Mar 08

Down Came The Rain And…

Fishing in the rainOver the past few weeks, Monte, the rural town where I am currently residing, has seen days of rainfalls, resulting in a drastic rise in the water level of the lagoon on which the small town lies.

As I have explained in past posts, there are a number of affects that rainfall has, especially in relation to the increase in available food.

In the US it is common for rain to flood many grubs and worms from their holes along the muddy banks of the water, making them an easy meal for hungry fish. Here in Argentine, I have learned that this principle is very applicable. Along the banks of the lagoon there is a type of large worm that burrows in the muddy banks close to the waters edge. This “worm” seems to be more of  an eel, yet scaled, with no eyes; just a large mouth. They range in length from very small to up to about 8 inches. The recent rain has brought the worms out of their holes, making the lagoon once again sustainable for fish.

I met one fisherman in town who was fishing with his son. The night before they had caught a number of these worms, and were now using them as bait, resulting in a beautiful catch of 17 impressive catfish. I have found that when fishing in such conditions, the best pattern to use is a velvet eel, or a large woolly bugger, both of which mimic a similar worm that is sure to bear results. When fishing in rivers in the northern US that are under the same conditions, it is best to stick with a woolly bugger, fishing it along the edge of the banks where tree-roots overhang the water. Along such areas trout will lay under the covering and feed of whatever finds its way into the water below.

Feb 25

Catch And Release

Trout

Trout

Whenever a fish is caught, there is the unavoidable predicament as to whether it is better to keep, or release the fish. Above and beyond personal convictions and state regulations, there are other factors that come into play when making this decision.

There are many fly-fishermen that live by the “Catch, Release, Conserve” code, by which they make the choice to release all their catch. Although this is a noble plight, there are faults when the idea meets reality and one finds them-self with a battle wounded fish that, in all honesty, has no fighting chance. It is at this time when one must understand that their desire to not personally kill any fish, may, in fact, result in the waste of a fish.
To give a fish its best chance in returning to the water, there are a number of things that can be done to aid it, starting before you ever enter the water.

For those fishermen who wish to release their fish, it is wise to start by removing the barbs from the hooks, although it makes it more difficult to set the hook, and keep the fish on the line, de-barbing the hook will result in less injury to the fish, and will make removal quicker and less painful, limiting the time that fish is out of the water.

The next important thing to remember, which I have mentioned in the past, is to wet your hands in the river right before touching the fish. Fish have a slimy membrane that encompasses  their entire body. This protective layer however, can be easily broken down from the oils on ones hands, thereby making the fish vulnerable to a number of bacteria and parasites.

Although all these factors are important leading up to the release of the fish, the release itself is very important. When releasing a fish, you must first determine it is releasable by visually inspecting to make sure it is not vitally bleeding out of its gill plates. Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure that all hooks are removed, especially those located in vital areas of the fish, primarily the gills or deep in the throat. The job is still not done.

When you have determined that the fish is healthy, and can be returned to the water, do not just throw it on in, like so many fishermen seem to do. Hold it, just before the tail, in the water, facing upstream, and allow a few moments for water to pass through its gills. This should be down in a place where, if the fish where to swim a small bit then die, it can easily be retrieved. Once the fish is revived and his regained its strength, it will free itself and return to the water. It is vital no to overlook this method, due to the importance of allowing the fish to regain the oxygen that it need to survive. Last and not least, never forget to remind it not to tell its friends!

Feb 24

Chicken Wing

Argentina

Argentina

I just returned from fishing in South Argentina, casting for stream trout in the Andes, an adventure that I will be sure to write more about in the future.

While there, I met up with a man by the name of Ricardo, the director of relations between the hotel and the National Park Guard. Ricardo is an avid fly fisherman who taught himself to cast using gear that was given to him by a visiting missionary.

I spent four days fishing with Ricardo, and we caught dozens of beautiful trout, but what I want to speak about today is something that his son was struggling with when trying to cast his fathers fly rod.

His son had been practicing for a while, but couldn’t seem to sustain a cast due to a technique problem called ‘the chicken wing.’

The chicken wing is a result of someone trying to cast more line than they are ready, thereby overpowering the rod by using their entire arm and shoulder to make the cast. Although this may seem to be useful when distance casting, it is unnecessary when making a normal cast. If one utilizes their forearm properly they will actually increase their cast. To readily correct this problem, take a pillow and hold it against the side of your body with your elbow and continue casting. If the pillow falls, than your ‘chicken winging.’ When you are able to keep the pillow in place, and are only using your forearm, you are doing it correct.

