Tricos- Four Patterns to Fish the White Winged Curse
Day 1 – Bucketmouths and a surprise on a fly

Freezing on Taneycomo

March 18, 2014

Taneycomo rainbow

Warm, temperate, Missouri-springweather was hardly what we got on our day on Taneycomo. Really, it was more like hand-numbing, shivering, freeze-your-waders-off kind of weather. But it sure beats snow and negative fifty-something like we’ve had back home.

We stopped in Branson on the way back from Texas and hit Taneycomo. Braden and I stuck it out for most of the day despite rain and temps in the 40′s. I figured the miserable weather would discourage most anglers from fishing today, but I failed to calculate the horrible affects that cabin fever has on a fly fisher’s restless mind – there were still plenty of anglers plying the frigid waters with flies.

We followed the typical ritual that we perform each time we hit Taneycomo. Grab a few layers of clothes (which happened to be quite a bit this time around), stop at River Run Outfitters for licenses (an awesome shop right by the river), muse on the generation (didn’t exist today!!), find a likely spot (pretty close to anywhere on Taneycomo), and toss a midge at some trout.

The fishing wasn’t spectacular, but Braden and I each put some fish in the net. I managed to stick a nice rainbow (pictured above) on a tan #20 thread midge. He taped somewhere around eighteen to twenty inches and FAT, a good fish and definitely one of the bigger ‘bows I’ve caught on a fly. It was far too cold to take pictures, so the grip-n-grin will have to do for this trip. Fish were eating the typical stuff – midges, scuds, worms at high generation, and streamers (you can check out a few of our favorite flies for Taneycomo here). A few fish were even rising somewhat consistently to little midges, which was a beautiful sight for a few fly fishers that have looked at frozen lakes and snow for the past few months. Despite the rain, it was an awesome day on the water. Taneycomo is always a fun place to fish, and it was a good bridge to spring trout fishing in Minnesota. 

Tight lines,

Conner

Published our first article

I’m incredibly excited to announce the first article we’ve published on the Fishing Gear blog! Head over there and check it out for a few tips that will help you put more fish on the ice when the fishing gets tough…

Selecting Lures for Panfish and Trout Under the Ice – 3 “Triggers” that’ll help you put more slabs on the icetrigger ice flies FG post

If you’re not familiar with Fishing Gear, it’s a great site that showcases specialty hand-crafted fishing tackle from small, independent producers. They’ve put together a great selection of neat gear from sweet companies, including some hand-tied bugs.

We’re very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the site, and hopefully you’ll see a few more posts from us in the near future…

Tight lines and thanks for the support!

Conner

 

Texas Trout – Fly Fishing the Southernmost Trout Fishery in the U.S.

a run on the guadalupe river tx trout fishing Trout fishing is about the last thing that comes to mind when most people think of Texas. More often, images of cactus and flashy bass boats and John Wayne pop up when the Lone Star State is mentioned. Yet a Texas trout stream is exactly where we found ourselves a few weeks ago during spring break. The Texas Hill Country (and the state as a whole, for that matter) has long intrigued me, both for fishing opportunities and the character of the area. I’m not sure if it’s the pictures of obese, popper-crushing largemouths, or the thought of spring-fed rivers coursing through arid, desert-like terrain, or the starkly beautiful and majestic hills and bluffs, but for some reason the Hill Country and the rivers that flow through it have haunted my thoughts more than a few times.

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The wind burst through the giant cypress trees as I attempted to lob my indicator nymph rig in the general direction of “upstream”. Braden and I had been fishing the trophy section of the Guadalupe, home to planted rainbows up to twenty inches, for just about an hour, but the stream was starting to puzzle us. You never know what to expect when fishing a new trout stream, and this one had taken us a bit by surprise. Here the Guadalupe was flowing up against a towering bluff, the current moving quite slowly, almost as if it were distracted from its inescapable task of moving downstream. Most of the water was quite shallow with large slabs of rock cutting out into the river before the water abruptly dropped off into a deep, narrow trench. The dilemma wasn’t so much a problem of finding the fish, as most of the river was about a foot deep, but rather knowing right where the fish should be, sitting out of sight somewhere in the blue waters. I had read a fishing report earlier in the week that ran something like “if you know there are fish in the water (where else would they be), keep switching flies ’till you hook up”. I now understood exactly what he was saying.

