Spring-Summer Newsletter

April 2013 - October 2013

03/21/2014

 
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Be sure to check the current fishing report for frequent updates on our conditions and latest fishing excursions.

 

August 21st and 22nd!

My good friend Matt Thompson brought his wife Jenn and his friend Kelly to fish for a couple days on the Lower Shoshone! This fishery is really looking good this year. The water quality is very good and the biomass is really the best I've seen in years. The fish are growing fast and very fat. The weather has been very hot and sunny and the fish had been hugging the bottom for a couple days. All these guys are patient and persistent fishermen so this was right up their alley.

Matt and Kelly fished on the 1st day. Kelly had just started fly fishing with us last year but he took to it better than anyone I've seen so far. This was only his second time to fly fish and he looked like he'd been doing it for quite a few years. The super hot temps and sun had moved the fish back into the deeper water so it took us a while to figure out exactly how to fish each spot. We'd get fish on dry droppers in certain holes. Other places a streamer with a sow bug trailer was working. The deepest holes required a nymph rig. We'd all like to avoid the nymph rigs if possible but sometimes you just have to get it down there to catch fish.

The highlight of the day was fishing Jenn's breast cancer awareness rod. We totally support this effort on the part of Ross reels and rods to raise money to cure this disease. This rod is bright fluorescent pink! I mean blinding pink with a matching reel! To see a couple on macho guys fishing this rod was just a lot of fun and honestly the rod cast quite well. I'll have to look for one on ebay!

We caught fish! Every hole produced at least a couple nice ones. Most were 16" to 17" with several bigger but all were fat and healthy. The water temps are the coolest around and the fish are fighters, especially in the current. Most were Cutts, rainbows and cuttbows. With the bright sun most of the browns were down and hiding. You really had to take your time. Sometimes it would take 10 or 15 casts over a spot to get the fishes attention. If you floated by with just one cast it can be a long day.

Both guys caught plenty of nice fish and they are both just a lot of fun to fish with. That's the nice thing about fishing with return clients every year. We all become friends and I really look forward to seeing them every time we fish. We can operate like a well oiled machine as we fish and good things just seem to happen.  A team effort!

Matt's wife Jenn fished with us on the second day. It had been a while since I fished with her. She has a very positive attitude, she pays attention and learns well, and she fishes hard and with passion. It had been a year since she fished but after the first hour or so of warm up she got it back and did great.

Interestingly, the fish were in different spots from the day before. We had to totally adjust where and how we fished for them. The retrieves on the streamers were different and unless you could adjust you didn't get bites. I like to blame it on the weather or a full moon but bottom line is you have to keep thinking and trying new stuff and see what happens.

Matt and Jenn caught some real nice ones. It was just a nice relaxing day fishing with friends. The weather and water cooperated and we had some fun. We are very lucky to have a river of this quality right down town. We saw almost no other fishermen all day and that makes it even better. Thanks to these guys for another great couple days and I look forward to our next adventure. Enjoy the picts!

August 18th

Blue line Fishing

With low water and summer temperatures making mid day fishing very slow and crowds of people hitting the more well know rivers Blue line fishing is a great alternative this time of year. If you get up high and are willing to walk a bit there are some very cool options that are still fishing quite well.

 

As a fishing guide I always assumed that people were after big fish but this year I've discovered that a good day on an smaller more intimate piece of water can be just as satisfying. One of my biggest goals has always been to try to not see other anglers when we fish. This has become almost impossible on the well known waters especially if they are easy access. Small streams offer solitude, beauty, exercise, and some very fun fishing for fish that rarely see a fly. It is also almost always dry fly action.

 

These fish can be naive but when the water comes way down and is super clear you really have to stay back and use stealth. They aren't always push overs. Especially the bigger fish! Most fish are between 6" and 10" but we seem to always get some 14" to 15" and a few up to 17". A 17" fish in a creek that is 4 feet wide is a true trophy! The fish in the faster water will usually come up and smack a big dry but we have to fish stuff like little midges and ants for the bigger fish in the deeper slower pools. It can be quite challenging.

 

I've heard more laughter the last couple weeks when the dry fly action turns on than any other time so far this year. These fish commit! I mean hit your fly with careless abandon! It is a lot of fun. I see people stopping to look around and just admire their surroundings. We see interesting wildlife. It really is a great way to spend the day instead of beating a dead horse mid day on a hot low stream with a big name.

