Archive for June, 2012

Just got done volunteering for a kids fishing tournament. There were about 200 to 250 people out fishing in this tournament. The goal was to catch as many white perch as possible; which are considered an invasive species here in Nebraska. They have overrun a whole bunch of our Salt Valley Lakes around Lincoln. The tournament was a way to take a bite out of their population; and to get kids interested in fishing.

After we got all the kids signed in, I got to help count fish. Seeing how excited the kids were to turn in their fish was a blast. While most little kids are not ready to get started fly fishing, getting them interested in fishing is a great start. I have never helped with a youth fishing event before, but I can see how this is a great experience to keep kids fishing. I want to make sure there are plenty of lakes and streams full of fish for the rest of my life and beyond; passing on the sport is the best way to ensure that there will always be a fishing hole around the corner.

Whats the most important thing about getting kids (or anyone) interested in fishing? Actually catching fish… and white perch are great for that. They are easily caught on a worm and bobber.

Toward the end of the tournament, the kids turned in their catches and won a whole bunch of prizes. As they turned in their fish to be counted, I had a whole crowd of kids lined up to see the bucket of fish. I had several dozen who wanted to touch them and see their fins. I also got to teach a bunch of kids (and a few adults) the differences between white perch, and some drum that had been turned in as well.

Since the fish are invasive, part of the goal was to help get some of these fish out of the lake. What better way to do that then a fish fry? While white perch make for pretty small fillets, they do make some pretty good fish chips.

All told, about 700 white perch were harvested and fried up. A lot of fun and a good way to spend the day. Thanks to Randy and the rest of the Nebraska Fish and Game Association (www.nefga.org) for putting on the tournament and letting me come volunteer!

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This is for whoever searched Bing for “Getting Started Sportfishing” today, and clicked on my blog…

While you can spend hundreds of dollars on a fly rod, this post is to show that a first rod can be very affordable.

I got started on fly fishing 2 summers ago after watching a guy fish next to me at Holmes Lake with a fly rod and being mesmerized. It took a little convincing, but I convinced my wife to let me spend some money and buy one. I didn’t have the several hundred dollars necessary to buy a nice rod, and not knowing if I would like or even be able to fly fish, I decided on an entry level rod. I decided on this… mostly because it was the cheapest rod that Cabela’s Kearney store sold.

This is the Cabela’s Cahill Fly Rod Combo. It came with the rod, reel, backing, fly line, and leader. This combo and a box of trout flies cost me around $75.

Cabela’s Page for this combo

I have been impressed with this rod since the day it came out of it’s box. It was an excellent first fly rod. I bought a 9 foot, 8 weight rod on the advice of a salesmen (who I would later realize knew nothing about fly fishing… that will be a later post), who recommended it would be good for bass fishing. In hindsight, I wish I would have gone with a 5 weight rod. A 5 weight is a better middle of the road rod… a good rod for panfish and small bass… which is what most beginners will be fishing for. I think a 5 weight is also a better weight to learn on since it feels like it casts a little easier for me. A 9 foot pole is a good first pole length for still water fly fishing since it helps keep your line higher in the air during your cast… and the razor sharp hook tied to the end of it that much further from your body!

I have never taken fly fishing lessons… I would recommend them as it would save you later having to fix faults in your casting… but after a failed first trip to Holmes Lake where I deposited about a third of my flies in the top of trees or snapped them off over the lake, I managed to get the thing to fly cast.

Now that I have worked out my cast, this rod has done well for it’s price. If you are considering getting started, this would be my recommendation. It’s low cost makes it low risk… if you hate fly fishing, you are not out a ton of money. It is a four piece rod, so it breaks down to a small size and stores easily. It casts well for it’s price and is a great beginning rod…

Now that I have been fly fishing for a couple year, I have moved on to a more expensive rod. If you find you like the sport, that is a good move. While this rod is a good beginner rod, I quickly desired a rod with better casting qualities and purchased up (although I still did not spend near what I could have still!)

