Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing’

Flies Over Nebraska is proud to announce the completion of a successful “hit”…

The hitlist has been appropriately updated.

I’ve been wanting to blog about why fly fishing is special and comforting to me… but the fishing the last few days has been way too good!

In an attempt to keep the awesome momentum from Friday’s catfish bonanza going, I decided to target a fish on the my hitlist. Along the interstate in central Nebraska lays one of the state’s best kept secrets; a series small lakes that are at almost every single exit on I-80 as it winds along the Platte River. They were created as part of the construction of road… fill dirt was needed to create the overpasses, so large holes where dug next to the overpasses. Due to the high water table in the Platte River Valley, the holes eventually filled in with water. The state stocked them with a variety of different fish and now we have a smorgasbord of awesome little fishing lakes every 10-15 miles through the central part of the state. Crystal clear water, incrediblely low fishing pressure, and you can literally put a line in the water within seconds of getting off the interstate. Talk about hiding in plain sight.

And all of you out-of-state travelers think there is nothing to do or see in Nebraska…

The water was so clear, that when I put my float tube in, I attracted the attention of a school of panfish who came right up to feet trying to figure just what had plopped into their home…

I have fished a few of these lakes over the last two years of fly fishing. But today I went to one I had driven by my whole life, but never took the time to stop at: War Axe State Recreation Area, near Shelton, Nebraska. I knew there were smallmouth bass in the lake, but I had always gone to the other lakes in search of their larger cousin, the largemouth bass.

I discovered what a mistake that has always been…

I tried a few different flies and presentations out, but it didn’t take me long to officially cross smallmouth bass off my list.

Okay… so admittedly not a record breaker. But the “hit” was complete. It’s a smallmouth bass legally hooked on the fly… even though “smallmouth” might be the under statement of the year…

The “hit” may have been completed, but I was just warming up…

Number 2:

Number 2 was a fighter. He hit strong, pulled line right out of my hand despite his small size, and leaped 12 inches out of the water to throw the fly.

Number 3:

No one told me these were flying fish. Number 3 went airborne multiple times.

Number 4:

Back to the awesome!

Then, the best of the day hit last. Number 5:

These fish might be a little smaller then their more famous cousins, but they sure put up a hell of a fight. Number 5 here went airborne twice, spent a lot of time at the bottom of the lake, and became officially the second fish that I have ever “put on the reel”. At 14 inches, he still pulled line off my reel and got the drag clicking, just like my catfish two nights ago.

These guys are fighters. They might not be the prettiest fish in the lake. But they are fighters.

I would still say my favorite fish is the rainbow trout. Nothing matches their beauty in my mind…

But to thanks today, I have a new favorite species to actually fish for. Smallmouths are the best fish-for-fish fighters I have caught yet.

If you are traveling down I-80 in central Nebraska, look to the north. If you see a yellow “dingy” looking boat in the lake, it will probably be me chasing the smallmouths…

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The weekend is coming… that means lots of time to hit the water!

It also means that I need time to fill the fly boxes! I usually take 5 different fly boxes with me to the lake. They are quasi-arrange based on the type of fish they are intended for and by which fly rod would cast them best; the 3wt, 5wt, or 8wt rod.

Since there are so many different situations that I could find myself in on Nebraska waters, I normally have between 300-400 flies with me on a trip. Excessive? Yes. But it does make for some pretty fly boxes. One of my immediate goals is to catch a Master Angler Bluegill (10 inches), Crappie (15 inches), or Largemouth Bass (20 inches) on a fly. And you never know what it will take to get on of these monsters to bite…

The variety of flies used is a big attraction to the sport for me. Then you start making them yourself… and eventually you end up with boxes full of your own flies.

Fly fishing is about observation; and taking the little details you observe to make the proper fly selection and presentation at exactly the right moment. Fly fishing has taught me to slow down, look around, and appreciate exactly how amazing everything little detail in life is… right down to the tiny flies crammed into a box…

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The drought ridden perennial flower is of course the most cunning, elusive, and dangerous of all the fly fishing targets in my backyard…

Who says you even need water to fly fish?