 

The people that are willing to go to these places are special. They don't shun a challenging hike, a few bugs, or maybe even a bear or two. At the end of the day they are fulfilled! They get some exercise see amazing country, and had a great time catching a bunch of truly wild fish. Yesterday, Becka Strong hiked one of the steepest trails anywhere. She fished all day in a pair of flip flops. She never complained once or even broke a nail and every time I looked up she was fishing with focus and passion. The fishing wasn't even close to what it can be that day but she caught the biggest fish of her life and the trip on a little ant with a perfect cast.  She was truly living in the moment. It doesn't get any better than that and I salute her and her husband Greg for being the kind of people that have an appreciation for what Wyoming is really about.

 

If your tired of crowds, the 5 hour lull of mid day heat and have some get up and go, give some small streams a try. Some of the most enjoyable days this year have been about smaller fish in wild places. It has been a very cool way to spend the day and make for some memories that will last a lifetime! Enjoy the pictures!

July 15th

Big Snake Creek

Kirk, John, and I hit Big Snake Creek on the 15th. The water was showing lower than usual so we really didn't know how it would be fishing. When we arrived there were more people than we'd seen in the last 5 years. No problem, a little power wading and we didn't come into contact with any other anglers all day.

 

This is my favorite stream in the world. There is no place more beautiful as far as I'm concerned. It is basically a giant spring creek. The hatches are more diverse than any other stream I've fished. The fish are big, few and far between, and for that reason can be very challenging. Seems like every fish was keyed on a different bug today. We saw evidence of a massive stone fly hatch but just a few stones flying around. Midges came off twice in the middle of the day and had big fish up on them when they had plenty of larger flies to eat. Green and grey drake spinners were in just about every eddy. There were at least 7 different types of caddis I spotted. Beetles, ants, hoppers, dragon flies, and the list could continue. Needless to say the fish are feeding like crazy after the spawn and are fat!

 

This is a stream that has gone through and is still going through some serious times. The majority of the fish disappeared about 6 or 7 years ago now and have been fighting hard to make a come back. The last couple years we have been seeing a fair increase in general population. Most of the fish in the past were all big. The last couple years we have been seeing growing numbers of one, two and three year fish. This year it is even a little better still. Very nice to see that trend climbing but is still only 10% of what it was 15 years ago.

 

This is big water. Your skills have to be good in order to be successful here. Heavy wading, long casts, and good drifts are essential. Fly selection can be ridiculously easy or infuriatingly difficult. You have to stay focused, observant, and be patient and persistent to have success. The real key to this river is knowing where the fish are going to be. Some places are obvious and some are not. There is a ton of non productive water. Many of the traditional haunts are now void of fish. It is far from a numbers game. What it is is a true high quality fishing experience. Some of my best fishing memories have been made here.

 

There weren't any real prolific hatches but just a smattering of bugs of all kinds. We changed flies all day on every hole and almost every fish. The fish would bite for a while and then slow but if one showed himself you could usually figure it out. The fish weren't spooky, just selective. Most of the fish were fat. You could tell that they had been munching on the big bugs for a couple of week by the numbers of stone fly shucks on every rock. Good to see them in good health.

 

I've said it several times this year already but this was the best day of fishing so far this year. Good friends, very nice fish, and one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Enjoy the pictures!

 

 

July 13th

The Russian Olive Holocaust!

Last year a war against the Russian olive was started and to this day I see absolutely no benefit at all to chopping down these trees, some of which are up to 60 to 80 years old. Granted, they are not native to this area but the pros of having them around so out weigh any cons that it is unconscionable to continue with this thoughtless slaughter of habitat.

Russian olives are not native to this area. Some say they will push out native species. The fact is that they grow in harmony with many of our native species. I have yet to see them push out any native trees or grasses. In many cases the grasses do much better in the shade these trees provide than to burn up in the hot sun like they do after the trees have been cut. Cottonwoods survive quite well above the olives. Willows also seem to grow in harmony with them. All these plants have slightly different requirements and grow in slightly different places. Anyone who has studied areas where the olives are left to mature knows that eventually things thin out underneath them. They do not just get thicker and thicker and choke out other species. Not one of the places that the olives have been cut are doing better than they were with the olives in place. Most areas are simply burned up and appear a barren wasteland of dead brush piles to remind us of this folly for the next 100 years. The least that should have been done would be to clean up these areas to a respectable level and replant with some native plants. Even if they ever did it will take another 100 years to put things right. The monies allocated to do this are taken directly from the wildlife fund. With much of our wildlife hanging on the edge as it is these funds could be used for a much better purpose than to make it more difficult for our wildlife to survive. These funds do provide jobs and sell chemicals but at what cost to the animals and planet.