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A rare and unique river rising in an even rarer and more unique area, the Guadalupe River first emerges from springs in the headwaters in a similar fashion to most spring creeks in the Driftless Area. The Guad, along with other Hill Country streams, is fed by the Edwards Aquifer, a system characterized by a layer of porous, water-holding limestone. This limestone is the lifeblood of the crystal clear rivers in the Hill Country. Much like in the karst topography found in the Driftless Area and Pennsylvania, the limestone collects and transfers groundwater, eventually regurgitating it in the form of spring fed rivers and streams. The Guadalupe is one of these streams that arises from springs, bursts with life, and flows down through the contrastingly stark terrain. Bass and other warmwater species thrive in the upper stretches before it flows into Canyon Lake, a massive impoundment of over eight thousand acres of deep, blue water. When the Guad re-emerges from Canyon dam, invigorated by its journey through the lake, its slightly blue waters are icy cold – and able to sustain trout, making it the southernmost trout fishery in the United States.

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The indicator rig wasn’t doing me much good with the slow current and fierce wind. I had only seen one trout the whole afternoon, a thick-shouldered bruiser rainbow that lazily floated up from the blue waters, grabbed something microscopic off the calm surface, and sank back into the depths, out of sight, just as quickly as he appeared. I chopped off my clumsy nymph rig and rummaged through my fly box until I uncovered a #12 bead head Chickabou Bugger.

The Guad at Rio Raft

The Guad at Rio Raft

Streamers, I’ve found, are best suited for fishing this type of water, which seemed to be unable to make up its mind between behaving like a stream or a stillwater. The trout that live there seem to have a hard time, too, cruising the slow current in all directions, yet always keeping a wary eye out for food being washed down by the gentle current. They can be both the toughest and easiest fish in the stream to catch. Some are warier than a whitetail during gun season. Others – especially stockers – appear to be bored with their somewhat monochromatic environment, eager to pound the daylights out of anything than comes in sight. Those were the ones I was after.

Nothing really happened for the first few holes. Though there was a gentle current, I followed my standard stillwater streamer fishing procedure – tossing the woolly bugger upstream, letting it sink through the almost imperceptible current for what seemed like an eternity, and slowly dragging it back with a varied cadence of tugs and twitches and pulls. I changed it up a few times before a trout finally found it to his liking. The familiar tug of a fish – the first I’ve felt on a fly rod for nearly five months – coursed through the rod as a strong rainbow headed for the other side of the river. He rolled on the surface a few times before I scooped him into the net. A stocker, no doubt, but a great fish to start the season!

Rainbow on the trophy section, taped around sixteen or seventeen inches...

Rainbow on the trophy section, taped around sixteen or seventeen inches…

After releasing the trout, Braden and I decided to check out a different stretch of stream. We ventured out of the trophy section and hit the deep pool right below the dam. The pool was bordered by a big slab of cement and barbed-wire fences as the water tumbled out of the spillway – hardly a scenic spot, but definitely worthy of investigation. This stretch receives a healthy dose of smaller rainbows from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. canyon dam

Face full of meat!

Face full of meat!

