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Monday, July 14, 2014

Dinosaurs for Father and Son

I was contacted by Cameron about getting his nine year old son, Sebastian, into some "dinosaurs"- the fossil fish of Lake Champlain: bowfin and gar. Two of my specialties! We set up a trip for them and set off on a great adventure. 

I was a bit worried about the forecast with the potential for thunderstorms. For that reason we decided on an early morning trip. We met at 6 am and the skies definitely looked like a front was going to make its way through. The wind was up a bit too. We were all really enthusiastic and I had a good feeling about the day. 

After getting to one of my favorite bowfin spots it didn't take long before we started seeing bowfin, more correctly Sebastian saw the first one. It didn't take long to realize that this boy has incredible eyes! He was spotting fish easily and getting the fly right in front of them with ease. It was really remarkable. He got a nice 4 pound bowfin fairly quickly and then Dad jumped on a nice one too. The action was hot! Bowfin were everywhere.

I was talking to Cameron and Sebastian got quiet. We both realized something was going on when there was splashing at the front of the canoe. He had a nice fish on! He got into it all by himself! That fish ended up being 24" which qualifies him for a Master Class bowfin in the Youth category (it needed to be 23"). He did that one other time too with a smaller fish. 

The bowfin were definitely on the prowl and 6 were landed and about 25 were hooked. Not too bad. 


We braved a headwind to move to another bay to look for gar. At first it wasn't very promising. The water was very discolored and it was difficult to see anything. We were getting pushed around quite a bit too. Then a large gar porpoised in front of us, and another. I had Cameron blind cast which is very different than my regular sight fishing for gar. I had a feeling it might be a better option in this situation. I was right. Cameron got a very nice 40" gar doing that. His gar also qualifies for the Master Angler Program

Sebastian had to get one as well. Time was running out for us too. This boy has some incredible luck and skill though. On a blind cast he got into a nice 39" gar. He got his second Master Class fish and crushed the 30" he needed to qualify for the program! I was pretty happy about that and both of my anglers were very pleased as well!


A great day on the water!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Champlain Flats Slam... for Both Anglers!

Some serious carpage there Pete!
Any day that I get to spend fishing with my brother Pete is pretty awesome but today was one of the absolute best! Perfect wind, perfect sun, the fish were out and active... the result was that we both got a Lake Champlain Flats Slam- smallmouth, carp, and drum!  Freakin' awesome! I am riding high from that right now!

Pete is super psyched too. He has only caught one carp before and that fish was a nice one but it was in the weeds and didn't get to do what carp normally do... this one was a different ballgame. He cast to it, saw the take and the fish took off. It wasn't a huge one but his smile was! He was pumped to have his feet on the ground when he got it too. 

My carp was a tad bigger and a first for me- the first carp I have caught barefoot and shirtless! Pretty fun actually! Lovely fish too.

Pete hit a nice smallie after we chased drum for a bit. The big ones weren't playing but the smaller guys did. I hit a decent one with a new crawfish pattern (pics up soon I promise) and then I got a smallmouth. He wanted in on the Champlain Flats Slam... so we found him a nice lil puppy drum. They are fun fish for sure! His first too.

So you can see we had a lot of fun getting our Lake Champlain Flats Slam... do you want one now? Hit me up and lets talk! 


Right on! Great take with this fish- we both got to see it!
Pete's grin tells the whole story!

Drum are a blast when you get them on the fly! The big ones are on the list...

Pete's first drum... bigger ones to follow!
Smallmouth action!

Pete with the ever popular "there WAS a drum right there" look...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Master Class Smallie for Mike

Mike's biggest smallmouth bass ever and his first Master Angler fish to be entered!
So Mike approached me about getting his Vermont Master Angler pin for this year. It has been tough to coordinate getting time on the water (he is a busy guy with a great wife and two awesome kids) but we got out yesterday. The original quarry was carp but they were being, well, carp. Fortunately there are a lot of nice smallies to play with in the location that we were at so sight fishing for big smallies was the name of the game. 

I call it "Hex Fiend"
We had some fish that came up and teased us. The Hexagenia hatch is in full swing on Lake Champlain right now and we were using flies that were very similar in size and color (I now have really good imitations for those carp though...). 