The native wildlife has embraced the Russian olive for almost 100 years now. The trees provide food, cover, and shelter to many birds, mammals, insects, fish, and even plants. Now, without the habitat that they have become accustomed to the animals are gone. Deer, raccoons, porcupines, skunks, all forms of birds, and insects are left homeless. The predators that preyed upon these animals are gone. There is no longer any shade for the animals to rest in during the heat of the day. Even the fish suffer from not having shade where the trees hung over the rivers. These trees provided a great buffer zone so livestock would not trample the river banks. In places with livestock the grass is eaten to the dirt and stream banks are compromised by to much livestock traffic. In Cody the deer have simply moved into town and are eating everyone's landscaping. It was an issue before and now an even bigger issue in which everything involved will be a looser. Hunters are finding that areas that once abounded with game are now devoid. This is going to only get worse if this strategy is allowed to continue.

The list of reasons not to cut down 80 year old trees in a high plains can go on forever. Any tree is a good tree in the desert. We cannot go on trying to change the course of nature by killing off species that we do not like or except.  It has never worked in the past and it never will. Evolution is inevitable no matter how it comes about. Chances are we will kill off many of the things we love by tampering with nature. This has been proven over and over again through out history. This exploit has been a raging failure in every way and should be stopped immediately before more damage is done. The bottom line is that we are the most invasive species on this planet. To bad nothing can be done about that.

 

Slough Creek on the 3rd

July 3

My good friend Jeremiah Macmiller and I took a walk into the 2nd meadow on the 3rd of July. We used to fish like this a bunch when he was in college, but now that he has a real job and a wonderful family we don't get these opportunities very often. We jumped on it! Here's the thing. Jeremiah is a bear magnet. If he took people into the woods to look for bears and charged $10 a bear he would make a killing. Less than 30 minutes into the hike we ran into a little cinnamon black bear.

 

This was my first fishing trip into Slough creek this year and it's still a bit early, but when we saw the first meadow we knew it was going to be good. We got to the river at the second meadow and the first cast got a take, which came unbuttoned; the second cast resulted in a nice fat 16" cutt. The fish are in very good shape this year. Plenty of weight early in the year is a great thing to see.

 

The PMD's were the first bugs to show themselves. The fish weren't picky but since the water is a little high yet they were spread out a bit. They looked to be taking emergers but would readily take a dry if presented well. Next I saw some green drakes. I heard a couple big splashes and saw some monstrous mayflies floating by. I put on a bigger fly and fish on. In the next run it was grey drakes. They weren't as big but there were a lot more of them hatching and we played with them for about an hour.

 

The water is already fairly warm and when you look closely you can see all kinds of nymphs floating by. Really very interesting to check them out for a while. The hatches are going to really break loose any day now. The wind came up a bit which was nice to help with the biting bugs. Plenty of black flies in the meadows and mosquitoes in the timber but with the fishing being so good and surrounded by such beauty,  I didn't even notice them. A splash of deet and everything is ok.

 

I stuck with a #8 Bah Behr most day and caught plenty of fish. Almost all the feeding fish are on the edges. I fished down and across working every inch of the deeper banks and it was a blast. The slow deliberate takes made us laugh out loud. We took it slow and easy taking in the scenery and thoroughly enjoying the day. Even though we drove for 5 hours and hiked about 15 miles I woke up feeling refreshed this morning. It was the best day of the year so far.

 

About the bears. We saw 2 brown bears up by the Soda Butte on the way in. At the bottom of the first hill we ran into a black bear just inside the timber. On the way out we saw a black bear in the timber between the meadows and 100yds later we saw a grizz cub and got out of there before we saw the mom. At the bottom of the hill in the 1st meadow we ran into a black bear in the trail eating grass that wouldn't get out of the way so we went around up in the timber. About half way up the hill walking into the sun we came within about 5 feet of a good sized black bear that was on the other side of a tree. The only reason we saw it was it spooked and climbed up the tree 10' over our head and it's shadow and the sound of it's claws on the bark alerted us. We saw the rest of the grizzlies in Lamar valley on the way out. That is the most bears either of us have ever seen in a day. They were very forgiving and never presented any sign of a problem but if you go bring bear spray and really keep your eyes open. We were caught by surprise twice and if things would have been different we could have had a problem. It's just part of the game out here.

 

It was an awesome day to say the least! The best day I've had fishing with my friend in a very long time. One that will go down in infamy. Yellowstone Park is beyond a treasure and we are so lucky to have it right in our back yard. Check it out if you get a chance. Enjoy the pictures!

Making your trip out West the best it can be!

Taking a trip to fish for trout in the west is what I used to live for all year when I lived in Georgia. I'd spend months looking at pictures and gathering information. I got all the newest coolest rods and reels, I bought the newest slickest fly lines and tied my own special leaders, tied all the new killer fly patterns and made sure my waders boots and rain gear were all in order. Not one of these things was what I needed the most.

