If you’re a tarpon angler or have dreams of chasing these silver giants and you haven’t heard of all the controversy in Southwest Florida (Boca Grande in particular) about the use of the bottom weighted “boca grande jig” you may want to take a look at some of the discussion going on between both parties. People in favor of the jig say there is not enough scientific evidence done to prove it snags more fish than a normal jig. The other side, some of whom used the jig for many years before discovering the dark secret of why the jig is effective, have come out saying it is nothing more than a snagging device. My opinion is this: a hook with a weight placed directly below the bend is more likely to snag a fish- period! and if fish are eating the jig than the placement of the weight should not matter. So why all the fuss from the jiggers? Because most of the jiggers are PTTS participants who are looking for bragging rights and prize money for every tarpon they catch, and according to the folks observing the tournaments (and all the photos), many of the fish hooked outside of the mouth are counted for points in the tournament. The “foul-hooking” and poor handling of the fish during the PTTS tournaments (which is nationally broadcast on tv and carefully edited) has not only caused an increased mortality rate, but also promotes a very unsportsmanlike and disrespectful way to catch the worlds greatest gamefish. Wednesday morning the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted in favor of the new regulations regarding the definition of snagging as it pertains to tarpon and also to limit the use of certain gear in Boca Grande Pass. The answer is no surprise to me. The cat is out of the bag on this issue and I don’t see how the PTTS can get out of this one. You can only hide the smell of bullshit for so long… FWC is starting to smell it.
Water on the Milwaukee River has been flowing above average for almost the last three months, and at times it was so high it wasn’t all that practical to fish. The last couple weeks however we’ve seen some warmer weather and a little less rain. Finally, the river is within its banks and has a good three to four feet of visibility. A couple friends and I took advantage of the ideal flows and went for a float and had pretty good results. The water was swift and the fishy lies were coming and going quick so hitting all the spots was tough, but since there were three of us it allowed for everyone to get a shot at fresh spots as we drifted by. Most fish were lying in froggy water in large eddy’s where sometimes the water was only a foot or two deep. One large northern exploded on my fly but I didn’t get a good hook set and it vanished as fast as it came. I had good luck with a Dahlberg Diver while my friend did well on a white spinner bait. Both presentations produced exciting visual takes right below the surface.
Over the years I’ve found throughout my friends whom I fish with and also with myself that since our early days of fishing we’ve evolved from eager, fish-hungry type who strive only for size and numbers to a more patient, grateful kind that has found peace in almost every outing be it good or bad. We’ve also realized over the years that to enjoy these wonderful resources ( lakes, rivers, oceans) we have to do our part to ensure that the rivers and lakes have people to look after them. Although states have Wildlife and Natural Resources agencies to regulate our beloved waters, they alone can not scratch the surface of what can be done to preserve what resources we have. Just like most things in America that make a difference, they have to start from the grass roots… thats you! Friends of the Kishwaukee River, Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, and the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance have gotten together to throw “Love Your River Day” on the banks of the Kishwaukee River. Their goal is to simply spread awareness of both the environmental and recreational value of the River. Hopefully, encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to use and protect your local waters. If you got the day off grab a kayak or canoe and float your way to the Espenscheid Forest preserve for the party. And don’t forget to LOVE YOUR RIVER!
here’s a link for more info.
I went to my favorite local pond on the front range that rarely lets me down, and once again it produced. The Colorado Trio:
Chad Pettrone – Colorado Fly Fishing Guide – www.flyselector.com
Saturday morning Bret and I went to fish some spring creeks south of the Wisconsin River in the Driftless Area hoping for enough sunshine to get some caddis active and find some fish in a frenzy, but really any trout on any fly would do. It’s just that in the last five years the most productive hatches I have ever fished have been from late April through May when the air really starts warming up. Once the grey, spring overcast cracks open to let in some warm sunshine caddis start popping and dozens of trout in each riffle go airborne chasing the emerging flies. During our three hour drive we had plenty of time to discuss our approach for the day… what creek, bridge, flies, and how the weather would play out. All the while I couldn’t get images from past caddis hatches out of my head. I knew that the weather that day called for mostly clouds and was considerably cool for May, but I still had hope that if the sun came out so would the caddis. After several hours of getting a fish here and there on nymphs and streamers I saw the unmistakable “caddis” rise, than another… I was able to make the switch to a deer hair caddis pattern and get two strikes and landed one of the fish. Just as I thought it was about to hit the fan some clouds rolled in and shut it down. The remainder of the afternoon was the same story… Sun would come out, a few bugs would start to show followed by a few rises, and then shut down again by a huge cloud. I however was more than happy with how the day panned out, and left knowing when I return on a sunny day its on like donkey kong!
