategy that has worked for me over the years.  Quite simply, I will run bigger, darker bugs, and approach the river “blindly” with a grid approach.  I’ve talked about the grid before, but this time I posted a video at http://youtu.be/r1vLfha4vTM   , so you can get an idea of what I mean.

As for the bugs, I throw basically what the river offers, which in this case was bigger dislodged bugs like Stone Fly nymphs, worms,  Crane Fly nymphs and leeches.  All dead drifted under an indicator.  My theory is the darker the water, the darker and bigger the bugs.  I will also throw truly fluorescent colors, not just bright colors, but fluorescent. A size 16 black pheasant tail was the bug of choice during those conditions with the red San Juan Worm a close second.

Get the right speed and depth, run bigger darker bugs, and pick the runs apart systematically.  Makes for productive off color fishing. As a side note, be careful when wading in conditions such as these.  If you can’t see your feet, and aren’t familiar with the run, not a good idea to get too deep.

Thanks for tuning in, and Fear No Water!

Duane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My boy Johnny with a super fish!

6%

0%