 

If you want to guarantee that your trip is going to be a success the one thing that you have to have is accurate casting between 15 and 30 feet. There is nothing that will catch you more fish than this one simple skill. Fly rods are sold by guys that will take you out back and proceed to unload the whole reel with the newest coolest rod and fly line. Granted, distance  casting is fun but has nothing to do with catching trout. Test that new rod by hitting short distance targets. The trailer hitch on that car, the corner of a dumpster, the edge of the grass. Some rods are far more accurate at short range than others. A rod needs to be able to load with minimal line to be accurate at shorter distances. Fast action rods have a hard time loading with a short line. Here's a couple tips that will help you catch a lot more fish and perhaps a fish of a lifetime.

 

Make sure you can get your leader to straighten out perfectly in line with your fly line.  I have seen many instances where the line is cast at the fish but the leader is 5' to the left or right. Getting your leader to turn over in a straight line is critical to achieving accuracy. Put a small piece of yarn on the end of you leader. Place hats, coffee cups, or Frisbees out in your back yard and practice putting the fly in them at various distances between 15 and 35 feet until you can at least get within inches of your targets. This is the single most important thing you can do to make sure you will have success. Accuracy at short range!

 

Learn to get control of your line quickly when it hits the water. When fishing moving water your fly is coming at you very quickly. As your line is about to hit the water place the line under your index finger on your casting hand with  your stripping hand. Don't let go and then try to get it and put it back. You will create a ton of unnecessary slack and not be able to set the hook in time. Also don't strip out more line than you need to make the cast. This will only cause you grief. You must not have a lazy left hand (or right for left handed casters)! Your casting hand only goes back and forth. The other hand does everything else! If your non casting hand is not doing something all the time while your fishing it is lazy.

 

Practice a high straight back cast! One reason to have a high straight back cast is to keep you out of the bushes behind you. That is at the bottom of the list as far as benefits of a high straight back cast but it is a good one. A forward cast is a chain reaction of events. If it starts out poorly it will get worse in the back and even worse as you come forward. If it starts out good it will get better on the back cast and better still on the forward cast. It is impossible to have an accurate and efficient forward cast without a good high straight back cast. Work the back cast until it becomes ingrained in your muscle memory. You don't even have to watch your forward cast at all. It will go where you want it to if you have a high straight back cast.

 

These tips are the best advice I can give to help you catch more fish on your trip out west. New gear is nice but there is only one thing that will catch you more fish and that is you. Practice, practice, practice, and you will have great success! The fish are right there and willing. All you have to do is show them your fly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trico Fishing June 13th!

Run off is here and some people are having a hard time finding quality dry fly fishing with all the dirty high water. The best dry fly fishing of the year so far may be going on right under your nose. Trico Spinner falls are getting going from 5:30 a.m. till about 10:30 a.m. every morning now. Most of the guys I know are just getting started by around 9:30 to 10 a.m. and missing 4 hours of the best dry fly fishing. If you are willing to hit the road early you can get 4 or 5 hours of killer dry fly almost every morning for the next month or so. With temperatures rising and salad fast becoming a real issue there is no better place to be than tossing dry flies at sun up when it's cool and the sun is low to big browns and rainbows sipping the dying may flies.

Trico fishing is called the white curse by some but to me it is my favorite time of the year to catch large trout on tiny dry flies. Every trout in the river will be lazily sipping the mats of dying bugs almost every morning. The sun is low so the fish can be approached from behind or across current if you are stealthy and since you are on top or just under the surface floating vegetation is not fouling your fly constantly. I like to use fluro carbon tippet as it is invisible to the fish and a little stronger and more abrasion resistant to help you hold on to these big fish.  A rod with a soft tip to protect your small hook and tippet will increase the number of fish you can land. Some of the bigger fish will just clean your clock and there's nothing to do but laugh and put on another fly.

My preference is to fish to these fish on foot. In a boat you have a much higher profile so you will have to stay much farther away from the fish in order not to spook them. Your casts will be longer and this can cause your fly to drag much sooner. Using a stealthy approach on foot will enable you to get within easy casting distance of the fish in most circumstances.

Most of the fish you find feeding on tricos will be on the inside of seams, in eddies, or at tail outs where the water is slow and the bugs can accumulate. Fish these areas early. If you choose to fish past the spinner fall you can find feeding fish under the faster deeper currents taking cover from the sun later in the day. Chances are that in the faster water they didn't get to eat that many tricos and they will still be readily feeding. Several of these slower areas had funny little currents that made it difficult to get a nice drift. I lengthened my leader and threw some s curves at the end of the cast to help the fly drift naturally for a bit longer. Presentation is critical in this type of fishing.

