Sunday, August 28, 2016

The B.I. Chronicles - Goodbye Until Next Summer

When I think back over the years (six and counting) that I've made trips to Beaver Island, it seems like the last day almost always gets weathered out which ends up being totally fine with the group since after a week on the island it feels like time to go home.
On the last morning it also takes me a bit of time as host to button up the house, pay the bill at the Dalwhinnie Bakery & Deli and tip the girls out, make any last minute flight over arrangements with Island Airways to get back over to the mainland, and finally, get everything squared away with Captain Kevin Morlock of Indigo Guide Service as far as guide fees for the group.  The conversation with Kevin also includes locking in the week for the upcoming year and then making sure The Fisherman's House is reserved as well.  Over the years I've found it's easier to work this all out while still on the island instead of emails and phone calls over the winter.

We woke on the final morning to the winds kicking up and after breakfast it was decided that three of us would stay on the island until afternoon, walking into a couple spots and battle the wind, while the other three would take an early flight over and begin their drive back southward. 

After I had all my hosting duties done, Kevin and I jumped in his truck and drove to several places where we walked in to see if we'd find any carp cruising the shoreline in the off color chop of the waves.  We ended the half day near town and had a few carp slow cruise by with one legitimate shot that I promptly screwed up.  Oh well. 

We waited for awhile longer and then decided to call it.  It was time to head to the airport and then begin the long road trip home to South Carolina.  It had been an excellent week and I am already looking forward to next June to enjoy another week on the island.

Thanks again to the group that tagged along this year and for the hard work by Captain Kevin Morlock, Captain Steve Martinez, and Captain Austin Adduci of Indigo Guide Service making sure we saw a lot of the area and had more than our fair share of shots at carp, smallmouth, and pike.

KICKSTARTER - Sport Bumper: Ski Bumper/Sportsman Bumper Mini

You might remember that over a year ago I posted a quick T.F.M. review on the Sportsman Bumper and since then it's always on the back of the golf cart that we run back and forth from the house to the family pond.  It continues to be a great product and keeps fly rods and spinning rods upright instead of laying in the grass or leaning up against something only to be blown over in the wind and stepped on.

I wanted to tip everyone off that Sport Bumper has a new Kickstarter campaign going on for the newest version of the Ski Bumper and the Sportsman Bumper Mini.

Click PLAY to learn more...

I don't have a ton of use for the Ski Bumper but the Sportsman Bumper Mini is kind of genius as it's small but very useful in keeping track of fly rods or possibly a firearm.

Click through to the Kickstarter page and consider supporting this new project.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Places With No Names - Rolling The Dice

Sunday morning I was up early since I needed to pack up and move out of the hotel room in Sheridan and then meet up with Guide Clark Smyth of Rock Creek Anglers for a day on the water with friend and fly tier, Al Ritt.  We met at the Fly Shop of the Bighorns, picked through the fly bins for a few tricos patterns of course more hoppers and we were on the road just after 7 a.m. after a quick gas station stop for coffee and breakfast on the go.  We drove north to jump the state line into Montana and we were on our way for a twenty mile river float.

When we arrived at the boat landing it was kind of an early morning zoo with drift boats already on the water, guides meeting up with clients in the parking lot, and more drift boats behind pickup trucks rolling in as well.  Clark off loaded the Adipose while Al and I readied our gear and fly rods.  I had never been on this river and there were trout rising here and there even through the traffic jam of the launch. 

Minutes later we pushed off and though we could see birds already swirling around overhead on tricos, Clark's plan was to roll the dice and push past all the boat traffic to get out in front of other boats before the tricos started falling on the water.  This gave Al and I time to check leaders, tie on tippet, and then tie on flies to be ready when it was time to start casting.

As we pushed through the first several miles of river, we started seeing a good rise here, and there, and a few more over there.  Those rises turned into pods of trout in the slack water rising to tricos.  Clark slowed down his push to give Al and I a chance at casting at a few trout and it wasn't long before we both had caught a couple to get the stink off the boat.  

