Tag Archives: bass

The Dark Side

So, I’m primarily a fly fisherman.

I enjoy the challenge and “skill” sometimes required to pursue my quarry.  I love stalking fish in local gin-clear creeks and rivers with a fiberglass rod.  Heck, I’ll even break out the big guns and sling flies the size of small children on my 6, 7, and 8 weights for some bigger fish on lakes and larger rivers.  I like to think I’m not a snob when it comes to fly techniques; I’m usually willing to try pretty much anything to catch some fish.

Dolores River, October 2010

Even before I became I die-hard fly guy though, I was a weekend warrior bass angler, usually in the company of my dad, who taught me pretty much everything I know about fishing.  We’d spend nearly every weekend on the local reservoir near our house in southwestern Louisiana trying to fill up the freezer with bass fillets.  I’ve picked out baitcasting reel bird’s nests the size of softballs, bailed water out of a swamped bass boat in a storm, and thrown myself overboard when my Zara Spook hung itself in a hornet nest, inciting the natives.

I’ve mentioned it before. but we’re in the middle of pretty much the worst drought in Texas history.  Creeks and rivers are bone-dry.  Lake levels are at all-time lows.  It’s a tough place to be not just a fly chucker, but an angler in general.  I went for a walk one evening last week, and noticed the local neighborhood lake had dropped probably 3′-4′ additional in about a month, which killed most of the vegetation where most of the big boys hung out.  The fish had moved to the opposite corners of the lake, way out of reach of my subpar fly cast.

If I wanted to catch fish, it was time to get serious.

After a couple visits to some of the local big-box stores, I’d re accumulated enough gear to do some damage.  I reoiled and relined my baitcasting and spinning reels, who haven’t seen the light of day in a good five years or so.  I cleaned out my old tackle box, throwing away melted amalgamations of soft plastics that looked like they had come out of the Creepy Crawler machines (seriously if you grew up in the ’90s, you know what I’m talking about).  I was back in business.

You think fly anglers have gear lust? Trying doing both conventional and fly. Actually don't try this if you're married.

After a few visits back to the local lake, it was clear that I hadn’t really forgotten much.  I still remembered how to feather the spool on my baitcaster, how to detect a bite on a Texas-rigged soft plastic, and how to set the hook Bill Dance-style, if I so desired.  Despite the fact that my fly-purist buddies had busted out their pitchforks and torches, and were leading an angry fly-fishing mob to my doorstep, I was having a grand ole time.

These guys don't care if you're using a fly rod or not.

I guess the main point I want to make is that sometimes different situations require different tactics.  For you hardcore fly guys out there, you may a learn a thing or two if you pick up some conventional tackle and give it a shot.  Joe Cornwall over at Fly Fish Ohio has a great article regarding creek fishing with spinning rods, geared towards primarily fly anglers.  That goes for you conventional guys too, pick up a fly rod (or two) and give the other side of the sport a shot.  The results may surprise you.

Solid fish that crushed a chrome blueback Rat-L-Trap

I’ll leave you guys with a quote from Joe Cornwall’s article.

“Break out of the box, and learn some new skills while you’re at it.  If you want to fish more often, or don’t want to lose precious fishing time because conditions are sub-optimal, embrace the inclusion of a spinning rod into your repertoire.  It’s a fascinating sport in its own right, and it’s a great way to learn more about the species you target and the waters you fish.  Angling is a big sport.  It’s a great sport. And it’s too important to our health, our peace of mind and our relationship with the natural world to suffer less of it.” 

As for me, I’ll keep heading down to the local lake until we get enough rain to fill back up the rivers, with a my 7 wt. Fenwick in one hand, and my G. Loomis Baitcaster in the other.  It never hurts to be prepared, and I want to see if I can land another 10 lb. grass carp on a Chug Bug.  Seriously, he just demolished it yesterday.


Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Fishing, Gear


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Guadalupe River Outing – 9/19/11

“How’s Monday looking for you?”

Depending on the person asking the above question, this phrase can illicit a variety of emotions.  From your boss, it might mean you’re about to get more work added to your never-ending pile.  From a “friend” who’s in the process of changing residences, you’re probably about to be enlisted into some backbreaking labor in exchange for a handshake, and perhaps your favorite adult beverage if you’re lucky.

However, from this particular amigo, I knew there was a fishing trip in the works.  I made it clear that I was in.

My alarm jolted me awake at the unholy hour of 5 AM.  As I double-checked my gear by the door, I slowly blinked away the remnants of a particularly strange dream involving a Cliff Outdoors Bugger Beast overflowing with melted soft plastics .  Hoping I wasn’t forgetting anything, I threw my gear bag into the back of the fishmobile, pickup up my buddy and his wife, and headed down to the Guadalupe River for the days outing.

To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement.  We’re currently in the middle of one of the, if not THE worst, droughts in Texas history.  There’s a severe lack of water in the area right now, which puts a big damper on the fishing.  However, good fishing can still be found a short drive in just about any direction, so things definitely aren’t as bad as they could be.

The previous night’s brief (but very welcome) shower had the humidity higher than usual, and there was a slight fog coming off of the river.  We started on the upper section where my buddy hoped to find a few holdover trout.  I was more concerned with locating a sizeable smallmouth, so I tied on my variation of the Autumn Splendor and started working my way downstream.


…right into the side of a submerged log, presumably.  The water was about 59 degrees and over my head, so I broke it off and tied on his twin brother.  A few casts doomed him to a similar fate; obviously I wasn’t  meant to use that fly today.