When fish are taking tricos they have a very narrow feeding window. They won't move side to side to take your fly. Casts have to be on the mark which is one of the things that makes this fishing so challenging and fun. Place the fly no more than 2 feet up stream of the fish to minimize chances of your fly dragging. Try not to line the fish with your fly line. It can be very difficult to see the fish take your fly so raise your rod if you see movement where you think your fly could be. Don't rip your line off the water if you miss the fish as this will probably put the fish down.

I usually find fish feeding in pods of up to 10 or more during the spinner fall. Try to work from the back of the pack and you can catch quite a few unless a fish comes unglued right in the middle of the pod. I managed to work 9 fish out of a pod this morning before they had  had enough of me.

Most people seem to think you need very small flies during this spinner fall but I have found the a nicely tied #16 or #18 is plenty small enough and gives you a little bigger hook to try and hold these fish. Try putting a #22 behind a #16 dry and see which one the fish takes. A bigger meal is a better opportunity for the fish and a bigger fly sometime gets their attention a little better than one that blends in with the hundreds of naturals. I cast to them as long as they continue to rise. There are hundreds of flies on the water and it can take a while for them to pick yours out of the mat of floating bugs.

I think my average fish today was 18" and some where as big as 22". You will loose your share of these fish but the game is simply to fool them. The surprised look on their face as they leave the area at high speed is enough to put a smile on my face! Getting up early and give this fishing a try. It is a lot of fun. I left the house at 4:30 this morning and was done fishing by about 11:30. It was an incredible morning. I saw fish up in places that I have never seen them before. It was amazing! Just watching and listening to all that slurping and splashing was pretty exciting! Enjoy the pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29th

Run Off Fishing

The fishing during run off can be tough but if you are willing and have some get up and go sometimes good things can happen. On top of snow melt and dirty irrigation water we have also had to contend with a good amount of rain lately. We are always appreciative of any moisture we get out here in the desert but you may have to bob and weave to find some good water on any given day. Also, fronts can have a big impact on the fishing from day to day. Conditions change on a daily basis so you have to be flexible with where you fish.

 

The Thermopolis fishery can usually be counted on for some clear moving water. The fish are generally large and wary so calm bright days without a hatch can be tough. We have also had some unseasonably warm temps which can slow things down. The hatches have been sparse lately. You have to find the fastest most oxygenated water. The fish are more comfortable here and use the fast current for cover on the bright days. Later in the evening you can find some risers in some pretty obscure places if you take the time to hunt them. They aren't going to give it up easy over here but if you take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you over the course of the day it can add up to a very rewarding experience.

 

The lakes are another fairly consistent fishery this time of year. The midges and mayflies come off regularly and the damsel nymphs are on the move. Sight fishing with scuds and damsels can be very productive right now. In the lakes stocked with cutthroat you will find schools of fish circling the banks looking for inlets and outlets to spawn in. This can provide some real good sight fishing and catching fish in these lakes this time of year is very consistent. Be prepared to see other anglers on the lakes right now but honestly there is plenty of room for everyone.

 

The Shoshone has been fishing great but you have had to dodge the off color water produced by the rains. There are always stretches that you can get above the muddy stuff. The canyon has been fishing very well on most days. You can almost always catch fish in there. Fronts are about the only thing that can slow thing down. Dry fly fishing happens every day it seems. Through town it is just a matter of finding the clearest water. The fish are feeding and there are plenty of bugs hatching. This fishery is back from the devastating flood conditions from 2011. There are over 2500 fish per mile and the average size is back up to 14" to 16". Many people that fished it last year that had recently fished the Bighorn in Montana commented on how much more they enjoyed fishing the Shoshone. Good quality fish, diverse fishing situations, and very few other anglers. Hard to beat that and it is right down town.

 

Some of the high mountain streams have water that is already at fishable levels. Yellowstone park is one of these places. There isn't much snow in places this year and cooler temps have kept the flow at very reasonable levels. The fish will be very hungry once the water temps come up a bit and the hatches really get going. The higher you go the less run off you will have to deal with. The willows are budding out and wildflowers are starting to pop up. A very beautiful place to spend the day.

 

This year we are expecting run off to end around the middle of July. You can probably find clear high water to toss a line before then but for the hatches to really get going and for the fishing to really turn on that will most likely be the time frame. In the mean time give some of these areas a try. There is plenty of good fishing out there during run off if you look.

