Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fishing Tradition

When I was a boy I took many fishing trips with my dad to various places including the Eastern Sierra mountains in California, the mountainous regions of Arizona, Utah, and many other places. My son's first fishing trip was on the Provo River in Utah when he was probably around 10 months old or so. I went up to the river to just look but a hatch of blue wing olives turned it into a fishing trip. I got him out of the car seat and strapped him to my chest and carefully made my way down to the river's edge. I was able to land a nice brown trout within a few minutes which was good because he did not like being stationary and wanted out pretty quickly. The other night he "caught" his first fish. My wife and I were walking around a small pond and I carried my fly rod along to take a few casts. I was not expecting too much but after a half dozen casts I had a nice little largemouth on and I let Blake turn the reel while I held the rod. Without even telling him how to do it he started turning the reel and got the fish to shore. My wife took this picture with her cell phone hence the graininess.

Learning the Ropes

(Gar pics taken by FishnDave)
After returning from cold water paradise out west I planned a gar trip with fellow blogger FishnDave (I'll just call him Dave from now on). He had not tried for gar on the fly yet so we met up one morning to target the toothy critters. I walked down the trail straight toward the cove to launch my tube in order to save my legs. Dave had to wheel his kayak down to the dock. We started walking from our cars at the same time but due to his amazing peddle drive system on his kayak he still beat me over there before I even got in the water. With the unprecedented water year in Iowa the lake looked full like it had flooded again. The previous time Ted and I noticed a slight decline in the aggressiveness of the fish and simply didn't see nearly as many. It had flooded before that trip too and my theory was that the cooler water from the river had decreased the surface water temperatures. Regardless of what happened exactly this trip was going to be even trickier.
We paddled across a good chunk of the cove without seeing a gar which was really strange. My spirits were a little down so after awhile I decided to cut off my rope fly and throw some small panfish flies near the trees which produced a few bluegill fairly quickly. Dave stayed focused to the task at hand and scanned the water hunting for gar. He finally saw a fish and casted to it. The fish was persistent and Dave got it to really eat the fly after a few previous hits. Dave decided to wait for awhile before laying into the fish and let the rope fly really tangle up in its teeth. Ted and I had waited quite awhile for the set on the first few strikes of our first outing without much success. Possibly because we didn't have the end of the nylon rope singed. We seemed to have more luck just waiting a second or two then lifting the rod. After what seemed like an eternity for me Dave lifted the rod tip and was wrangling in a nice gar. After a good fight Dave netted the fish and I was so excited I let out a few hoots and hollers. He had to work for that fish and it payed off.

After watching Dave's method of waiting a good ten seconds before putting on the pressure I think I am sold on the delayed "rope-set" theory. He had the end of his fly singed too which probably helped. Ted and I had experienced so many hits/missed fish but Dave solidly "hooked" the first fish that took his fly. It has been a learning experience and there may be several ways to use the rope fly but next time I get a gar to take one I'm going to let him chew on it for awhile. Ted joined us after a few hours but also was having trouble seeing many gar. At one point I went up on the bridge and tried spotting fish but they simply were not there in the numbers I have seen before. From up top I did see Ted get a splashy and explosive take from a gar but he didn't hook up.
We all went on hunting and Dave was able to land another gar awhile later. After trying the rope again I eventually switched back to a fly with a hook and started casting near the bank. I was able to land quite a few bluegill and landed a small channel cat that absolutely smashed my fly. I think channel cats have to be one of the hardest fighting fish for their size around here. They pull hard and don't give up without a lengthy fight.

It was time for me to head home and Dave opted to leave at that point as well. As we worked out way back toward the car I saw something small but quite long cruising around on the surface near me. It was a small gar! I didn't have a rope fly on but it might have been a good thing since this gar was so small. I presented my fly to it and got him to take it. I somehow got the hook stuck into its bony mouth and landed the little devil. It was a nice little morale booster since I thought I'd be skunked for gar on the day. It was nice to meet Dave and we hope to fish again together sometime soon.

Tribute to a Tributary

The day I left Sun Valley Jim and David headed back up to the tributary of the Big Wood where we slayed them several nights earlier. The fishing was off the hook again as David landed around 20 fish in under two hours. These are a few pics they took.