It only took a few casts before a spunky ten inch rainbow smacked my streamer. Every couple casts a trout would dart out of the turbulent blue waters and slash at our streamers Action was non-stop for the next hour, and Braden and I pulled in around sixteen little ‘bows on woolly buggers before a thunderstorm pushed us off the water just before dark. Streamers were definitely the ticket for these aggressive rainbows, accounting for all our trout besides one little guy that ate a Tellico-style soft hackle.  nymphing a run on the guad

The hot Texas sun made a full appearance the next time we hit the water a few days later, but the trout didn’t seem to mind. We hit the same stretch below the dam. It was more like bluegill fishing than your typical trout scenario – small flies and light tippets had no place. Stretching all of eight inches – or twelve for a big one -, the fish weren’t monsters, but still lots of fun on streamers. Most of the time the fly wouldn’t survive for more than a minute before being jolted by an eager rainbow. It wasn’t hard fishing, but it’s the kind of day every fly fisherman needs once in a while. Noah tagged along this time and fished his glass 4 wt., which was a blast with the spunky rainbows. Each time his hook managed to stick, the little rod would bend and throb profusely under the strain of the small trout.

Bugger-eating rainbow on glass

Bugger-eating rainbow on glass

Noah got this bow on a bugger, Guadalupe River TXI lost track after half a dozen rainbows. We had a blast pulling fish out of the pool for the next hour or two. I played around with a few flies and rigs, but a woolly bugger with a small split shot was a sufficient offering most of the time. Braden tossed a #6 with a conehead – a big meal for the little ‘bows – and did quite well. Smaller streamers also produced a good share of trout. streamer fishing the guad

A better fish for this stretch...

A better fish for this stretch…

fly fishing the Guadalupe river

Texas is hardly a place you’d expect to find trout, but it hosts a surprisingly good fishery. Though the trout in the Guadalupe may not be wild or particularly discerning, it’s a blast to hit the water and toss streamers or nymphs to big rainbows in the heart of the Lone Star State.

It seems that winter still has a faint grip on the Northwoods, but things should start to warm up and melt pretty soon. Until then, we’ll be tying some bugs in preparation for the upcoming statewide trout opener, which is only a couple weeks away!

Tight lines,

Conner

Also, be sure to “like” us on Facebook for Driftless fishing reports, fly patterns, and the latest happenings on the blog!

Local Texas fly shops….

Reel Fly, Canyon City

Action Angler

Gruene Outfitters

Texas bass on the fly, spring break, and a few bugs

My fly box is a mess, the leader on my 6 wt. is shredded, and the waders are still damp in the garage. Over 2,000 miles in the truck, half a dozen states, and a few fish later, we’re back in the North country after a great spring break trip to the Texas Hill Country. Headquarters for the week were near the banks of massive Canyon Lake, the source of the southernmost trout fishery in the U.S. – the Guadalupe River. We’ll post a full report soon, but in the meantime here are a few pics from the trip…

largemouth on the fly guadalupeWe didn’t bass fish nearly as much as we would’ve liked (does anyone ever do enough bass fishing in TX?), but Braden managed to stick this fat bucketmouth on a Meat Whistle during  the first day of the trip. Besides the first two days when temps crept into the eighties, the weather was not conducive to bass fishing. It actually froze overnight early in the week, with a nasty cold front dropping temps over fifty degrees one night – not exactly the conditions you’d hope for when bass fishing the clear waters of the Hill Country. I’m not complaining though, as we spent plenty of time trout fishing and fifty degrees actually felt pretty good compared to the subzero temps that have been typical in Minnesota this year.

The Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe River a ways below Canyon Dam. This section holds some nice rainbows.

On the fly tying side of things, the bugs have been flowing off the vise. We’ve been tying everything from bass flies to trout nymphs to ice flies for orders and the upcoming season….

Trout flies headed to Wisco and Indiana

Trout flies headed to Wisco and Indiana

Slab Spikes for hardwater panfish

Slab Spikes for hardwater panfish

Can't wait for the lakes to open up and toss some poppers...tied up these guys for a friend

Can’t wait for the lakes to open up and toss some poppers at a few bass…tied up these guys for a friend

Tight lines,

Conner

 

 

 

Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo 2014

Here are a few shots from the Great Waters Expo that took place up in Blaine this weekend. We had a great time wandering the booths and met some awesome people from the local Midwest fly fishing community….jasonstewartflytying

Musky guide Jason Stewart tying up a warmwater bug at the Great Lakes Fly Shop booth. John had a great spread of gear for fly fishing the northwoods and had plenty of his signature frogs in the fly bins too. If you’re ever in Duluth be sure to stop by and check out his shop

John Fehnel's signature frog. Great Lakes Fly Shop

John Fehnel’s signature frog. Great Lakes Fly Shop

More frogs....