 

May 11th

Lower Shoshone

The Lower Shoshone has been fishing great for me with the higher flows from irrigation water. The fish are adjusted and the bugs are coming off every day. Most of the time it's midges right now but I have seen some good caddis hatches and still a few blue wings in the afternoon.

 

I fished on the 9th and it was caddis. We got a good hatch up high and the fish were really feeding well sub surface all afternoon. Occasionally you can find some risers but there weren't many even with the bugs flying everywhere. On the 11th it was a solid midge hatch. A thunderstorm came in and the fish really turned on until a gully washer coming down Sulpher creek turned the river to mud about 2 p.m. It was phenomenal right up till it went off color.

 

A dry dropper set up has been the best rig. The fish are pushed to the edges so you can cover 90% of the water they are feeding in with this set up The fish will take anything as long as it is a red #12 copper john with a black zebra with a red rib below that. Total depth about 3'. I have been picking up some of the bigger fish on the big dry fly. You would never suspect that they would take hopper this time of year but they sure do. Also, they are stacked at the tops of the runs and in the side channels. Where you find one fish you will often find 6 or 8 more.

 

I have come across almost no other anglers fishing since the water has come up. It seems everyone is fishing the lakes right now so you can find solitude and some great fishing right down town. Cody truly is a river runs through it! Enjoy the picts!

 

April 18th thru 28th

Glovers Atoll Belize

Glovers Atoll is usually reported to be more of a diving and snorkeling destination than a fishing destination. Four small islands 35 miles of the southern coast of Belize. We made arrangements to stay with Off the Wall Dive Shop and Resort with Jim and Kendra for the week and couldn't have been happier with the quality of service and the surrounding eco system. If your looking for a nice quiet vacation with plenty to do for fishermen and non fisherman alike this is the place! Beautiful reefs and islands and not many people. For me, it couldn't be any better after a cold Wyoming winter.

We arrived in Belize city and had a day to kill before we caught the boat out to the island. Kendra had suggested we check out the Black Orchid resort for a day. We walked out of the terminal and Ryan was waiting with a sign and air conditioned van to pick us up. The resort was about 15 minutes from the airport. I was a bit skeptical about the place as it was almost right in town and Belize city is not exactly a prime vacation spot. Upon arrival I was immediately impressed with the place. The service was excellent and it was right on the Belize river. We had about 6 hours until sundown so we grabbed a two man kayak and hit the river in the heat of the day. I had a fly rod and Dawn was paddling. We saw all kinds of birds, howler monkeys, crocodiles, green and spiny iguanas, and a couple basilisks in just a couple hours. A flock of green parrots followed us up the river. I fished the edges with a clouser and a popper for snook and jacks. I didn't catch a bunch but they were there and bit even in the middle of the day. Food and accommodations were very good.  Great place for a lay over in Belize city.

The next day we took a puddle jumper down to Dangriga. Very fun flying in Belize. If you weigh the same as the pilot you get to fly in the co pilot seat. That alone made it worth the money to me. Roland picked us up at the airport and we went to meet Jim and the rest of the guests at the dock. Jim and his guys were right on the ball loading supplies and luggage and we were off for the hour and a half boat ride in no time. Once out of the harbor the water starts looking good fast and when you finally hit the atoll it is exactly what you were expecting. Beautiful! As I exited the boat Junior pointed out a school of about 600 (that's right!) bones in a school 40 feet out from the dock. In Belize you usually can expect tons of 1 lb bones but there were plenty that appeared to be up to 3 to 5lbs! While the guys unloaded, Kendra took us on a short tour of the island. Accommodations are simple and eco friendly but very nice. Our cabin was right on the water with a nice breeze. Solar showers and composting toilets. Nice firm beds and pillows. Spiny iguanas were on almost every rock. I grabbed my rod and was into a fish on the first cast. I can handle this for a week! After a couple fish and lunch we went on an afternoon snorkel and  man was it beautiful. Tons of fish and very healthy coral! On many Caribbean islands you get used to not seeing jacks, grouper, snapper and cudas due to subsistence fisherman but here they fished for food off shore in the deeper water to keep the fish around the reef in good numbers. Great!

For the next couple days I alternated  fishing the incoming tides and snorkeling. There were no other serious fly fisherman on the island. I couldn't have been happier. I saw fish right away but it took me a day or two to get with the program. The bigger bones ran in pairs and singles on the incoming tides. Like any larger bones they wouldn't put up with nonsense but if you slowed down and paid attention you could get 2 to 4 nice ones stalking the edges on a tide on the home island. The school of bones floated up and down the bank every day and sometimes even came in and tailed right by the dock. It was a perfect place to get someone started bone fishing and you could catch practically as many of those guys as you wanted to. I did see two 15 to 20lb permit tailing. I put the first cast about 4 feet in front of them. Nothing. Second cast 2 feet. Nothing. 3rd cast right on the leaders nose. They blew out. This happened to me twice but at least I did have the opportunity!