It had been nearly two months since I had cast a fly rod, but I eventually slipped into the all-too-familar motion of casting, stripping, and heading upstream, while still taking time to enjoy the morning.  I spotted a deer and two fawns on the upper bank, making their way through someone’s back yard, and listened to the various species of birds having their morning conversations.

The sun begin to peer over the trees as my friends and I worked our way upstream, leapfrogging each other along the way.  It was a long while before any of us hooked up, but my friend Chris took the honor of first fish with a feisty smallmouth.  A short time later, Chris’s wife Emily hung into a beauty of a holdover rainbow trout on a gigantic baitfish pattern she had meant for a bass, but the trout threw the hook after a solid tussle.

Sensing it was a “go big or go home” kind-of day, I tied on a muy grande articulated Mike’s Meal Ticket just to see what would happen.

Casting this behemoth on a 5 wt. rod was not fluid and graceful, not that my cast ever is.  It was more me flailing wildly in an attempt that would have sent any lesser streamer into the next ZIP code, but this one made it about twenty feet.  Imagine my surprise when I hooked a 16″ rainbow, who fought with all the tenacity of a limp dishrag.  I supposed I wouldn’t put up much of a fight either if I had two #4 saltwater hooks in my jaw.  In my defense, I was fishing for a beast of a smallie.  The great underwater log gods decided to take this fly after a few more casts, and my wallet cried out in agony.  Good stainless hooks aren’t cheap!

We spent the next couple of hours in the area piddling around.  Chris landed a nice trout on a Pat’s Rubber Legs and then another chunky smallie on the way up.  The only productive thing I did before we broke for lunch was locate an apparent shrine to the tree gods of the river, as seen below:

After a tasty BBQ lunch, I switched rigs to my Steffen 8’6″ 5/6 glass rod, and we switched to a lower spot on the river.  I’ve become somewhat of a glass nut within the past couple years, mainly due to Cameron Mortenson’s excellent blog.  Glass also seems to suit my casting stroke much more favorably.  Plus, who can resist fishing a classy-looking combo like the one below:

I also swapped over to an Olive Crystal Bugger, and it wasn’t too long before I landed this little guy:

Not the beast I’d hoped for, but still a pretty fish.  I didn’t notice when I caught him, but it looks like there’s a chunk missing from his tail as well.

We headed further upstream, as it became increasingly hot.  It may be starting to feel like fall in some places, but central Texas is not one of them!  I drained half of my water supply pretty quickly and reapplied sunscreen, as it became obvious that the weather forecasters were a bit conservative in their projected 89 F high for the area.

We rounded a bend in the river to reveal a shaded deep emerald green pool, a quasi-oasis amidst the oppressive sun.  Sitting on a boulder on the outskirts of the pool, Emily quickly hooked a half-dozen trout, landing three of them:

I couldn’t buy a strike from any ‘bows, but did have a healthy Guadalupe bass slam my streamer before putting on an aerial display that would have rivaled Ringling Bros. He spit my Clouser near my feet after that impressive performance.

We spent a bit longer at the big pool, but were unable to entice any more fish.  We quickly decided to hoof it back to the car in search of cold AC and colder Dr. Pepper, and headed back north to Austin.

While I’ve had much better trips fish-count wise, I feel like a few things finally “clicked” for me, providing me a bit more understanding into how to get the most from my gear. as well as a better clue on how fish think and act.  I’ll share my findings in another upcoming post here soon!

Until then, tight lines!

–Matt, Contributor

Matt is a self-proclaimed fly fishing junkie and fish bum.  He mainly focuses on local warmwater haunts in the Texas Hill Country, but also makes a couple forays a year up to some cool air in the Rockies, and hopes to spend some time getting familiar with the salty air on the Texas coast soon.  He can be found on Twitter here.


Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Fishing, Fly Tying, Trip Report


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Dispatches From Canada

Hi there!

I’m Mat, and I’m Canadian.

First off, to dispel any misconceptions, we do not all live in igloos up here. And it does get quite warm. Even midway through September, we’re still getting temperatures up to 26°C.

Oh wait…we use the metric system. Let me convert that for you: 26°C x 1.8 + 32 = 78.8°F

So yeah. It’s September 14th and it’s 78.8°F.

Anyway, ’nuff about that.

I’m a fly fisherman.

And thanks to the wonders of Twitter, Facebook and Google+, I find myself writing for Mooseknuckle Lanyards once a week about fishing in Canada (and anywhere else my travels might take me).

Today, I’ll write about my home waters. Plural. Because we have a lot of them.

I might happen to live in possibly the greatest location for fly fishing anywhere. As I wrote on my site back in June:

Imagine a town with:

• smallmouth bass fishing within walking distance.

• muskie fishing within walking distance.

• river-run striped bass fishing within walking distance.

• sea-run brook trout within biking distance and/or 25 minutes’ drive.

• pickerel fishing within 20 minutes’ drive

• world-class Atlantic salmon fishing within an hours’ drive.

• striped bass in the salt in an hours’ drive.

• brown trout in an hours’ drive

• even more epic salmon & striped bass fishing within 4 hours’ drive.

So yeah. I consider those pretty good reasons to live here (or to come visit).

In fact, I’m off to go fishing. Right now.

Buy a lanyard & stay tuned for more dispatches from Canada from me, and contributions from other hunters & anglers throughout the blogosphere.

à la prochaine!*

(* – translation: until next time…Canada is officially bilingual. We’re cool like that)

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Fishing


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