Saturday, August 18, 2012

Preparing for the Mighty Musky

Musky fly fishing.  Chasing one of the largest freshwater predators in the world. I have no personal experience but from what I've read it sounds like any trophy fly fishing - lots of mundane time spent casting and searching interrupted by a moment of chaotic fury.  My kind of fishing super challenging but equally rewarding.

There are a few lakes in my area and some rivers, which contain these mighty beasts and I plan to introduce myself soon.  Time to hit the vice.  If you search muskie (musky) flies, streamers etc., you will find a bunch of examples of gaudy streamers to lure this mighty esox.  The guys at musky country outfitters and eastern trophies have some great, creative examples.  But like most of my streamer tying I decided to start with what the gear guys use.  I saw the lure on top in an in-fisherman magazine issue dedicated to pike and muskie and found the picture on the internet.  Everything I've read has suggested that orange and orange/black are key colors when pursuing muskie, so why not start there.

The other picture is my initial prototype fly version.  Two perfect bend 3/0 hooks lashed together with wire, orange grizzly hackle tail, marabou body, and arctic-fox head to push water.  Oh, and plenty of holographic flashabou for good measure.  I took it for a swim in the bath and I was satisfied but there is still room for improvement.

Hopefully I will stick this or its progeny in some toothy critters soon!

Tight Lines.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Kool Aid and Fly Tying

This is yet another example of why the internet is a great thing for fly tying.  I consider myself to be on the creative side of the fence but I would have never thought of the project that gave rise to the picture to the right.

I had a low grade cape standard grizzly rooster (white and black).  As with many people these days, I am cautiously spending my dollars and colorful capes for streamers and intruders etc., while desirable, are certainly not in the budget.  So what is a fly tyer to do?  Get on the internet and stand on the shoulders of giants.  Kool-aid.  Yep, buy a box of colors (unsweetened!) and following the directions on the links provided.

Another cost conscience tip, take a razor and start slicing up the cape into smaller squares.  Doing so will allow you to get a number of colors from one cape.  For example, the picture represents about 1/3 of the original cape. The top clump of feathers is attached to a 1inch X 1inch square.  So you can imagine the amount of colors you can get from one cape.  Also, the smaller pieces seem to allow the individual feathers to absorb more color.  So, by cutting first you end up with more variety and probably a better product.

I have to say the results are promising.  While the cape doesn't seem as bold as the store bought products, it is definitely orange and that is what I was looking for.  There is plenty of room for improvement and experimentation, which will be a lot of fun.

So, if you're looking for a unique colored feather or you're keeping the nickels and dimes close to the vest, then stop by your local grocery store, grab some kool-ai and have at it.

Tight lines.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thinking About Restoration

I've been thinking about restoration lately.  Such thoughts stemmed from some newly acquired concerns. Those concerns are for smallmouth bass in a lake that is ingrained in my family's culture and not only from fishing but by time and memory.  The lake's smallmouth grow slow but large. They are as strong, wild and as beautiful as the lake they call home.  At one time no one really paid attention to these water-dwelling residents. For instance, in prime season, there would be not but a few boats fishing for bass, usually in simple, small bass boats and most of the time catch and release (or I hoped so).  Indeed, I was clued into this bass fishery from my dock by observing a rickety old bass boat work the shallows for a couple years. The fisherman seemed focused, simple, and deliberate - a way which could only come from being dialed into a fishing pattern.  One day I got my dad in a canoe and we battled wind, wave and distance and came to find we had been sitting on a lake which held a heck of a bass fishery. 

Fast forward through time and many great memories to find the DNR constructed a new boat ramp allowing famous bass television show hosts and 250 HP motors powering souped up "glitter boats" to invade.  Worse yet, My dad and I showed the fishery to a cousin. Now he brings his bass buddies up and have a few days of fish fry every year.  The horror! The horror! These thoughts have kept me up at night. Such a reaction might seem silly, even ridiculous, and, frankly it probably is, but I grew up as a fisherman pursuing these bass and I grew up emotionally, dare I say spiritually, connected to this lake.  I can say, albeit cautiously, that the lake, while not a part of my family, is akin to a characteristic trait just as blue eyes or curly hair. So you can say I have a relationship with this fishery, I've studied it, even swam with the bass and taken a great deal of effort to watch out for every fish I've come across.  I've had a smallmouth hunt crayfish beside me, snatching the little crustaceans as I shuffled stones on the bottom.  That's a personal connection that few fisherman can say they've shared with their beloved fisheries.  Now, the introduction of nonnative, invasive fisherman could potentially soil the very waters and fish I hold so dear. 

With that in mind, I have come to find my neighbor is both a fly fisherman and avid conservationist.  Indeed he was once the president of the local TU chapter.  After speaking with him briefly, the man is clearly dialed in to the conservation issues the great lakes fisheries face and I'm looking forward to getting involved and lend a helping hand.  He is part of a restoration project that is attempting to restore the small creeks here in northern Illinois one ravine at a time.  The project has a blog which I have included to my list and is the following:

Its amazing what a little elbow grease can do.

Tight Lines.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fishing Reports

A quick pre-work report.  Had a chance to fish up in Michigan a few weeks ago.  Typically, the lake I fish up north is cold and deep but not this year.  While of course the depth remained the same, the surface temperatures were approaching 80 degrees.  As a caveat, my Dad and I have only recently started using thermometers but we have a sense by touch that the water was warmer than usual.  Likewise, the bass were not in their typical pattern and we struggled to find fish.  Eventually we did tighten up on a few but we have certainly not figured out the warm-water pattern on this lake.

That's what I love about fishing, even a lake, a fishery, that is so familiar is always changing always new.

Also, got up to the Milwaukee twice after being inspired by a fellow blogger.  Stayed within the city limits both times.  First trip was a total success, caught 17 smallmouth, a crappie and hooked but lost a nice pike (darn teeth).  It was a riot and it was easy.  Since it was my first summer trip on the Milwaukee I was kicking myself for not having made the trip before.  However, I must have had a case of beginners luck because the second trip was much tougher.  The water had rose and was discolored.  The fish had moved or were not hungry. Either way my buddy Kelley and I each got one but had to throw the box trying to catch them. So much for easy fishing.  Just another bipolar river to explore.

Nevertheless, we are planning to dial in and picked up a pair a float tubes to assist covering water.

Hopefully, my next report will reflect the first trip rather than the second and I need to start remembering my camera.

Tight Lines.