Good Luck, and watch for those wings.

Feb 13

Making Weight

Fishing on the Lake“Making Weight,” an expression that I heard constantly from my little brother during his high school wrestling career, has made its way into the fly fishing world.

For those fishermen that enjoy nymphing and ‘wet-fly’ fishing, many companies have developed a number of different sinking lines that allow wet flies to sink more rapidly, thereby assisting the fishing technique.

Despite the popularity of these lines, many fishermen prefer to take the inexpensive route, and simply use split-shots to weight their lines. Although this method is useful when fishing in turbulent waters, such as during steel head and salmon runs, split shots tent to be difficult to cast, and usually ruin eloquent presentation due to their entrance into the water.

The final method involves using needle-like, lead-substitute weights that are inserted into the hollow core of the floating line. Although there are a number of outfitters trying to develop this idea, it is currently not a plausible means due to a few major factors. Primarily, the insertion, and removal of these weights results in small holes in the line, that in turn, weaken the line, creates areas where the line will stretch, and eventually break under pressure.

Secondly, the use of these weights makes typical casting methods nearly impossible, as the weighted areas of the line will be carried farther than the rest of the line, resulting in horrific “birds-nests” and “wind-knots.”

IF the line is successfully cast, than the last problem with this method is quickly exposed. When the line hits the water, the weighted areas of the line will sink, while the unweighted areas will continue to try to float, causing the line to create a wave in the water, resembling a horizontal mend.

Although this method is not practical for general use, these is one style of fishing that it can prove useful for. Over the past few years, fishermen have developed a form of fly fishing call “float fishing.” Due to the large, loop casting, and the fact that the line is constantly taunt in the water, this method of line weighting, if developed properly, may prove very useful in the future.

All in all, the most practical, and effective methods are to simply use weighted flies, and a weighted line. Utilizing these methods, you will successfully drop your flies and be able to get the most out of your nymphing and wet fly fishing.

Feb 07

Oh The Dry Season

Catch of the dayThis past Saturday I finally made time to head to the local fishing lake to cast my new 6 piece, hoping to hook into a nice one as well. What I forgot to take into account was that we are currently in the dry season, and the once deep, tidal waters, have now diminished to a shallow puddle. Despite the circumstances, I rolled my jeans up and waded into the murky water and began fishing. Three hours, and a horrible sunburn later, I gave up in search of some aid from the locals who had gathered to watch this mysterious method of fishing. What I learned I wish I had known before I entered the mud. Apparently, as the lake begins to lose water, the majority of the fish move out, and swim into the outlet of the lake, where they remain in a deep hole that has formed over the years.

Excited about the possibility of heading there to try my luck, I learned also that it is only permitted for young children to fish that area, leaving me back where I started.

As I was about to pack up, I ran into an older man who was carrying three large bottom-feeders; I was Interested. sure they weren’t cut-throats or Rainbows, but they were fish. The man informed me that while the other fish find their way into deeper water, the bottom feeders flourish. At this I tied on a large, olive woolly-bugger, and headed back to the mud-hole. After about only a half hour, I found it was lunchtime and began to pack up.

Unfortunately, as I was retrieving my line, a large sucker took my line and snapped the bugger clean off at the tippet. Although he had the opportunity to live victorious for another week, I will be back out there tomorrow, armed with another bugger, and a bit stronger tippet.

Feb 06

Loopy Leaders

Fly Fisherman

Fly Fisherman

I was recently asked my opinion bout looped leader. As opposed to a regular leaders, that are attached to the float line directly, using a blood-knot, a small, looped tag line is fastened to the float that the leader, also having a looped end, is woven through.

There are a few advantages to a looped, such as the ease in which the leaders can be changed out. When changing out regular leaders, due to a hard knot or a high break, it is necessary to cut the old leader off, and retie a new one, thereby wasting a few inches of float line each time. With a looped leader, one can simply remove the old, and rethread the new.

While this is very handy, the visibility and drag of a loop is much higher than a small blood-knot. Due to those factors, I typically will only use a looped leader when fishing saltwater, or steel heads in rapid water, where visibility and drag are not so problematic, and for such situations, I find them very useful, however I would not recommend them for lighter trout fishing where it is preferable to to keep your line very streamline and clear. All that said, I highly recommend them for heavy fishing, but have yet to find a plus to using them for stream fishing.

Jan 08

Flying Fishermen

Fly fishermanHey Ya all! I’m back in the wonderful country of Argentina once again, and, once again my travels have revealed one more aspect of fly fishing that I cannot believe I have not yet mentioned : Flying Fishermen.