More frogs….

Sneaky Bunny tied with a Holo-head. Lund's Fly Shop owner Brian Smolinski has some great stuff over at Misfit Fly Co...

Sneaky Bunny tied with a Holo-head. Lund’s Fly Shop owner Brian Smolinski has some great stuff over at Misfit Fly Co…

troutcupcakes

Trout cupcakes!! Robert Hawkins had these awesome cupcakes at the Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop booth…

bobmsflyshopWe had a great conversation with Damian Wilmot and Matt Paulson at the Superior Fly Angler booth. Damian is the owner of Fly By Night Guide Service, specializing in night fishing and steelheading on the Bois Brule. He also runs warm water fly fishing trips and grouse hunts - definitely an awesome adventure in northern Wisconsin! Matt Paulson of the Superior Fly Angler was twisting up some cool steelhead flies for the upcoming season. He runs a full service fly shop near the legendary Bois Brule River, a great stop for fly fishermen hitting the Superior tribs.

steelheadbugs

mplsflyarticulationmusky

Meat at the MPLS Fly table…

deermeatmplsfly

Had a great time at the Jolly Fly Fishing booth. Ben Carlson runs guided trips on the Rush, Kinni, and smaller Driftless streams. Be sure to check out his site and blog...

Had a great time at the Jolly Fly Fishing booth. Ben Carlson runs guided trips on the Rush, Kinni, and smaller Driftless streams. Be sure to check out his site and blog…

One of the coolest booths at the show belonged to John Piacquadio from the Twin Cities Urban Fly. An artist and guide that frequents the urban waters of the metro, John had some sweet limited edition fly prints on display…

Carp fly!

Carp fly!

urbanflyartworknymph

twcurbanflycard

Hardwater

Winter has settled in here in Minnesota, and it’s been a particularly harsh one this year. It seems like most of the time temperatures struggle to stay above zero or in the single digits, but only the harshest of frigid subzero days have kept us off the ice. Chasing crappies and bull bluegills over on the “crappie hole” has taken most of our time this winter.

Fooled this crappie with a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike ice fly

Fooled this crappie with a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike ice fly

The “crappie hole” is our home water, and where we’ve spent most of our time on the ice. Though hardly considered a lake by Minnesota standards, the pressure the little hundred-acre lake receives is insane. The number of weekend anglers that take up residence on the ice surpasses the population of more than a few small towns. Despite the armies of ice fisherman that hit the water each winter, the lake sustains a surprisingly decent population of crappies, bluegills, bass, and pike. It’s not a Mille Lacs or Lake of the Woods, but the murky little lake holds its own special charm. sunset on the ice

The first few ventures on the ice during the last week of December weren’t particularly productive, but we caught a decent number of fish each time. On about our third trip, we caught up to the bull ‘gills on a “remote” weed bed that only had a handful of ice houses within a hundred yards. We found bluegills holding in the weeds in ten feet of water, with crappies roaming the flats in fourteen feet of water, which is the deepest the lake hits. Ice flies and tungsten jigs tipped with waxies produced plenty of bluegills in the day and crappies low light. I fished a new TUNGSTEN Slab Spike (which is now available on Fishing Gear!!:) on a tight lining setup and put some nice fish on the ice. The tungsten bead got it down quickly and allowed me to fish it solo, which was great for hole hopping and active jigging.bluegill and crappie dinner icefishingbradens crappie in the dark

SAMSUNG

Stuck this bull 'gill on a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike

Stuck this bull ‘gill on a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike

Fishing has been pretty good this year, and we’ve had some great times on the ice chasing panfish. A trip up north is in the works, so hopefully we’ll catch up to a few walleyes. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for recent reports from the ice.

Tight lines,

Conner