Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Had to spend some time out of town for training down in Atlanta, Georgia this past week , not great timing for a week out of town but I tried to make the most of it by spending a little purdeem money on a 3-day license and gas to get us to the river each night. First stop Monday after class was the local flyshop , Fly Box Outfitters in Kennesaw Georgia. The store manager , Willie, gave us the lowdown on what sections of the river to hit as well as some hot patterns for the local water. He was a great guy and took the time to sit around and talk fishing with us for a little while before we took off. That's the kind of shit you don't find in those big box stores and just one more reason to support your local flyshop. After picking up a few items and some great intel, we decided that we had just enough light left in the day to go look at the river and see what kind of water we were dealing with.
The closest access was about a 35 minute drive for us so we set off to check it out. By the time we arrived we only had about 30 minutes of daylight left.
We walked down to the river and then followed a trail upstream for several hundred yards checking out the water for spots we wanted to hit the next evening. The water looked damn good , lots of riffles and large boulders midstream creating eddies and seams that just begged to be fished.
We left pumped up about hitting the river tomorrow and hopefully catching our first Georgia trout.
The next day Ron and I seemed to ask fewer questions than normal in class, maybe subconsciously hoping to get out a little early and give us more fishing time, the boss would've been proud I'm sure. I think our trainer for the week thought we were crazy as well , the weather was less than stellar with windy conditions and temps only in the 20's.
Figures that I head South and a $$@#!$$! cold front follows me all the way from KC.
As it turned out we had about 2 hours of daylight to play with when class dismissed, better than nothing. We arrived at the Chattahoochee National Park and hurriedly threw the rods together and donned waders. Ron was going to fish a two nymph rig and I chose to start with an olive bugger.
The first thing we noticed was that some of the rocks we had seen midstream yesterday were not visible today. It still looked fisheable to us but obviously the joys of tailwater fishing and random generation followed me from home as well. We began wading out into the swift water and soon realized that the bottom of this river was nothing like our White River tailwaters , this place had very slick shelf rock that would drop you on your ass and dropoffs that would send you in over your waders in one wrong step.
The water steadily grew dirtier as we carefully worked our way along the shore , knowing better than to push our luck with rising water on a strange river. We stuck it out and fished what we could until the sun was down and our fingers were frozen stiff. Neither of us had so much as a bite during our first foray into Georgia waters. We knew they were there , we'd been told so and even seen the pictures on the wall in the flyshop. The classic new river skunking , it wasn't my first experience with this phenomenon unfortunately. On the drive back to our hotel (made three times as long as the drive here due to the horrendous Atlanta traffic!) we discussed our plans for the next assault and where we wanted to try next. As a side note I'm not sure the employees of the Hilton Garden Inn had ever seen a guest stroll through their lobby dripping wet and carrying flyrods and wet waders and boots , we got a few strange looks to say the least!
As it turned out we would only have about 60 minutes of light after class on Wednesday which would only allow us about 35 minutes to fish. We chose to check out a new section of river instead of heading to the same spot and trying to squeeze in some time on the water. It was a good choice as the water levels were still high and the color a little dirty. The new spot required about a 1/2 mile hike to get to the river but looked even better than the first days choice.
We'd been told that the following day we should get out of class a little early so we figured out where we wanted to start and called it a day as the sun was setting over the hills.
Just as promised the instructor let us out of class around 2:30pm , giving us 3 1/2 hours to spend on the river. We were flying out the next day so this was our last shot at catching a few Georgia trout and we were anxious to get started. Arriving at the river we both looked at each other and smiled ,the water looked clear and a good 2 feet lower than the previous two evenings.
Maybe just maybe we had a chance. Still using the same setups as the first day Ron walked downstream to a long riffle while I chose the tailout of the pool above it.
It only took two casts before I was tight to our first fish , a small rainbow, nothing to get excited about most of the time but for some reason on a strange river that first fish always seems special.
It didn't take long before we were both hooking up on small rainbows with regularity , Ron had switched over to a woolly bugger as well and the fish just couldn't resist.
We stood there in a cold rain catching fish after fish without another soul in sight. The only company we encountered was a group of canada geese playing around and two kayakers floating by headed for the park we had fished yesterday.
We fished until we couldn't see to tie another fly on and figured that we were pushing the no fishing after dark regulation on this river.
I don't normally count fish but after getting skunked the night before for some reason I kept tally, 40 rainbows and 2 browns , nothing of any size but just an incredible evening of catching.
Ron did equally well, landing 16 bows and losing a nice brown right at his feet. It was a great way to finish off the trip and made dragging the extra baggage along for fishing gear well worth it. The hike back to the car was filled with talk of the great fishing we had just seen and how maybe a return trip might be in order for that advanced class...maybe a nice spring class with Blue Wing Olive hatches.