We continued our push ahead for awhile with the occasional stop to cast to a pod of trout that we just couldn't pass up.  We'd get a rise or two and then move on.  Clark wanted to make sure that we were well ahead of the others and as we were approaching a large island in the middle of the river we noticed a string of pods lined up on the right side of the river with actively feeding trout on tricos and then in the middle of the river ahead of a large island, another large group of trout were feeding as well.  This looked like a great place to stop and Clark dropped anchor on a shallow gravel bar.  Al and I hopped out of the drift boat and the cold water felt good wet wading.

Al took off to the edge of the river while I opted to walk upstream to cast to the trout that were feeding by the dozens in the middle of the river just ahead of the island.  Standing in the river you could hear the noise of the riseforms as the trout slurped down every trico they could see. 

The rolling of the dice totally paid off since we had the river to ourselves for almost two hours while we all worked rising trout on small trico patterns.  My preferred setup was a size 18 trico spinner (with pink wings) with a size 20 trico CDC wing emerger off the back.  More times than not the emerger was the winner but rises on the dry fly were fun to see as well.

Since we had quite a few miles to go, Clark suggested that we kept moving forward.  It was still thirty minutes or so before we saw our first boat coming up behind us and it was so great to have all that water to ourselves for so long.

The tricos finally gave up the ghost by late morning so Al and I changed tactics with hoppers on top with or without a small nymph dropped off the back.  We caught a few trout but things slowed down quite a bit from the success of the morning.  Thinking back, especially as it clouded up and turned stormy in the afternoon, I likely should have tossed a streamer but it's hard to break the hopper habit when there's a chance of a big snout coming up to eat it.

Late afternoon and conditions quickly changed from cloudy to looming thunderstorms in the area.  Clark pushed hard on the oars as a storm built up behind us and a heavy rain pushed down as we pulled up to the take out which made for a quick drift boat load onto the trailer, unloading of gear into the trunk, and in minu

Al and I have talked about fishing together for quite a few years now so this was just a perfect day (even with the storm at the end) to share on the water.  Clark Smyth of Rock Creek Anglers put a lot of river miles behind us and along the way showed us around, along with pointing out literally hundreds of trout, on a gorgeous river.  This was my last day on this trip on the water and a great way to wrap up an incredible experience.

GEAR NOTES - Adipose drift boats are crazy spacious so it was no problem to bring a couple fly rods along for the day.  I started the morning with the Swift Fly Fishing Epic 480 paired with an Abel Reels TR2 and the Swift Fly Fishing Glassline four weight double taper fly line.  This is a dry fly dream outfit and certainly one that I reach for over and over.  Clark hadn't fished any of the Epic offerings and was impressed as well.

When I switched over to hoppers, I opted for the Livingston Rod Co. Western Glass 8'6" five weight with an Orvis CFO III lined with Scientific Anglers SharkWave GPX.  The focus of rod maker Dusty Smith with his designs of the Western Glass line up is that they are capable and progressive in taper and this one was made for hoppers inside and out.  I had a great time casting this fly rod throughout the afternoon and I've found my new favorite hopper rod for sure.

CROOKED CREEK HOLLER - $10 T-Shirt Sale Ends Tonight

I know there is a lot of Crooked Creek Holler talk around here lately as part of the Beaver Island Chronicles but Danny Reed is a good friend and I've known the pains of sitting on a ton of t-shirt stock when that money could be going to something cool, like the next fly fishing trip.

Visit the Crooked Creek Holler website today as it's the last day of the $10 t-shirt deal on all the old designs that you'll likely not see again.  There's still quite a few sizes left in most of the t-shirts.

Sale ends TONIGHT so get on it and get yourself some.

P.S.  There are a lot of size smalls in the mix so don't forget your kids.  They want to look super cool too.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The B.I. Chronicles - We Ate Like Kings

Meals each morning on Beaver Island typically fall into a groove of a hearty breakfast at the Dalwhinnie Bakery & Deli with the Captains walk out the door with box lunches to put in the boat coolers.  This has been the setup from the first trip to the island that the day starts at the Dalwhinnie.  There's coffee early, WIFI, and a menu with a ton of excellent choices.   

After a day on the water, typically dinner finds the group at one of the several excellent restaurants on the island with the Circle M and the Stoney Acre Grill topping everyone's liking.  This year's trip was a little different since nearly everyone had spent some considerable time in their past lives in restaurant kitchens and wasn't afraid of loading up a cart at the grocery store to make dinner at the hosue.

