rainbow trout

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

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, 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

Ice Flies and Hardwater Trout – 3 Brothers Flies ice fly review by Kevin Jones from Idaho Pursuit

A slab rainbow that fell for a 'Gill Shrimp (Photo credit: Kevin Jones from Idaho Pursuit)

A slab rainbow that fell for a ‘Gill Shrimp (Photo credit: Kevin Jones from Idaho Pursuit)

Kevin Jones from the Idaho Pursuit blog recently did a review of our ‘Gill Shrimp and TUNGSTEN Slab Spike ice flies and caught some great trout in the process. Kevin also has some awesome ice fishing and hunting stuff on his blog, so head over there and check it out….3 Brothers Flies Ice Flies

A nice brookie on a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike (Photo credit Kevin Jones, Idaho Pursuit)

A nice brookie on a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike (Photo credit Kevin Jones, Idaho Pursuit)

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Year In Review

2013 was an awesome year for us, and looking back I think we can say it has been our best year of fishing yet. The bass fishing was on fire this spring up at the cabin, and each of us added personal bests for multiple species. We fished quite a bit with both fly and spin gear, and were truly blessed to have the opportunity to catch some great fish in awesome places. A huge thanks to everyone who reads our adventures and tight lines in 2014! Here are a few of the highlights, in no specific order…

Driftless Trout

We didn’t make it down to the Driftless many times this year, but we did bushwack into an awesome creek deep in the remote “backcountry”.

Rugged country in the Driftless "backcountry"

Rugged country in the Driftless “backcountry”

Driftless brown trout on a frenchie ptn

A small spring that gurgled out from the bluffs

A small spring that gurgled out from the bluffs

September found us on the South Branch of the Root river for our annual Driftless fall camping trip. This trip is one of our favorites, and this year we hit a good trico hatch and caught plenty of wild browns.

South Branch Root River wild brown with some great colors

South Branch Root River wild brown with some great colors

Another wild brown Braden got on the MTMN

Another wild brown Braden got on the Trout Snatcher

Braden got this Driftless brown on a micro tubing mayfly nymph

Colorado

I caught my first few trout on a fly in Colorado, so I was excited to go back in 2013. High, cold water and snow made things a little tough, but we managed to scrape out a few fish, including some fat rainbows, a cutthroat, and a grayling

mountain lake in coloradobraden's colorado rainbow troutcutthroatSAMSUNG

Mountain Whitefish! Noah stuck this whitey on a midge that he tied while fishing the Elk River.

Mountain Whitefish! Noah stuck this whitey on a midge that he tied while fishing the Elk River.

Florida

In January I added a few new species to my list and reached a big goal in my fly fishing ventures, catching a fish in saltwater on a fly rod! I caught a few little seatrout on Sanibel Island on a Schminnow while wading a grassy flat. They weren’t monsters, but they were fish! Braden also hooked a few, but they unfortunately popped off before he could land them.

Small spotted seatrout that ate Norm's Crystal Schminnow

First fish in the salt!!

Sanibel Island spotted seatrout on the fly

A pod of three dolphins swam over and checked us out while boating in a bay.

A pod of three dolphins swam over and checked us out while boating in a bay.

sunset on the GulfOne of the more memorable (and crazy) catches of the year also came in Florida on a small citrus grove pond, where we got chased out by a gator!

Don't harass the gatorsgator staring us down in FLIMG_3765

Bass Opener

2013 was easily the best year of bass fishing we’ve ever had. With the late spring and colder, cloudy weather, Opening Weekend here in Minnesota was just awesome. The fish were in the shallows and hungry, still fat with eggs. Noah put three fish over 4.5 lbs on the board in the first afternoon of fishing, beating his personal best on almost three consecutive fish! The fishing was amazing, and we caught lots of fish on both fly and spin tackle.

Noah stuck this nice 18 incher on a "Stupid Tube" rig

Noah stuck this nice 18 incher on a “Stupid Tube” rig

Five pounder

Five pounder

Another pig!

