27 March 2011

Fly Convention and Invention

Lake Texoma Largemouth Bass

Colorado Bend SP Longear Sunfish
Some flies are better for certain times of year, for example a small, red & white Clouser for White Bass runs, and others are a great fly regardless the season.  I fish often, not as much as I'd like to do, but often enough.  As a result, I use a lot of flies.  One of my favorites is the CodyBugger.  Cody modeled it in WoollyBugger style, but designed a few characteristics just for this fly and added another.  Cody and I love Orvis hooks due to their easily understandable and convenient packaging and really sharp points.  Cody uses an 8808 size 10 and size 12 for the CodyBugger.  Instead of a bead or bead-chain eyes, Cody ties on a small, brass conehead.  He shortens the tail from the typically WoollyBugger, uses Pearl Chenille for the body, and a contrasting grizzly hackle.  In front of the conehead is the new addition; Cody ties on "lips", either red or pink, and the fly is complete.  I love this fly because it catches many different species of fish and many sizes of fish, and oft times, I can use only this one fly and have a 10 - 20 fish day! 

Of course, for me, the CodyBugger will always be special in a way that no one else can experience.  When Cody asked me out on our first date, we were representing the DFF, along with about 15 other tyers, tying flies at Bass Pro Shops, Grapevine.  He asked me to go eat bar-be-que at the Hard Eight; while Cody was asking, he dumped about four CodyBuggers in my hand.  We went on a second date, because the man gave me a fly that caught fish, so I knew we'd have plenty in common and enjoy one another's company.  When Cody asked me to marry him, he tied the engagement ring on to a CodyBugger.  Cody cleverly hiding the ring held up the fly and the proposal began, "What do you think of this fly?" and dropped it in to my hand.  I must admit that is a one-and-only version of the CodyBugger, not to ever be repeated.

Loy Lake White Crappie
Cody and I volunteer with Casting for Recovery as River Helpers.  The first North Texas Retreat was held in November 2009, and our dear friend Diane Blair was preparing to be its leader and coordinator.  The participants learn fly tying while on the retreat, but it seems their newly created flies are too beautiful to get wet.  So, they need a fly to fish and a fly to keep for posterity.  Cody decided that he would alter the CodyBugger slightly just for the 2009 CfR event, and thus, the GirlieBugger was born.  CfR's colors are pink with purple accent.  Keeping that in mind, Cody crafted the GirlieBugger using a pink conehead and deleted the "lips"; the body design remained the same.  There are days when the GirlieBugger is hot, and days when the GirlieBugger catches some fish, but its the CodyBugger the fish hammer.  Either way, I ensure my box has plenty so I can feed the fish what they want.
Lower Mtn. Fork Rainbow Trout, Zone 2

Jason, Cody, and I attended the Dallas Orvis' Fly Fish the Southwest Day, and we heard many great tips and advice on fishing.  Someone in the audience asked Rob Woodruff, discussing bass fishing, about flies.  Rob said for now, to use something that mimics Bream.  Seeing as I have been catching some really nice-size Sunfishes, I began to think about how to tie a fly that mimicked Bream.  Steve Hollensed's presentation covered fishing Lake Texoma.  Steve made several points about the fly needing to imitate Shad.  I looked at Orvis' fly tying materials and found some items that would help with the ideas raging in my head.  
Bass Brunch Gizzard Shad imitation

Bass Brunch Bluegill imitation
I came home and began tying immediately and finally honed the fly to a decent pattern.  I decided to call it the Bass Brunch. I created one for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass in the colors of a Bluegill, and I tied one for Stripers and White Bass in the colors of a Shad, both Gizzard and Threadfin.  Unfortunately, a cold front blew in to our area today, so the fishing is off, and I can not test out my flies.  I'll give this early spring weather a day or two to warm a little, and then I'll hit the waters for the real test.  Bass Brunch may be a good-looking fly, but if the fish don't bite, then it's the Cody or Girlie Bugger on the end of my line with fish in my net.

21 March 2011

Bluebonnets, Bass, & Bluegill Festival at Fort Parker

Warmer temperatures got the sap flowing, trees blossoming, and flowers blooming, including the beautiful Texas Bluebonnets.  It also means that the Bass, Crappie, and Bluegill are in a feeding frenzy. Feeling cheated out of White Bass, Saturday, I decided to see if the warmer temperatures caused the Duckweed to take over Lake Springfield, and while there was significant vegetation growth compared to the February fishing, the pond was still quite fishable, so fish it, I did.  What entertainment the Largemouth Bass and Bluegill doled out. 

I used my 2# rod, and even though the West wind did blow, the nice berm and wooded area provided some relief.  At other times, I let the wind blow me to the east end of the pond, where the fish were much more active.  Sometimes, I challenge myself when I fish--I have to hit a particular spot within two inches; otherwise, if I hook and land a fish, I can't count it; I use only one fly; I can only cast to a spot one time; I count to 15 before stripping in my line, and various and sundry other rules.  Today, it was hitting the spot and one-fly fishing with the GirlieBugger.  For the day, I wangled 17 Bluegill and 4 Largemouth Bass out of Lake Springfield. 

I miss fishing Six-O-Ranch and their Goliath Bluegill, but I think I may have found its replacement.  Lake Springfield Bluegill are not the behemoths that the Six-O Bluegill were, but the Springfield ones are beautifully colored and detailed and a joy to see.  In addition to the fish, there are butterflies, turtles, some are rather prehistoric looking ones that have voracious jaws, and the lake is surrounded by beautiful woods and flowers, not to mention a wonderful solitude.  This lake will only be fishable a few months out of the year, but what a great, go-to spot!