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“The solution to any problem–work, love, money, whatever–is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.” ~John Gierach, Standing in a River Waving a Stick

Little E and I got out of the house this morning and spent a little time at Holmes Lake. I brought the fly rod out with me and tried to doing a little fishing as she played in the sand. Tried being the key word… I only got about 10 or so casts in before Little E demanded that she “do it”. After a couple of times of her driving my rod tip into the water, I decided that it was time to move on to the jungle gym and other 2 year old appropriate activities. Who knew that a two year old lacks the coordination, precise timing, and patience that casting a fly line from 9 foot pole requires?

Any time on the water is good time. Especially if I can share it with Little E… even if it was only a few minutes. To be honest, I got more casts in then I thought I would…

Starting this blog has given me the opportunity to start to realize exactly what it is that drew me to fly fishing. By trying to write about fly fishing, I have had lots of thoughts pass through my mind. About why I started, why I keep doing it, why I am hopelessly addicted to it.

When I started, I thought I would write all about the actual fly fishing… the technical details, what the fish are biting on, what works and what doesn’t, etc. But that is not my voice. You see, I am probably best classified as an “intermediate” fly fisherman. I’m good but not great; I still have lots to learn. If I tried to write about the technical aspects, I would fail miserably… because I am still learning them myself. The process of learning the sport could be compelling subject to write about, and I probably will; but if you are looking for anything more then how to get started in the sport, you are in the wrong place. There are plenty of good “how-to-fly-fish” blogs on the internet, many of which I follow.

What I have recently realized while on the water is that the art of fly fishing mirrors my personality… it’s artistic, a little bit eccentric, complex, beautiful, simplistic, and difficult all at the same time… It’s best performed in solitude; yet in doing so it attracts the attention anyone who sees it. It requires observation, patience, contemplation, constant attention, mental toughness, stealth, and the ability to spring into action at exactly the right moment.

For me it is also an escape…

I have not had the easiest of lives. My life is great now… I have a loving wife, beautiful daughter, great career, and a supportive family. But it was not always like that. I have had to overcome some tough challenges in my life… the scars from which I still live with to this day… and continue to challenge me…

Fly fishing gives me the chance to escape from everything… to clear my mind… to become one with nature… to feel like an alpha predator and to realize how small I am compared to existence all at once…

Fly fishing is magical, and it does have an aura about it that is challenging and comforting at the same time. It gives me incredible insights into my life and experiences… and has an uncanny ability to highlight the highs, and the lows, of my life…

The reason why I was drawn to creative writing in college was that I discovered writing has powerful ability to act as a release… a pressure release value for my emotion. Fly fishing gives me the ability to capture those emotions; and over the last month, I have discovered this blog has been great way to release them.

Until I started this blog, I had written almost nothing in the last three years. Someday I would like to write my memoirs. And his blog is empowering me to write again. Hopefully it will not be too long before I can put a pen to paper and start to document all the ways in which I “Fly Over Nebraska”… How fly fishing helps me do it… and everything in between. That is what I want this blog to be about.

I wish I would have known about the John Gierach quote at the top of the post sooner… He is spot on… and since I have only been fly fishing for two years, I have a lot of catching up to do!

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Finally! Instead of 105 degrees, it was a much nicer 85 tonight! A chance to get on the water! The score?

Pawnee Lake: 2 flies – Me: 20+ Fish

Now, most of those fish were White Perch… and catching White Perch is no challenge in Pawnee Lake.

Even though it wasn’t a challenge, it was nice to be false casting over the water… and having a tight line at the end of my pole…

Who cares if it wasn’t a challenge. It was fishing. And it was awesome.

It also gave me some time to think about the voice that I would like to take with this blog. And I have some ideas with where I would like to go with it.

After the sun went down, I did manage to catch one game fish. I pulled a White Crappie up right before I came home.

I guess it pays off to keep pressing through the perch. Eventually a nice fish will come up.

Funny, I could say the same thing about writing… keep writing and a gem will arise eventually.

Right? Right???

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