As we cruise through September and October, fly fishing activities are quieter, and the fly tying bench beckons once again.
While there will be a lot more hours on local waters til the end of the fishing season, I find myself contemplating the lessons of the fast-disappearing 2012. As well you might.
2012 for Central Oregon and the Northwestern US states was a compressed season. High snowpacks and a late arriving spring made for difficult conditions out of the gate. Then a spurt of fast activity, that was followed by a brutally hot summer.
The local highlight was the return of trophy fishing for the Cranebows at Crane Prairie Reservoir. Last year was a total bust, by all accounts, but this year, if you hit it right, some real nice specimens were ready and waiting. If timing, location and fly pattern were conjunct – the action could be glorious. Mike T. a good friend and fishing companion knocked ’em one late August outing, with a 4, 5, and 10-pounder to the net, and a couple of other big bruisers that won their contests.
East Lake has also fished nicely, with big numbers, and sometimes bigger fish than the norm. This is a lake where you can catch rainbows, browns, kokanee, and Atlantic salmon – all in the same day, mostly on dry flies.
I am making the conversion from long distance travel and fishing to multiple day stays at the local fisheries. (I don’t trust the future of gasoline prices!)
Restoration of our antique Dodge camper van has been an ongoing joy, and so far 22 nights of fly-fishing van camping are on the log. We are already having freeze warnings locally, so the van will provide warmth and shelter for the fall outings.
Reflecting on the successful fly patterns this season, a couple of points stand out. One was that for a couple of group outings, the best producing flies were my original fly patterns: Kick-Ass ant, Peach Bunny, and an unnamed ostrich herl mayfly cripple pattern. My variation of a pattern by local flyman Larry Godfrey, which we call Larry’s Lizard, was by far the best producing subsurface largemouth bass fly for Davis Lake. Just deadly!
But, as ever, new flies from other sources knocked on the door. Hackle Stackers, Brian Chan’s Red Butt chironomid pupa, an articulated mini-leech from J. Jeffrey Sirbu in Colorado, a anti-static bag midge pupa from Steve A. and a similar offering from Walt C. Mike T’s Foxy Lady damsel nymph scored big for him at Crane Prairie.
Fly “Profiles” that scored significantly, as in eye-opening success, were the articulated flies, and for Crane Prairie – the inclusion of red in the pattern. The importance of using materials that move – was repeatedly reinforced.
For gear, I am in love with the Sea Eagle FPB (frameless pontoon boat), which is now in its second season. (no commercial affiliation) This has proved a very seaworthy craft for stillwater flyfishing. It’s a really tough bugger, except for the oarlock design, which you have to baby, and that one weakness keeps me from recommending it for river use. The main advantages are the boat has a marine board HDPE floor, which enables you to stand for casting. (I am 5’7″, so take that into consideration. Regardless, it’s a very stable craft.) There is a swivel seat, and your legs are never dangling in the water. Having a smooth bottom with no legs below means one stroke of the oars will take you a long way, plus you have a very shallow draft and can fight through weeds, beach in the shallows, and slug your way through cattails when necessary.
The craft has a motor mount, and wow, did I discover how much range I have with a 30lb.-thrust Minn Kota trolling motor and a 100 amp hour deep cycle battery! Would you believe 7-1/2 miles of motoring on one battery charge? I’ve done this more than once, so it’s no accident. Slow, but you do get there and (more important) back. Next year, I am adding a fishfinder with downimaging (and traditional sonar) and the valuable feature of GPS. Watch out below!
At the moment, a lot of thought and preliminary prep are going into the details for my all-day Saturday fly tying workshop in Bend, December 8th. This will be a really fruitful day for participants. The workshop will be announced and open for enrollment Oct. 1st. More details to come soon.
We are buried right now in business work and acting like squirrels getting ready for the winter as far as house remodel and van restoration go.
But, DEFINITELY POWERING UP THE FLY FOUNDRY SITE for the coming fall through early spring. A slew of new articles in the to-do file, several in various stages of progress. Traffic to the site has remained healthy and stable throughout the summer, which is a good sign. Thank you for coming back.
A new infusion of content will continue to add value to the Fly Foundry site. Also trying hard to open the Fly Foundry outlet store this fall.
My goal has always been to have a worthwhile online reference and “classroom” situation here by the end of the second year. We celebrate the first birthday in March of next year, so much to come.
“Half of them think things will never work out. The other half believe in magic.”
– from the film, Beginners.