Other then wanting a smoother casting rod after i became more experienced, the only bad thing I can say about this combo is the reel… the drag is pretty useless and has always seemed flimsy. I have since replaced the reel with Cabela’s next model up their price points.

However, my original 8 weight Cabela’s Cahill Fly Rod is still in my rotation… it comes on the float tube with me regularly for bass fishing. The 8 weight does a decent job casting large bass bugs. And since the heavier rods tend to have more of a back bone, I always have this rod with me whenever I am in “big fish water”.

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So I think it is time to talk about the trip that led to me starting this blog…

Last Saturday, I was home alone. My wife and daughter left to see family, and I had the whole day to myself. No commitments, nothing to do, nothing that needed to be worked on… except maybe my Master’s Thesis. But hey, how many days to you have to up and go fishing all day?

Back in February, I made a trip to Lake Ogallala, Nebraska and went trout fishing in moving water for the first time. It was a blast… and while the vast majority of my fishing is warm water fishing, I do have to say that the thought of trout fishing is exciting.

The closest “trout stream” to Lincoln is a little place called East Verdigre Creek. I had seen some people on a blog that I follow talk about it, and had nothing but good things to say. Verdigre Creek is a small stream about 3 feet wide. And best of all, it is located mostly on public lands.

10:00 AM Saturday morning, I decided that making the trip would be a good way to send my day.

Three hours later, and a 127 miles to the north-northwest of Lincoln, I pulled up to the state park the creek is located on. Here is what was waiting for me…

Beautiful right? That is where the enjoyment of the creek ended…

I started by trying to walk along the creek and sneaking up on any unsuspecting trout lurking along the edges… except the grass along the edges was shoulder to above my head high. So I decided to walk in closer to the creek… and then I would step in hidden wash outs and fall on my face. I did this about three or four times, and felt like a turtle trying to roll himself over each time.

Making an unholy racket, I decided that I might be better off to wade up the stream. The day was a muggy 95 degrees, but the water was flowing at a brisk 65-ish degrees. Before I starting walking, I took the above picture. Then as I went to put my camera way, I noticed that the pocket in my fishing vest where I keep my phone and wallet was completely empty…

I frantically starting looking everywhere for my wallet. After a few seconds, I spotted it… floating down stream in the creek. Several splashy steps later it is recovered. And any hope of finding a fish in this section of the creek is gone.

So I waded further upstream. I did manage to spot a couple of trout… as they darted between my legs after I about stepped on them in the weeds they were hiding in. After about an hour of falling in and out of the creek, I gave up.

Verdigre Creek is the tributary of Grove Lake, and being mentally prepared to get skunked on the creek, I decided to break out the float tube and fish the still water.

I fished for another three hours in the lake, had one fish throw a hook, and landed two… if you count this as one that is. It is a record for me as being the smallest bass on a fly I have ever landed. After throwing a different combination of Clouser Minnows and Woolly Buggers in a variety of colors, I did manage to land one more fish… a Bluegill. Now, bluegill are one of my favorite fly fishing targets. Call them easy to catch, call them small, call them whatever you want… I love fly fishing for bluegills. This particular fish had quite a look to it. Sharp lines, beautifully patterned scales… awesome. I love seeing how bluegill in different watersheds have slightly different appearances.

Okay, so this fish is no record setter on its size. But for me, size is not every thing. I measure my success in fishing in a simple formula: Fish Caught vs. Flies Lost. Based on this formula I guess I did “win” the day… 2 fish landed vs. 1 fly lost. But if we break it down based on the body of water I was on, the score would go: Grove Lake: 2 Fish vs. 0 Flies Lost, Verdigre Creek: 0 Fish vs. 1 Fly Lost. I guess you win some, and you lose some. And I only saw one other fish caught on the lake while I was there… so if no one is catching fish, they must not be biting, right?

Before I went home, I did try to fish a different section of the creek… one that had been recommended by a fellow fisherman on the lake as having more trout… but I found the same experience as the first attempt. Like the song goes, “you have to know when to hold ’em; know when to fold them”.