I recently received a March Brown travel rod from my father for Christmas, an investment that I highly recommend for any avid fisherman due to the endless opportunities that the world has to offer.

When buying a travel rod, the smallest is not always the best. My March Brown is a 5 piece, and I love the action it has to offer, but what you need to remember that at every point where the rod breaks, the rod is reinforced, and at those areas, you lose a small amount of power when casting. There many articles out there that can more easily explain what I am talking about, but it is important to take that into account when purchasing such a rod.

What can get interesting though, is that companies will sacrifice this reinforcement in order to offer better action. This fine line is left for the buying to decide based on the targeted fish. One piece of advise I can offer after talking to a number of other fishermen is this, try to buy a rod that is a weight heavier than you would desire. It will offer more security for those unexpected trophies, and you can always remove the butt and just cast the top if you so desire.

Furthermore, spend the extra money to buy nice case. Never go cheap when it comes to protecting your gear, especially when traveling. The extra couple dollars for a good hard case can save you hundreds in damages.

Dec 27

Where to begin?

Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing

Throughout the history of the website I have mentioned a number of wonderful patterns that have served countless fishermen well.

We all know the joy of catching a nice trout on a new patterned, but what is unfathomably more enjoyable is catching trout on a pattern that you tied personally; a desire that most fly fishermen have, but few end up ever pursuing the art, usually because they do not know where to begin, faced most commonly with the question, “Where do I get the material.”

Buying the tools to begin tying is as simply as a trip to your local sports outfitter, however, acquiring the actually materials can be quite a challenge if you do not know where to look.

This time of year, as well as during other hunting seasons, the availability of materials increases greatly. Around the country there are thousands of gaming clubs, at which, hunters gather to register their trophies. Furthermore, there are many times throughout the year that these clubs engage in large bird roasts, and other such activities, resulting in large amounts of unused feathers and furs, that can readily be obtained.

Furthermore, there is another resource that I have found to be very useful when I am in need of material: the DEP. Over the past few years I have made friends with a member of the Maine DEP. Thanks to this contact, I have had access to a number of materials not readily available to me here in Connecticut. Therefore I highly recommend that you make friends with your local game clubs and DEP.

More than just natural materials alone, there are many other materials that can be found in a number of other places, such as your local arts and crafts store, filled with different yarns and colored feathers. I have found that some of the most useful materials I have in my arsenal are not ordered from magazines, or found attached to an animal, but rather have been found strolling the aisles of ‘Crafts R Us.’

Dec 23

Tying the Knot

fly fishing anglerThis past week, a friend of the family bought a number of fly rods for their family members. As a result, I spent a couple hours assembling reels. While doing this, I remembered something important that I wanted to share with you all.

When attaching the floating line to the backing, it is important to use a nail knot. Although this knot is popularly assembled but use of, well yes, a nail, I have, over time found an easier way.

By using a small section of an inkwell of a standard office pen, the line, that is usually passed parallel to the nail, can be easily passed through the plastic tube, resulting in the same knot.

Furthermore, when this knot is completed, I like to secure it using a dot of nail polish, both securing and waterproof, it locks the knot from fraying, and thereby loosening.

Dec 17

Winter-Wear

Fly-Fishing in Winter

Fly-Fishing in Winter

Hey everyone! I have just recently entered back into the US after having spent a few weeks in El Salvador, and boy is it cold here, especially when out on the water. As I have discussed in the past, there are a number of dangers that fishermen face during the winter months of the season.

One major challenge that we all face is staying warm. There are people who have the idea that it is easier to get warm than cool off, due to the fact that you can always put more clothes on, but can only take so much off. Although this is partially true, there is one important factor to remember: sweat.

Many fisherman forget to factor in sweat when they prepare for the winter outdoors. Although layering clothes will result in immediate warmth, if you become so warm that you begin to sweat, than you run the risk of hypothermia in the same way as if your clothes are dampened by river water or rain.  hypothermia results when your body temperature drops rapidly, the problem results when outside air begins to cool the water against your skin, in this case, sweat. due to the fact that temperature can be transferred through water faster than air, the sweat causing a more rapid exchange of temperature, resulting in a faster drop in body temperature.

There are many clothing products that can cut down on this temperature transfer, that will absorb your sweat and allow your body to maintain proper temperature. all in all, it is important to remain warm, but be careful to not become so warm that in becomes a danger. furthermore, look around, and invest in sweat-absorbent undershirts.

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