20 March 2011

Spicewood Springs Trail, Colorado Bend SP

Rain, we desperately need rain in Texas.  The lack of rain changed our White Bass fishing site.  Usually, the Sabine River plays host for us to fish the spring White Bass run, but its low, low water levels (4,000 cfs lower than last year) forced a venue change.  We have fished the Colorado River at Colorado Bend State Park for the White Bass, but not as our main source for this annual fishing spree. 

Days leading up to and on the full moon often mean excellent fishing, and since we were at the ranch, we headed to Colorado Bend State Park.  What were we thinking?  50+ people lined up side by side, trying to find a run in the shallows to fish for the same fish?  What idiots we were!  We fished and watched the bait chunkers throwing minnows catching fish, and they were the only ones, with the exception of the one White Bass Cody hooked on a small gray and white, beadchain eye Clouser.  Spending an hour and half witnessing this torture, we packed it in and headed to a really fun spot on the eastern side of the park--Spicewood Springs Trail.

Fishing Spicewood Springs makes one either a better caster or cusser, take your pick.  We used our 1# and 2# rods and fished narrow runs and pools created by cascading waterfalls as Spicewood Springs wended its way down to the Colorado River.  We hiked farther up than we ever have and were not disappointed.  We netted fish that have probably never be caught before.  Small, yes, beautiful, absolutely, and so unafraid that they swam up to us and nipped at our waders and boots.  Where we fished packed like sardines on the river, here we fished just ourselves often times taking turns because the creek was not wide enough for two side-by-side.  At times sheer granite walls surrounded us, and at others, wild oaks, cedars, and shrubs.  Drop-offs and small waterfalls gave birth to each of the pools we fished, and due to the rocky bottoms, the waters were always clear until the mouth of the creek.

Cody hooked up with the bigger fish using the CodyBuggers, and I chose to fish the GirlieBugger.  Our fish were measured by ounces not pounds, but Cody landed several Bass nearing a pound and Bluegill in the 5-7 ounce size.  After suffering zero catches for the White Bass, the small Bluegill satisfied me due to their beautiful colors, including scarlet eyes, and feverent fight.  A 6 ounce Bluegill can put a bend in a 2# rod like a 10 pound Bass can put in a 5# rod!  1.1 pound tippet, 2# rod, and a floating line made for an excellent fishing trip in a majestic, solitary setting.

13 March 2011

Fly Fish Texas

Once a year, the TPWD's Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens hosts an all-day fly fishing extravaganza.  Many area fly fishing clubs converge on the TFFC facility to teach fly casting, fly tying, rod building, seminars on places to fish throughout our state, different kinds of water crafts used to get up into narrow saltwater lake flats or small creeks, different styles and types of fly rods, and what it looks like to catch a fish with a fly rod.  The theme of the 12th Fly Fish Texas was "Tie a fly, cast a fly, catch a fish."

Cody and I volunteered to demonstrate catching fish.  Usually we are in the catfish aquarium casting to 20+ pound catfish, but due to a newly purchased filtration system and not-knowing when funds will come around again to purchase another one when this one wears out, we were not allowed to fish the catfish aquarium.  Those catfish take any where from 20-30 minutes to land, and they fight and muck up the water, so we understood their reasoning, but we were disappointed. We weren't denied total access, though.  The trout stream exhibit was this year's fishing spot, so the public had a great eye-level view of the fish, could watch us cast, and see our fly underwater, watch fish chase our flies, and see fish caught.  Yes, it was casting in aquarium, but how many people say they cast to captive fish?  Even at Bass Pro Shops, they clip the hook off the fly.  Fun, fun, fun!

The TFFC staff saved two nice 16" trout--one rainbow and one brown for the trout aquarium just for us to catch, and so I obliged them by catching the rainbow.  I fished my 4# TFO Finesse rigged with a 150 grain Sharkskin line.  Unfortunately, I chose a 6.6 lb tippet.  Entertaining a crowd of about 25 guests, I caught that rainbow using a red-lipped CodyBugger, and FishOn--for 10 minutes.  Just after the fish's second jump, she broke that tippet clean off.  About 30 minutes and 45 minutes after losing that beautiful rainbow, new guests kept commenting that they knew I had caught her, because they could see the fly still in her mouth, and yes, I use barbless hooks.  Overall, I netted a Largemouth Bass, four Rainbow Trout, one of the most beautiful Bluegill I have ever seen, and two Black Crappie, one was a monster of a crappie.  As much fun as it was and even though Cody appeared in his first magazine in 2006 fishing this same spot, Cody forwent fishing for the day.  I gave Cody his Easter present early, just for this occasion--a pair of Simms G4Z waders, but Cody said he didn't want to get them dirty! 

Having completed the DFF's time slot for catching fish, Cody and I chose to tie flies.  Cody demonstrated tying Crystal Midges, CodyBuggers, and GirlieBuggers.  I tied Bonefish Bitters, and concocted some on-the-spot, crazy crab pattern.  I will be interested to see how it fishes.  At lunch, we met up with other DFF volunteers, and Diane Blair said she taught about 100 people fly casting; Malcolm Duke said he had seen about 25 people per class he was working.  I don't know how many people attended, but looking throughout the facility, visitors, experiencing all facets of fly fishing, could be seen all day. 

At the end of the day, the TFFC holds a raffle.  In previous years, both the public and volunteers could purchase tickets for the raffle.  However, the TFFC staff said that for the quality of items, the raffle did not generate much money from the visitors, so this year, they decided to hold the raffle for the volunteers, as a thank-you.  Both Orivs and TFO donated a Batenkill reel and BVK rod, respectively, to the raffle, and two Project Healing Waters veterans won--a fitting end to a great day!  We love Fly Fish Texas and can't wait for 10 March 2012 and the 13th Fly Fish Texas!
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