Alex Landeen put the camera down one evening early in the trip to create of meal of pork loin with yellow bell peppers filled with a mashed potatoes concoction, and corn on the cob grilled with a mayo and spice mixture that was unreal good.

Later in the week Danny Reed and I worked together with him working the grill on large ribeye steaks for everyone with amade from scratch chimichurri sauce on top.  There was also asparagus and I put together a Southern favorite with two tomato pies as an additional side.

Evenings on Beaver Island are always a time for catching up on everyone's exploits on the water from the day and on this trip certainly no one went hungry...or thirsty.

This Is Fly - Issue 57

The latest issue of This Is Fly is live and just in time for your Thursday morning reading at the office.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Places With No Names - Summer School

As I was in the truck driving out of "Hopper Heaven", a voicemail that popped up on my phone from Guide Scott Schroder of the Fly Shop of the Bighorns saying to give him a call.  I waited until I was back in Sheridan before ringing Scott up and he answered with a friendly hello and laid out the plan for the next day.  We'd meet early at the fly shop and get to the river not too far away accessing a stretch of ranch lease water that Rock Creek Anglers has access to known to hold some solid brown trout.  There was a worry about rising river temps with the very warm daytime temperatures which was the reason for the early start.  No problem as I'm up early each morning anyways.

The next morning I was at the shop at 7 a.m., shook hands with Scott and loaded my gear into his propane powered pickup truck.  The drive to the river gave us some time to get to know each other, finish breakfast and coffee, and build up some anticipation for the day.  I found out that Scott has worked summers as a guide for the Fly Shop of the Bighorns for quite a few years and spends the rest of the year in the classroom as a teacher at one of the nearby schools.  It's not a bad way to break up the year and Scott's on the water a lot over the summer months.  Good guides are often times teachers to the anglers that they fish with and I liked Scott's style a lot.  Teach me, Teacher.

The plan for the day was hoppers and small attractor dry flies but Scott's suggestion to drop a simple stonefly nymph off the back ended up being genius as most of the trout we caught just couldn't pass up the dropper.  Scott did have a great eat on a dry fly to start the morning with a large brown trout coming up for breakfast but more times than not the stonefly was the choice of the day.

If there was something that I noticed with the two days that I fished Rock Creek Anglers private water access, is that the guides are very aware and mindful of everything related to the property.  Scott's focus through our day was the water temperature and made sure as we moved run to run that he was using his thermometer to see where we were at.

By early afternoon it was time to call it quits but that just meant that we circled back to the truck to enjoy a great lunch under the shade of the trees.  The ranch owner, a spry eighty something year old woman named "Honey" rode up on her four wheeler (after she had already been on horseback for several hours to check on the cattle) and talked with us for a bit.  A few minutes later her son spent over an hour talking about their property, the cattle, and how things had changed over the years but seemed to be circling back to more and more small independent ranches like they were running.

This was completely different country than the day before but no less impressive.  It's a little mind blowing to think about family ranch properties in terms of hundreds or even thousands of acres, and to have a quality trout stream following through it makes for a very special experience.

I had a great time with Scott and it was very evident how much he enjoys his summer job as a fly fishing guide.  It was also neat to put a glass fly rod in his hands and see him pick up several excellent trout while I played behind the lens.  

GEAR NOTES - I was looking for a good excuse to use the late prototype Thomas & Thomas Lotic 7'10" five weight that had been sent right before leaving on this trip and this day was a good one to run it through the paces.  The T&T Lotic was paired with a Douglas Outdoors Argus (non-ported) fly reel and 406 Fly Lines Casting For Recovery 5WF fly line.

The Lotic casted wonderfully with the dry fly and but struggled just a bit with a hopper and heavy stonefly on long casts.  Understandable and I'd likely use a different fly line if I was going to hopper/dropper again.  Otherwise, the Lotic is an interesting departure from the Heirloom series of fly rods with a crisper action but still maintains a very fiberglass feel.  It will be interesting to see the final model listing and cosmetics for the Lotic fly rods as this late prototype was a Heirlom (green blank with maroon wraps) in disguise.