Monday, December 6, 2010
With the week off work and decent weather predicted I decided to head South to spend a few days on one of my favorite Ozark rivers , the Current.
Forecasters were predicting cold nights in the lower 20's with temps warming up into the mid 40's during the day, perfect fishing weather right? I hit the road early Wednesday morning with plans to camp a couple nights along the river and be headed home Friday evening just as the weekend boys started arriving. Pulled into Montauk State Park before 10:00am on Wednesday and grabbed the very last campsite in the loop, this put me within a 100 yard walk of the beginning of the Blue Ribbon trout water.
I'm not sure how many campsites are in the park (I'd guess 450) but I was the only camper in the entire place for both of the nights I stayed.
Who says winters not a great time to camp?? You just need a big ass fire every night and a heater for the tent , warmth is highly overrated anyway.
The first day it was closing in on noon when Joe and I hit the water.
I love to throw streamers on this river and seeing as I hadn't been here in a while I was itching to do some stripping. I spent several evenings before the trip tying up size 4 wooly buggers in various colors so I started off with one of those in olive.
It didn't take very long to hook up with a healthy Current River bow.
I worked my way downstream from the wire to well below the rock garden, throwing streamers the entire time. Good numbers of rainbows and several decent browns were landed on my first stretch of water so I was completely stoked for the weekend.
By the time I checked my watch it was already 3:00pm and time to turn and fish our way back. I switched up fly colors and worked my way back, catching several more fish before arriving back at the wire just as the sun was setting behind the hills.
Dinner was a quick bowl of hot soup and some homemade bread. After sitting around the fire for a while the dog was getting cold so we retired to the tent where I tied a few flys while watching one of the "Trout Bum Diaries" movies.
The second morning dawned cloudy and cold with a heavy frost on everything in site. A quick breakfast in the heated tent and then it was into a pair of waders for the rest of the day.
I decided to drive down river to Baptist Access and spend the morning working my way downstream from there. After not seeing another soul on the river yesterday it wasn't any surprise to find an empty parking lot. I put on another color variation of bugger and started fishing right at the access. Within several strips of my first cast I was hooked up with one of many bows that would take the yellow and white bugger pattern that morning.
It ended up being my top producing fly for both rainbows and browns this trip. It was great to fish as well because of it's visibility in the slightly colored water , it allowed me to keep my eye on the fly 90% of the time which definitely resulted in more hookups. More than once I watched a fish come out from behind a rock and chase the fly but stop short , many times if I paused the fly and then stripped quickly it was more than the fish could take and it would take the fly.
This is streamer fishing at it's best and I was having a ball. Most fish caught were average size bows but every once in a while you'd see that buttery yellow flash and know that you were tight to another Current River brown.
I fished below Baptist all morning and then ate a quick sandwich at the truck before hitting the upstream section for a few hours in the afternoon. Same story here, rainbows mixed in with the occasional brown all falling to a quickly stripped streamer pattern.
I did encounter my first fisherman on the river late Thursday afternoon just above Baptist, we visited for a few minutes and discovered that we both had the same idea of throwing streamers in the slightly high and off colored water. I wished him success and we parted ways with a friendly good-bye, each secretly hoping that we wouldn't encounter each other again on the water.
We got back to camp just before dark, tired...a little chilled from the long day and ready for some rest. One more day of fishing left and I just hoped it was as good as the first two.
The last day dawned clear and was probably the coldest morning of all. Everything had a heavy frost covering and a dense fog was rolling off the water.
This made it all the more tough to get motivated and crawl out of the heated tent. Even so, Joe and I were on the water by 7:30am ready to hit it again.
I decided to fish below the wire again in the morning and then after packing up camp at lunch finish out the day somewhere else.
By this stage of the trip I only needed one flybox (the streamer box) in my arsenal, I hadn't put on an indicator or nymph all weekend and saw no need to start now.
We worked our way down past the Rock Garden again with just about the same results as the first day, minus the browns.
The bows just couldn't resist that yellow/white bugger pattern stripped in front of their noses. I finally saw my second fisherman as well on my way back upstream, we were headed in opposite directions and a quick nod in passing was the last I saw of him. That's pretty much what I had hoped for, two other fishermen seen on the water in three days. Gotta love this mid-week winter fishing.
We got back at camp just about lunch time so after a quick bite I packed up camp and then headed back to Tan Vat to finish off the day. The weather was beautiful and the rainbows were cooperating nicely so it was extremely hard to make myself call it an afternoon. It was one of those times when every fish becomes the "just one more" fish, and 15 more minutes turns into another hour.
Finally, I knew we had to quit and make the long drive back to KC. This river seldom dissapoints and it definitely didn't this trip. Lots of bows and 8 or 10 browns over the three day trip was more than I could have hoped for.
Here's to a warm, dry winter and several more of these type trips before spring arrives and brings with it the onslaught of fair weather fishermen. Until next time.....