What I learned that day is that I am no small stream fisherman. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t regret the trip. But when I get the itch to go trout fishing again, I think I will head west to Ogallala again!

But if you are going to drive 3 hours to get practically skunked, you might was well do it with these surroundings:

Happy Fishing!

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So I was going to write a post about my crappy weekend that inspired the blog… I guess that can wait a couple days.

Today when I picked my daughter up from daycare, she told me that she saw “sh-ishes” that day. Since they don’t have an aquarium at the daycare, I was curious. Her daycare teacher informed me that they went on a walk that day, and while walking by the creek in the near by park, they saw a bunch of fishing swimming in shallow water. I assumed they were carp, but they went on to describe them as “alligator” fish… which kind of got me excited. They must have been Gar!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gar

I keep a list of fish that I intend to catch on the fly… it’s part of what keeps fly fishing fresh and interesting for me. Currently next on that list are Gar, Carp, Brown Trout, and Northern Pike. That should give you a good idea of where I am at in my fly fishing…

What got me excited is the fact that one of my current targets was less then two blocks from my daughters daycare, and less then four blocks from my office… almost close enough to go fishing on my lunch break…

Now, I don’t know what makes me crazy enough to want to catch a Gar at all, let alone on the fly. But I guess the lesson here is that no matter where you are, you will be surprised at how close fishing opportunities really are. I am not saying that everyone should go out Gar fishing; but fly fishing never ceases to amazing me… and this is a great example of why.

Of course I needed my 2 year old to give me the complete scouting report! We walked down to the creek to find the “sh-ishes”. Of course my daughter was excited to see them again too. They looked catchable to me!

Look close, they’re in there!

There was a whole school of them a little bit further up the channel (in a part that didn’t look like a storm culvert).

Of course my daughter was excited to see them again; “Sh-ishes! Sh-ishes!” That’s my girl! How long before she can cast a fly?!

Now all I need to do is tie some of those nylon rope flies I have been reading about on the internet… now that I have a “honey hole”! I guarantee you I will be the only fly fisherman in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska! At least the only one actually standing in downtown Lincoln and actively fishing!

Happy fishing!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gar

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So I have been thinking about starting a fly fishing blog for a while now… since the fishing was crummy this weekend, it gave me a chance to start it!

I wanted to start this because I follow a few fly fishing blogs and magazines, but they tend to focus on mountain fly fishing for trout, or salt water fly fishing in the tropics. While these are all well and good; I live in Nebraska… which is close to neither. Nor do I have the financial capability to make numerous trips to either destination.

I wanted to start a blog about the type of fly fishing that I do… warm water fly fishing on the great plains. The types of fishing that I do I think are common for a lot of people. You have a few hours to get out and fish here and there. Most fishing trips are impromptu trips to the local lake… with maybe the occasional planned trip to a destination. I hope this blog fills that kind of niche.

Now I am not an expert on fly fishing… or even fishing in general. I would put myself squarely in the intermediate range. But I enjoy it. And I have passion for it. And hopefully people can learn something from it too.

Fly Fishing seems to have an aura about it… people think that you have to have something magical to do it. Well… they are partiality right. There is something magical about doing it… but anyone can learn to do it. In fact it is really easy to learn. Heck, if I can do it anyone can.

Another common belief about fly fishing is that it is incredibly expensive. Also, only partially true. Just like golf, it can be as expensive as you want it to be. Believe me, I don’t have the kind of money to spend on the sport as I would like to (although I am sure my wife is convinced that I spendway more on it then I should!)

Is fly fishing better then more common (relative to where I live) forms of fishing??? That depends on the situation, but probably no. But for me it is much more fun. And it gets me outside… and something I can pass down to my daughter. And isn’t that what life is all about?

Plus, writing about fly fishing gives me a chance to actually use the creative writing degree I picked up in college!

Now, why did I have the time to start this blog??? This is my weekend in a nutshell:

This is my journey into the addiction that is fly fishing. Hope you enjoy the ride as much as I do!

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