11 February 2012

Fly Fish the Southwest

Orvis held their annual Orvis Day--Dallas, today, and of course, Cody and I headed north to hear Rob Woodruff, Doc Thompson, and Steve Hollensed speak about their water bodies' fly fishing expertise, and, as always, Sean was on hand to answer my various and sundry questions about fly tying.

I like that the Orvis Day--Dallas is held so early in the calendar year.  From last year's presentation, I learned various tips from each guide that I could and did apply directly to my fishing in 2011.  I was able to land my pending IGFA Bluefin Trevally thanks in part to Rob Woodruff, who gave a tip about wrist action to make the fish fight the entire rod.  I was able to create my fly Bass Brunch thanks in part to Steve Hollenshead, who gave advice on baitfish and fishing the water column.  I was able to fish streams and riffles better, landing me a rather nice-sized Rio Grande Perch at Oktoberfisch, thanks in part to Doc Thompson's advice on fishing the Cimarron and Valle Vidal.

Today, each guide still presented on their home waters, so what could we "experienced" guests learn?  Plenty!  I do not believe if we sat to dinner with each guide for two hours, that we would come away knowing 1/16th of what they know and teach, but we would leave more knowledgeable and be a better angler if we applied what information they shared.

Rob Woodruff, left
Rob Woodruff shared his knowledge on fishing the Lower Mountain Fork, which I personally find a difficult  place to catch trout.  It kicks me in the tail every time I go, but I keep going and keep applying each new piece of information with a little more success each trip.  Rob is excited about the Lower Mountain Fork and believes that it's best fishing is still yet to come, which is good enough for me.  Afterall, Rob is a former Aggie, and Aggies do not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate those who do.  Rob said you have to have your game on when fishing Evening Hole, but that some really nice sized fish are pulled out of there.  The Re-Reg Dam, Zone 3, has some major improvements coming, and while the main riffle leading to Rock Garden is a hot spot for the small stuff, Rob shared where some Big Browns hang out in that Zone.  Hmmm, I am thinking.

Doc Thompson, middle
Doc Thompson gave his expertise on fishing the beautiful waters of Northeastern New Mexico.  For the  first time just last month, I traveled through Doc's "neighborhood," and those are some beautiful rivers he has.  I finally made the connections that both Cody and Doc have shared regarding fishing the Cimarron--the private waters v. the public waters, trout behavior, fishing pools--both emerged and submerged.  I even learned what a Trico is.  The Cimarron is definitely on our Rocky Mountain Tour.  Working and fishing a pool, a riffle, a bubble line were even more valuable this year to me.  How I remember stuff, I do not know, but I do.  When we were on the South Llano last October, the water levels were lower than in recent memory.  Something Doc had said in Feb. 2011, I applied to fishing a riffled chute on the South Llano, and I was able to catch a really nice fish.  So when Doc talked a little more in-depth about fishing pools, I listened and am waiting for my opportunity to apply what he taught.

Steve Hollensed
Steve Hollensed presented Lake Texoma and Lake Murray to us.  I like maps.  (I was the quirky kid who was given the map each month when the National Geographic magazine arrived, and off to my room I'd go for hours studying and reading that map.)  Steve included a slide from the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation.  From its department only, not including the Texas requests, Steve showed us a map of every zip code who had requested a Lake Texoma fishing license.  Maine, Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii were the only places not represented with at least a request.  All other states had a minimum of four license purchases!  I am amazed by that statistic.  I was also amazed that the Stripers travel 88 miles up the Red River and 67 miles up the Washita River to spawn!  We learned rod size, line, location, and time of the year to fish for Stripers, but what I liked best was the information on how to fish for the Smallmouth Bass following those Stripers!   Lake Murray's Smallmouth action was also presented, and I feel it is a must destination for Cody and me.  Having worked as an '09 Park Ranger in Deer Lodge, MT, I was extremely excited about Steve's Skwala Hatch trip, since we fished those rivers on our own that summer.  Cody said to put it on the calendar for Spring Break 2013.  Yes!

Cody has always talked about Crystal Creek Lodge.  I never quite grapsed what the big deal was with this  Bristol Bay lodge, until today.  Oh my word, they have some gorgeous, behemoth Rainbow Trout as seen in their presentation photo.  Cody wants to catch a 30" Rainbow--a bucket list want.  I want to catch a King Salmon on a fly, as well as chase more Dolly Vardens and Grayling.  I really enjoyed Unalakleet and catching these species, but the Bristol Bay Watershed has more of the species, larger sizes of the species, and isolation.  Flying out on a gorgeously maintained DeHaviland Beaver and fishing waters where we are the only people on the water is pristine fly fishing.  I get it, now; I really get it.

Sean Polk, left
I'm seeking good wing material to tye damsel flies.  Margaret Christian taught me a really good pattern that I love, except that the wing material, Swiss Straw, doesn't hold up well to water.  So, I asked Sean his opinion.  Instead of just trying to sell me a fly, Sean graciously shared why and how he tyes his damsels with a technique he learned from Kyle Hand, and Sean took the time to demonstrate a step that I just was not mentally picturing--all this undivided attention on a very busy day.

It was a great day for us, and I can not wait to see what adventures await where I have the opportunity to apply what I learned today!  Thank you, Orvis one and all.

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