Friday, February 5, 2016

Texas Calling

Today's a packing day for Nathaniel and me because tomorrow, right after Asher's Little League tryouts, we point the Expedition toward Texas and begin the long drive. We'll spend a week or so in the Lone Star State, fishing for everything from speckled trout to rainbow trout. (Yep. They have those in Texas.) Rough path is slated, but we'll fill in most details as we go.

I've enjoyed some really good fishing in Texas, including time on acclaimed lakes like Falcon, Amistad and Fork and wading out of Port Mansfield. It's been a few years since I've been there, though, and next week plans don't include any places I've fished before, so I'm really looking forward to getting back down there and to discovering new stuff.

Better get to packing, I suppose!


Thursday, February 4, 2016

FLW Tour Begins This Morning

It's a different perspective for me as the FLW Tour launches a new season this morning at Lake Okeechobee. My work this year is much less linked with FLW (or BASS) than it has been in a long time, but my personal interest is at least as high as ever. I've worked with so many of the anglers on this year's tour, including a couple of tour rookies, that I'm eager to see how everything goes for many different pros.

Interest-wise, it doesn't hurt that the season again starts at Okeechobee. That means there should be some bulging bags and maybe a few truly special fish brought to the scales this afternoon. Of course, big and small bags alike are the beginnings of season-long story lines, which I always enjoy following.

I won't be able to watch the live weigh-in or track much action on social media. However, if your schedule allows doing so, I'd absolutely recommend the flwfishing Twitter and Instagram feeds. They do a fabulous job of delivering the action to your computer or phone, wherever you happen to be. I certainly will take time this evening to look through the standings and read some of the coverage from the day.

I suppose they're about two hours from taking off. Unfathomable amount of nervous energy beside the lake right now!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Arkansas Trout Awaiting!

Long drive today, but that's OK. Arkansas' White & Norfork rivers are at the other end, and three days on these fabulous trout river easily warrant a 24-hour roundtrip drive. Last I heard the White was running hard and the big browns were biting.

Big browns are the primary targets, in my mind anyway, but last year about this time I fished the Norfork with Donald Cranor (the guide who is leading the charge), and we managed a Norfork slam, catching browns, rainbows, brook trout and cutthroats in a single day. The catch included several browns like the one Donald is holding in the photo above, and we caught them all on Rebel Tracdown Ghost Minnows.

Watch the Rebel Lures Facebook page and for reports, photos and more.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Minimalist Trout Slam

You could say that Asher and I were very efficient yesterday. We managed a "slam" of the trout species that are normally found in Southern Appalachian waters (brook, brown, rainbow) with our first three fish of the day. Unfortunately, my snake-like rainbow trout that completed the slam was also our final fish of the day. Yep. Three fish total. One brown trout. One brook trout. One rainbow trout.

My favorite of yesterday's catches was the first fish of the day, because with it, Asher continued an interesting streak. He and I have fished the lower national park portion of Deep Creek yesterday for the third time. Each time, we've taken the short spur trail to Indian Creek Falls, and each time Asher has caught a fish from the big pool at the base of the waterfall. The first time it was a beautifully marked rainbow. The most other times (yesterday and last week), he caught a nicely marked brown trout. All the fish in that area are wild.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Smokies Trout Run

Asher and I made a run for the higher hills a couple of days ago to see if the trout wanted to play. To our delight, the wild fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park seem to be digging this winter's high water, and they were pretty active. We didn't catch oodles of fish, but be we had a nice amount of activity and caught some really pretty wild brown trout.

Naturally, the big one got away. I hooked a surprisingly big rainbow in park waters and had it on the surface and within a few inches of hand's reach when the hook came free. It was a rouge-banded, 15- or 16-inch, thick bodied male that even had somewhat of a hook jaw.

Because of a mix of photos I wanted to get, it was somewhat of a sampler day. We briefly hit a couple of sections of the Tuckasegee River, including a new delayed harvest stretch I hadn't looked at yet, and two different streams in the national park. That kept us from fishing anywhere as long as would have been ideal, but at least we were fishing.

I say "we" caught fish, but in truth Asher did most of the catching. I caught one fish, which took a Rebel Hellgrammite. Asher caught all his fish on a Rebel Tracdown Ghost Minnow. All our lures were rigged with single barbless hooks.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Less Traveled Waters

I admit that I tend to gravitate toward delayed harvest trout waters this time of year. Because of heavy stockings and the catch-and-release requirement, the fish are normally there, and sections of several rivers are sufficiently familiar that it's easy to set a plan. I'm far from alone in that, though, and those same waters get a lot of attention.

Yesterday Asher and decided to fish well upstream of the delayed harvest section of the Chattooga River, mostly because the river was still quite high from this winter's rains, and I felt like the character of the upstream section was better suited for wading along the edges. It's also a section that holds a lot of brown trout that are typically tough to catch, and I thought that high flows on a dark January day might make the browns a little feistier than normal.

Both things turned out to be true, which of course is a good thing, but an added benefit was that we never saw anyone else in the river. Once pair of backpacking anglers were unloading their car when we were, and we saw their campsite and passed them on the trail once. We also greeted one solo angler who was gearing up as we walked from the car to the river. No one in the river, though, and we worked about a mile upstream and fished for probably six hours.

I guess I can't say this for certain because I wasn't there, but I'll bet it wasn't that way in the DH section, even with the high flows. I wasn't really thinking about getting away from crowds when I picked our spots, but I have to say that it was refreshing, and I'm going to be more intentional about thinking about some of those "other waters" for future cool-season outings.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Trout Gear Loaded

Rain scheduled to come in tomorrow night suggests that tomorrow day will offer the closest thing we'll have to settled trout streams for several more days. The forecast also calls for warmer temperatures than we've had for a few days and plenty of cloud cover. All those conditions suggest tomorrow as a good day to chase trout, so that's what Asher and I intend to do.

Whether we'll catch 'em,.. well, we'll see. We're going to try,though. In fact the rods, reels, waders and tackle boxes are already in the car and the warm clothes are piled up on a table.

Local rivers are still fairly feisty from all of winter's rain, so our plan is to begin in a stretch of river where brown trout sometimes grow shoulders and too see if they are in ambush mode, given the high-water conditions.

If the river is too high for Asher and me to wade comfortably or if the trout don't cooperate, we might try a smaller stream or even a small lake. That's getting ahead of things, though. The hope is that Plan A work well and there's no need for a Plan B!