The second day I kayaked down to the Middle island where the marine fisheries research station was located. It was about a 45 minute kayak paddle from our island. There was a nice one or two person flat and upon further examination I spotted 4 or 5 nice pods of 15 to 20 bigger bones tailing in about 6 inches of water. This is the type of fishing I love. Tying on a fly of the proper weight and color turned out to be critical. The fish are very spooky in that little water. You have to stay back, stay low, and make a nice cast. The first day I didn't do so well. I ended up spooking all the fish off the flat. I came back with a plan and the next day got it figured out. The key turned out to be that I had to remove the eyes from the Crazy Charlies so they didn't splash when they hit and didn't sink as fast. Man it was a blast! The fish took you into your backing every time and wrapped around every little mangrove root on the flat. If you played your cards right you could get 2 or 3 fish every time before they would spook the rest of the fish off the flat with their screaming runs. On the other side of the island I found some more fish in waist deep water in a shallow cove. It wasn't site fishing in the traditional sense. You walked the cove until you saw silver flashes on the bottom and that was a school of feeding bones. Dawn and I caught lots of bones in there after we worked over the flat. Between the two islands that was a full day of fishing for anyone! In many instances destination fishing requires you to have access to a guide and boat to get to the best fishing. The northern islands in Belize are like that. This is one place that you can do very well on your own. There are guides available if you want one and I'm sure they would have put me on some better spots but I was absolutely satisfied with figuring it out on my own. I caught 10 to 20 fish a day and that was plenty for me.

This area is not conducive to a bunch of fisherman. There's just not enough good bone fish water for more than one or two guys to fish in a day on foot in my opinion but If you are on your own or maybe with just one other angler it is perfect. You have to have some get up and go and keep your fly in the water but if you get the tides and haunts figured out you can have a great time. There are some really big cudas in certain places but getting them to hit your fly will be tough. I had some thick 4 1/2' to 5' fish follow but  they wouldn't take. If you are not opposed to tossing some big plugs or live bait I'll bet they could be a lot of fun.

I caught lots of other reef type fish as well. Groupers, jacks, cudas, grunts, snapper, flounder, a trunk fish, hound fish, a queen trigger fish, and more. The snorkeling was excellent. There were probably 6 or 7 different types of reefs within swimming distance of our cabin and you could kayak to many more. All types of reef fish, lots of various rays, turtles, sharks, eels, octopus, tons of conch, ect. The coral was in very good shape. Some of the healthiest I've seen in the Caribbean. You won't be disappointed with the reef.

Jim and Kendra and their staff are all top notch. Excellent at all aspects of your stay. They make you feel like your one of the family. The thing I really appreciated was that they are very flexible with letting you do your own thing. Jim seemed to size everyone up the first day as to our ability to stay safe and then pointed us in the direction of what we wanted to try. We saw other groups that seemed very regimented and everyone in our group kind of wanted to do our own thing. If you needed anything they did their best to make it happen. That's exactly what we were looking for! Eileen the cook was great! Meals are served family style and were always very good! Fresh squeezed juice all day every day. Mathew the dive master was very good. He was very informative about anything we saw in the water. Junior and his partner took care of the grounds and the boat details and there was a security guard at night keeping an eye on everything. It's rare that you take a vacation where everything is better than you thought it would be but this was one of those. If you are after double digit bones head to Andros or the Florida Keys and hire a boat and guide but if you like doing things on your own you will be hard pressed to find a better place to kick back, fish, and keep your wife happy with the whole place to yourself. Enjoy the pictures.

Jim and Kendra

Off the Wall Dive Shop and Resort

Glovers Atoll Belize

 

 

 

 

April 15th

Outlook for the 2013 fishing season!