Another pig!

Hungry little guy

Hungry little guy

3 pounds 11 ounce bass on a fly rod in Minnesota on meat whistleBraden's bass up at the lakesunrise on the bass lake 3

 

The walleyes were also in the shallows searching for a meal around low light. I landed my first walleye on a fly rod and my personal best, a 23 incher that hit a Meat Whistle right after dark….

First walleye on the fly! A nice 23 " fish that slammed a Meat Whistle up in the shallows.

First walleye on the fly! A nice 23 ” fish that slammed a Meat Whistle up in the shallows.

We also did some trolling in deeper water and Noah launched floating Rapalas on a shallow flat after dark. Both methods produced some gold...

Grandpa's walleye

walleye after dark on a Minnesota lake tossing floating rapalas100_4779

Toothy critter

Toothy critter

Boundary Waters

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the MN/Canada border is one of the best fisheries in the Midwest. We trekked up there at the end of July for a week of canoeing, camping, and fishing in the rugged wilderness. To put it lightly, the weather was less than ideal, with record low temps approaching freezing, heavy wind up to 20 mph, and a constant cold drizzle all week. Whitecaps hammered the lake we were on, leaving us shorebound for most of the trip. We toughed it out, however, and caught some awesome fish. Noah landed a MONSTER of a 36 inch pike that will probably go down as the best fish of 2013….Noah's monster Boundary Waters pikeNoah's 36 inch pike on Basswood LakePike!

Boundary Waters bronzeback on the fly

Boundary Waters bronzeback on the fly

Lake Fishin’

We fished up at the cabin a few times this summer…

27 incher

27 incher

 

Nailed this largemouth on a chartruese meat whistle at the culvert

Nailed this largemouth on a chartruese meat whistle at the culvert

 

Grandpa caught this nice crappie while trolling for walleyes

Grandpa caught this nice crappie while trolling for walleyes

A Flash Bugger streamer fooled this nice bluegill

A Flash Bugger streamer fooled this nice bluegill

Braden stuck this huge 20" largemouth right up in the shallows! Definitely one of the best fish of the year and his personal best bucketmouth.

Braden stuck this huge 20″ largemouth right up in the shallows! Definitely one of the best fish of the year and his personal best bucketmouth!

 

Lake Pepin

In the spring we made the trip down to Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River to chase some walleyes. It was a great day of fishing, and we boated lots of fish, including some white bass, plenty of walleye and sauger, and a few smallmouth…

100_4913100_4906100_4918

Hunting

We did quite a bit of duck hunting this year. Braden and I also got into bowhunting and hunted a few times this fall….morning in the duck blindoctober goose mn

Ice Fishing

We ended the year with some hardwater fishing on the “crappie hole”, a small local lake that has produced some slabs for us in the past…

bluegill and crappie dinner icefishing sunset on the ice bass through the ice

Fooled this crappie with a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike ice fly

Fooled this crappie with a TUNGSTEN Slab Spike ice fly

bradens crappie in the dark

On the fly tying side of things, our flies are now available on Fishinggear.com. We’re offering hand-tied flies and ice flies including some signature patterns that we tie and fish.

2013 was a great year for us. We all learned lots as anglers and spent plenty of time in God’s awesome outdoors. A few personal records were broken, and we caught some great fish. Thanks for the support and tight lines in 2014!

3 Brothers Flies

Colorado Fly Fishing

In the middle of October the crew took a trip out to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Yampa River, known for its big rainbows and browns, flowed right through town. Our first stop was Steamboat Flyfisher to grab a few flies and some gear. The guys in the shop were super helpful and pointed us toward some great spots on the river. If you’re ever in the area, definitely stop in and give them a visit, they run an awesome shop.

