On a recent trip to New Orleans I managed a day on the water for redfish and the guide reported, “You should be here at the end of October, because that’s the best time for the big bull reds. You’ll see 20-pounders all over the place.” And my reply? “Yea, what isn’t October best for?” Therein lies the fall quandary.
You can hear it as soon as you step on the Centerville property. It gets louder as you walk down the grassy path, past the flats skiff and the old Bahamian smuggling vessel up on stands. From the open barn door near a small pine grove, in the humming, electric air, an urgent buzzing pops. Inside, from the rafters hang fly rods, surfboards and yacht club burgees.
- Photography by: Bob Mahoney
We’re hearing a lot about the new products fly companies will unveil in 2012 (and rest assured, FR&R and Angling Trade will detail the hot newcomers before they even hit the racks of your favorite fly shop). Here are a few hints: Patagonia is coming out with a wading boot that uses mountaineering technology to dramatically improve traction. Sage shelved its Z-Axis in favor of a rod line called “One”; by early accounts, it is indeed something special. Orvis, Hardy and others are introducing new products across wide price ranges that should have consumers chomping at the bit to try (and buy). Overall, I expect 2012 to be a solid new product year—one of the best in a decade.
Like “the important part of fishing” says, the process is often more important than the product, and this is particularly true when it comes to fly-fishing. Perhaps, that’s why I enjoy road-trips so much. Whether it’s watching the sun come up while I pull a boat to the river, or the long quiet on drives home, time on the road has become an integral part of my fishing experience, and the music I listen to while driving is fundamental to the experience.
Reviews of: Atlantic Salmon Magic and The Dry Fly Gospel.
If not for their horse, ORV and jet-boat hatches, the first two scenic rivers designated by Congress would offer only inspiring scenery and quiet, enjoyable fishing.
- Photography by: Mark Morgan
- and Greg Iffrig
The most difficult part of solving any moving-water midge situation is figuring out when you’re in one. Midges are usually so small, and so often hatch at either dawn or dusk, that it’s often impossible to see them. You see trout rising, you suspect they’re not doing it as a hobby, but you can’t see anything they might be taking. When that happens, make midges your first thought because they might be dying in those rises.
- Photography by: David Hughes
Black drum get no respect. And I really don’t know why: THEY TAIL while feeding on the flats, you can sight-cast to them in shallow water, they are plentiful, they grow to more than 100 pounds (that’s not a typo), they can fight hard and they are not easy. If you haven’t cast to a big, tailing black drum, I recommend you give it a try. You may become a better angler for it. I have always thought that when you go after a new species, you can’t help but learn more about the fish’s environment and the different foods in their habitat, while improving your casting accuracy, fly manipulation and fish-fighting.
- Photography by: Chico Fernandez
Looking forward to the late fall and winter, my neighbors in Fairhope, Alabama, duckaholics for the most part, work themselves into apoplexy anticipating the beginning of their annual bird slaughter. Those not as mad at them ducks might turn their attention to catching redfish in Louisiana or Texas. But, I don’t care for freezing my butt off in futile attempts to blast mallards from the sky, nor for hauling my boat down to the Biloxi Marsh to stalk fickle redfish that disappear on anything other than a perfect bluebird day.
- Photography by: Tosh Brown
- , Greg Thomas
- and Walter Kirkland
Like most anglers of a certain vintage, I began fly-fishing with fiberglass rods. Cane rods, aside from their prohibitive cost, were considered a bit old fashioned, and “graphite” was still a word that applied to pencils. Fiberglass was modern technology, a lighter, stronger, more versatile, “high-performance” material, and to many fishermen, that automatically meant that we had to have it. Some things never change.
- Photography by: Greg Thomas
I enjoy watching friends fish, but this debacle was too much and I was on the verge of losing it. My pal Dan Summerfield had just missed, like, 15 eats in a row.
“WTF,” I shouted from my perch above Idaho’s North Fork Clearwater River, mocking our dreadful societal sway toward slaphappy acronyms, as if I were texting instead of sharing an afternoon on the water with a friend. He answered, “This size 20 Baetis is so small I just can’t get a good set.”
- By: Greg Thomas
- , Tom Keer
- , John Holt
- , Skip Morris
- and Matt Supinski
- Photography by: Louis Cahill
I have adventure-seeking in my blood; my great grandfather hunted sharks for their oil from a wood skiff during World War II and was a market hunter during the Klondike gold rush; my sister used to cruise around Alaska on commercial fishing boats and now runs fish-buying operations there; my father was a part-time commercial fisherman and hunted mountain goats and brown bears in Alaska; and an uncle and a cousin are cut from that mold, too, one brewing moonshine and prospecting for gold in Idaho, the other a trapper, a bow-hunter and a sailor who now wants to ride a horse, solo, across Mongolia.
- Photography by: Greg Thomas
One evening in mid-may, Jenny Muldoon caught her first largemouth bass, on an orange popper. That beautiful three-pounder fell for a really ugly fly. We tied that popper together, figuring how best to hold everything on the hook, how a whip knot should go. It’s hard to tie a knot when you’re reading about it.
- Photography by: Fred Thomas
Why on earth do we need a fly reel that pulls over 30 pounds of drag? That was the question when Hardy unveiled its new Fortuna X fly reel at the recent International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, in New Orleans. Jim Murphy, President of Hardy North America, and Andy Mill, renowned tarpon angler and author who helped develop the product, said it’s all about big fish. They explained: If you’re fishing IGFA class tippet, you are limited to a maximum10kg breaking strength, so you don’t need that much drag. If you’re going for big billfish, tuna, shark or the like, however, and aren’t concerned about records, this reel allows an angler to really put pressure on a fish. That said, if you’ve never fished an outfit with 20-plus pounds of drag, especially on a longer rod giving more leverage to the fish, you’ll quickly find out why people use fighting harnesses.
- By: Ted Leeson
- , Buzz Bryson
- and Zach Matthews
One of my favorite go-to nymph patterns is a Brown Stonefly Nymph. I usually turn to it when there is no hatch and I can’t find success with a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear or the tried-and-true PT Nymph. This Brown Stonefly Nymph and others like it are killer patterns in large streams with rapid current creases and rolling water. Drop it anywhere you think a trout might lurk, as near to bottom as you can, and you’re liable to hook a nice trout. By nice, I mean something above 14 inches. Brown trout, especially, seem to relish this mouthful of protein, but rainbows and cutthroats take it, too.
The best motel in Basalt, Colorado is the Green Drake. It’s clean, plain, not too expensive and you can guess from the name that fishermen are welcome. The resident dog is named Baxter. He’s a hundred-pound yellow Lab, and a friendly and sudden leaner. You quickly learn that when you stop to pet him you have to throw a leg out and brace so he doesn’t knock you over.
You’d have to describe the place as nice and homey, but it hasn’t entirely escaped the gentrification that’s occurred in the 25 years since Basalt was a workingman’s alternative to nearby Aspen. In almost any other town in the West, this establishment would be called “The Green Drake Motel,” but here it’s “The Green Drake: A Motel.”
- Illustrations by: Bob White