There is a place that exists where beautiful women catch monster trout all day…
Chad Pettrone, fly fishing guide Boulder, Co. email@example.com
All the rain that passed through in the last month brought the rivers up and the fish have started to make their move. On Sunday I took a look at several different rivers before settling at the Root. The Milwaukee was running slushy and high in most places. Oak Creek surprisingly was void of people, but after walking a good bit of stream and fishing a couple holes it seemed void of any numbers of fish as well. After talking with one of the other few guys out there he seemed to have the same results. When I arrived at the root I could see the water level was up and had the perfect stain to it. We fished a favorite spot of mine for an hour or so and made our way to some of the more popular parks up stream. At the last spot I could see a guy carrying two fish on a stringer up to his truck. This was a good thing for two reasons – one, he was leaving, and two, there seemed to be some fish in this area. My friend Andrew and I fished hard for a while and I was just about to call it a day when finally it happened! A beautiful red male took a swinging fly in a slow foam line behind a downed tree. The ten day weather forecast seems to show the temperature rising. If true, the next 2-3 weeks is gonna be the best time to get at these fish before their focus completely switches gear from defensive predator to romantics with lock jaw. Focus on the fish holding in deep bends and in pools below riffles and you’ll find the more aggressive fish.
Its amazing how picky a fish can be. In any type of fishing we all have run into it. There is such a large variety of ways to not catch a fish, that I don’t even need to describe it…you’ve been there. Well, in fly fishing for trout there is a select diet on the menu. If your a bobber fisherman and throw a worm out there, sure that may work if they want a worm, but it won’t work if all they want is a midge. See, the biggest trout within a naturally reproducing river is like a beautiful woman on a mighty fine evening at an very elequant restaurant. She doesn’t care that you exist. She picked a spot where she can be seen but not bothered. She wants to drink her sparkling water, and eat her vegan mini-food with an upward nose to anything less than perfect. Of coarse, there are the cheeseburger and flies trout over at the bar, but they are nothing like this trout. A trout that can attract this much attention on a daily basis is heavily pressured. Your not the first person to pick up some line, and throw it her way. She knows exactly what she came there for. To be seen, and eat exactly what she ordered.
I ran into this trout over and over again at Cheeseman Canyon the other day. Now, I have to admit I first walked into the canyon like I was going to have my pick of the evening. I walked right up to the first couple fish I saw and didn’t even have my rod rigged up yet…I walked up an was like, pshhht, yah, like what-eve, as if you have a chance at THIS. I’ll have plenty of time to walk around and choose the right one for me, who cares if I spook a couple. I slowly walked upstream on a long sandy flat, being careful to not make any noise. The river was ranging from one to two feet deep, the bottom of the river was mostly a sandstone color with a couple patches of shallow weeds. I saw maybe 6 fish as I walked the 50 yard stretch. I got to the top of the flat where the river was turning off a rock ledge on the far bank, it ran through a couple rocks and dumped into a definitive pool. I stopped, put my backpack down and got my rod rigged up. There were a couple of teenagers wrapping up their afternoon, and heading back on the trail to the parking lot. I looked up for a moment and I asked them, ” How’d you do?”. The two boys dressed in the finest fly fishing apparel parents money can buy said, “We saw a bunch of them!”. So…you got skunked is what your telling me, “Did you catch any?”, I quickly replied with hope I was wrong. The pre-reserved response I awaited, “No.” I continued to think to myself, of coarse you didn’t, look at yourselves, no mature sophisticated trout in their right mind would have anything to do with you. The boys start there trek back up the mountain and I graciously waited until they were a good distance away before I started fishing. I didn’t want to embarrass them with a first cast catch. I tied my rig up and found a couple 15-17″ fish that I was finally ready to warm-up on. I figure, well, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for, but it’ll have to do…
- ……..3 hours later…….I caught my first fish
So, yes, beautiful fish, but it was one of very few. It wasn’t until I started turning over some rocks until I relearn the difference between what I wanted the fish to eat, and what was on the menu. Checking out the insects above and below the water is normally how I start every day of fishing. Its not everyday that you get the chance to go fishing, but in places like this, it is everyday that they have been pitched a pick-up line just like the one your throwing. It is unbelievably inconceivably on the verge of irrational how these fish choose which fly they are going to eat. Presentation is a big part, but if your fly isn’t even in the ballpark of what they want, you don’t stand a chance. Here is a look at the midge in this fishes mouth.
If you are looking to learn the basics of insect identification and fly selection, I have created a helpful tool. Visit www.flyselector.com to see my full-color waterproof insect identification and fly selection card.
Spawning season is upon us in the tail-waters of Colorado. I personally enjoy Feb and March more than any other time of year. The rainbows are pre-spawn, the tourist crowds are still skiing, and the fish are waking up from the winter. The year is new, bugs are starting to grow and change, specifically mayflies. Snow begins to melt mid-day and bring new sediment that will continue to fertilize our rivers throughout run-off. Believe me, fish welcome the slightly off colored water. To a fish that has been in gin-clear water for 3 months eating the same old midge, sediment filled water must smell like steak and potatoes on a BBQ grill. Mix that in with a couple whiffs of perfume from a fat-bellied beauty, and you got yourself a great combination for finding a big fish with its guard down. Of coarse, this does not mean fishing to spawning fish who are sitting right in front of you, protecting fertilized eggs, ensuring the next generation of wild fish…Don’t do it man! : ) But, do help yourself to all the rest of them. Getting out early in the season comforts me. I like knowing that I am not going to be walking on spawning grounds (called Reds), but finding the time in a busy schedule sometimes can mean fishing into the dark.