The outlook for the 2013 fishing season is very positive. As of the middle of April the snow pack is just about right on schedule for being a normal good water year. Barring any unforeseen and yet to come catastrophic events this means the post run off season should start in the middle of July and fish well into September and even October when the browns start thinking about spawning. All the rivers in the area have benefited from the massive flows we had in 2011 and are in as good a shape as I've seen in quite a while. Fish are many and healthy and the insects are plentiful. If the summer is anything like what we've seen so far this spring we will be seeing some very nice hatches during prime time this year. Hopefully the Lower Shoshone will remain fishable this summer as it is in fantastic shape with more fish than ever and better hatches than we have seen in years. The North Fork hasn't really showed us what it will do yet but the fish that have been caught are very healthy and of a real nice size. Keep your fingers crossed for another unbelievable hopper year. The Greybull was in fine shape last year even with a huge increase in fishing pressure and should be at least as good if not better this year. A new fish ladder has been installed so we might see more and larger fish up stream this summer. Both Sunshine reservoirs were extremely low last year but I don't think the fish were harmed. Reports have been good all winter from the ice fisherman. The Bighorn in Thermopolis is better than ever. The huge flush in 2011 removed a bunch of sediment and natural reproduction combined with a good stocking effort has the river full of fish and some real monsters. If the flows remain at 1200cfs this summer like last year look out! Aside from the warm water in late July and August the river should be phenomenal. Even the Clarks Fork seems to be making a decent comeback. We have been getting more and more hold over fish of one or two pounds. That's a very good sign. I hope to see the salmon flies this year on the 1st of July. They haven't really hatched for two years now. Both Luce and Hogan along with the two Newton lakes are in fine shape. This year the fish should be back in the 17" to 19" range with a few larger and with two age classes below that. The quality of some of the fish I've seen this spring is very promising. Yellowstone park should be very good this summer as well. Good snow pack and very positive reports from the lake and by some of the guys over in West. The Madison is in nice shape as far as size and numbers of fish. All in all everything points to a very fun and productive season. Make sure to book early if you can as slots are already filling very quickly!

 

April 1st and 2nd

The Gregory's

Scott, Elizabeth, and Patrick Gregory came out to fish for a couple days on the 1st and 2nd of April. This was to be their first attempt at fly fishing. I especially love taking people on their first day! They are excited, enthusiastic, and have a great appreciation of of the things that we sometimes take for granted in wonderful Wyoming.

 

On the first day I like to start people out with fly fishing 101 on a still water at least to get started. We went over tackle, knots, outer wear, and safety but the main focus is always casting. Fly fishing sucks until you learn to cast. Charles Ritz, the heir to the hotel chain, a great fly fisherman, said that a person should take a couple hours of instruction with an experienced instructor and then practice casting for 15 to 30 minutes a day for 30 days before he or she ever tries to catch a fish. That way a lot of the initial frustrations of learning to cast will be out of the way. In our society people usually don't have the luxury of that much time so we just have to go for it and see what happens. Amazingly, it usually works out just fine.

 

We hit East Newton lake first and everyone was able to get their lines out to about 20' without to much of a problem. We rigged up and within just a couple minutes had some bites, missed some fish, lost some fish and even managed to land a couple in a place where fishing can be quite challenging. The day was beautiful! Warm sunny and not to much wind which was a big help. Several nice rainbows were landed!

 

We grabbed a bite and went down to the river to try moving water. The Bureau of Rec had opened the dam a bit I guess just to see if things were working properly for the beginning of irrigation season. The water was a bit off color and there was some salad floating down. The fish weren't on top like they had been but we still saw plenty of fish working. We talked about wading safety and then got in position to try to catch a couple fish. Mending is the main issue on the moving water so on the first day making a good cast and immediately having to adjust your line can be a daunting task. Everyone did quite well and managed to land a couple fish in between tangles and in my opinion they did a fantastic job on the first day!

 

Day 2 I wanted to start with a couple more casting tips to get started so we hit West Newton. After about an hour of instruction we started fishing. The fish are just starting to get active and Scott managed to land 2 real nice cutts about 17". We headed to the river where we enjoyed a nice lunch by river side and then hit the water. Again, it was bright and sunny and we really weren't seeing many fish working.

 

 

We started trying a few different set ups and shortly the fish began to feed. Elizabeth and I went after some fish we saw rising with a dry fly while Scott and Patrick tried some sub surface stuff. Elizabeth finally made a good cast and the fish was on. A nice little cutt on a #22 emerger. Not to shabby for day 2! I grabbed Patrick and we waded across and began sight fish some fish that were taking emergers right below the surface. Patrick landed 7 or 8 nice fish with the last one being a beautiful 18" cutt. Thing were going well! By now everyone had the general idea of what type of water we were looking for so they just started fishing and I simply told stories and helped with the tangles. Fish were hooked lost and landed. We even had a couple doubles! All in all a fantastic day especially considering everyone was just getting started.

 

The guys stayed focused and worked hard and that is what made things happen. They had smiles on their faces all day and showed a huge appreciation for the land that we live in and that's what makes my job one of the best in the world. They are a caring, tight family unit and that is a pleasure to see and be around.  Congratulations on a fantastic first couple days! Enjoy the pictures!

 

Tight Lines!

 
     

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