We started fishing a stretch on the Yampa right in town. The water was a bit high and stained, so we rigged some nymphs and started hitting the pockets and runs behind the many boulders. Noah stuck a nice brown swinging a white conehead wooly bugger, but he popped off right at the net. After a few minutes of tossing flies without any results, we decided to move to a more familiar stretch.

braden's colorado rainbow trout

One of Braden’s fat rainbows

Next we hit a piece of water where I actually caught my first trout on a fly. The river split into a side channel and flowed past a big pond that held plenty of stocked rainbows. Braden pulled a few fat stockers from the pond on a dry, and I busted off couple strong rainbows in the river dredging an indicator nymph rig. My 6X tippet was no match for the hefty rainbows and heavy current, and more than a few fish shot off downstream and shredded my line. The 6X was the only tippet I had, so unfortunately none of the bigger trout made it to the net. I ended the day with two little ‘bows on a #16 Frenchie.

Dry fly rainbow

Dry fly rainbow

Monday brought snow and some nasty conditions on the river, but I hit the water anyway. The fishing was pretty slow, and I honestly wasn’t fishing very well. I briefly connected on a few good trout before they popped off.

We fished a new stretch a ways upstream from town on Tuesday. A slow meandering river and rising trout greeted me as I strung up my rod. The trout were steadily sipping olives in the slow water and riffles. I made a few casts with a BWO parachute, but quickly got refusals. A fly change later, I stuck a rainbow on a #20 CDC BWO Comparadun, but he popped off after a decent fight. I pricked a few more fish before discovering the hook was bent out. Braden put a fat 17 incher in the net before we called it a night.

Elk River

The snowmelt made some trouble for us on Thursday. A habitat improvement project blew out the river, so after an hour of flogging the chocolate milk we wandered up to the Elk River hoping to pull some rainbows from the icy water. The frigid water temps from the recent snowmelt made things tough, and I only managed one rainbow on a #12 Mercer’s Micro May. The river was gorgeous, though, with mountains and pines towering above the rushing water.

Mountain Whitefish! Noah stuck this whitey on a midge that he tied while fishing the Elk River.

Mountain Whitefish! Noah stuck this whitey on a midge that he tied while fishing the Elk River.

The three of us hit the Elk again on Friday morning for the last day of the trip. Snow fell softly as we dredged the pocketwater with nymphs and split shot. Again, the fishing was pretty slow, but Noah stuck a nice mountain whitefish on a midge, his first on a fly. Later in the afternoon we hiked and fished a small lake up in the mountains that supposedly held cutthroats and a few grayling. The other two only fished a few minutes before deciding to hike in the thin layer of snow that blanketed the bank. I trekked over to the dam and pulled a gorgeous 17 inch cutthroat from the crystal clear water on a #12 Chickabou Bugger. A few casts later I hooked into another good fish. After a short fight, I put a grayling in the net! I was pumped! Cutthroats have been on my dream list for a long time, but I never imagined I’d catch a grayling, not to mention getting both within a few minutes! I released it back into the icy waters and decided to call it a day.mountain lake in colorado

cutthroat

Awful pic, but a beautiful fish

SAMSUNGIt was an awesome trip, and though the trout could have cooperated a bit better, it was great to fish out west! Winter is officially here in Minnesota, and its time to tie some flies or hit the ice for a few panfish…

Tight Lines,

Conner

Baby Trout

To some people, fishing for 3-6″ trout is pointless and a waste of time. But for me, just getting the chance to fish and enjoy the beauty of Creation is a blessing. I love fly fishing for trout even if they’re small.

A while back we fished a small stream near our cabin. We caught little baby brown trout, ranging from 3-4 inches.

Dirty hands, beautiful trout!

The stream was beautiful too.

The streams that these trout live in are almost always stunning. Fishing Lake Taneycomo has its place for the big trout; but these small creeks are just as beautiful as the wild trout that live in them.

In November, we took a week to explore the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Just casting my rig up into the current seam and having a tiny trout come up and engulf my fly is really amazing. It’s hard to put into words.

This guy took a #12 Adams

The Smokies have really great waterfalls.

The colors on these fish are incredible!

Baby trout are fun and challenging. I’m looking forward to catching some more in 2013.

Tight Lines,

Braden

 

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