The release
I spotted a big smallmouth sitting on a rock pile. Because of the sun angle Mike could not see the fish well. I told him where to cast and he put the fly perfectly where it needed to be. I watched that bass zip right over to the fly and inhale it. It went airborne fast!  That fish put one serious bend in a 9 weight rod. It went on three good runs before we got it in the net. It taped out to be 21.5", well over the 19" needed for Master Class.

Mike will be working with me for the rest of the summer to earn his Vermont Master Angler pin... would you like to do the same?  Hit me up muskyflies@gmail.com

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Working the Weeds

I got out and hit the weeds yesterday in search of whatever I could find. I had a 9, 8, and 4 weight rigged and ready with me. So many panfish kicking around right now. Constant action with those guys. Some big bass are out and about too. A few of those bass are still guarding babies. Pretty late for sure.

The big action came with bowfin. I love how they just sneak up to the canoe stealthily. But then they hammer the fly and go nuts! Awesome fish! 

The most fun fight of the day was the 14 1/2 inch bullhead that I sight fished with a small carp fly.
That thing hammered the fly then got the reel singing for a few seconds. Pretty nice bend in the rod too. Cats are 
pretty phenomenal. Can't wait to get into a big channel cat this summer! It is on the list... 




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lake Champlain Report Week of 7/7/14

I have been out and about along Lake Champlain this week and here is what I am seeing:

The lake is in good shape  at just under 97 feet and is now hitting 70 on a regular basis. The water clarity is good and the weed growth isn't too heavy yet. Plenty of bait around and the Hex hatch is on. The biggest issue in the past week has been the wind and thunderstorms. They make sight fishing difficult at best and dangerous to be on the water at worse.


The carp are on! The Hexegenia hatch has begun and the carp are in feeding mode. This is a great time to get out there and chase one of the finest gamefish that Champlain has to offer. Sight fishing for these big bruisers is awesome! They will take a wide variety of flies from Clouser Swimming Nymphs, Hex patterns, crawfish patterns, San Juan Worms and many of the carp flies that are out there in sizes 2 through 10.


Panfish are hot hot hot! Big pumpkinseeds and bluegills are on their nests right now. Throw a 2 to 4 weight rod in your boat for some light rod fun! A 10 inch panfish on a light rod is a blast! They take small nymphs (bead heads are best in sizes 10-14), dries and poppers. Hit it up! 

Bowfin and gar are both out there and on the prowl too. Big predators that most folks don't chase but are really amazing gamefish in their own right. Gar flies around 8-9 inches will do the trick for the gar and you can't go wrong with Mr Bow-regard for bowfin. These guys love the heat of the day so don't be afraid to chase them then! Great chance to sight fish in the sun!
 
Smallmouth  finished up the spawn (yes, this late!).Same applies to the bucketmouths. Tons of flies work for these guys but with the heat we are having one of the most fun methods is to use a topwater fly of some kind- popper, slider or diver. That crash is a lot of fun! This works best at dawn and dusk.

Smaller pike and pickerel are in the shallows but the bigger fish have moved out to deeper weedbeds. Try a sink tip line and typical pike flies like bunny bugs, Deceivers, Clouser Half and halfs in sizes 2/0 to 6/0. Flies in the 6 to 8 inch range seem to be getting it done best right now. 

Drum are out there too and can be really tricky to coax onto the fly but when they do it is money! Keep and eye out when you are near rocky structure. They will be starting their spawn shortly so don't be surprised to see them daisy chaining. Buggers, clousers and crawfish patterns (they do like Hex patterns too!) in sizes 2-8.
 

I am running a Learn to Champlain Carp special right now that includes on the water instruction for $175 and includes a selection of proven carp patterns. Email me at muskyflies@gmail.com for more details!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Bowfun Begins!

Alan contacted me about learning more about how to sight fish. It is summer time in Vermont and what better fish to learn about sight fishing than bowfin? They get big and teach a lot about looking for fish. Of course it helps that they are more than willing to grab onto a fly and give it a good shake too! 

The water wasn't as clear as I was hoping for because of a combination of wind (it was really blowing on Saturday), earlier storms (the July 4th storm was serious business) and feeding carp (a bunch of carp feeding on the bottom gets messy fast). There was enough clear water to find the fish, but some spots were tougher than others. 

There were plenty of shots at bowfin throughout the day. Multiple times there were several fish around the boat at the same time. We only saw one real bruiser but the water is still fairly cool for this time of year. There were other fish around too- he had shots at big bass, gar and carp. Alan learned just how spooky carp can be as well. They are awesome fish but definitely one that takes a lot of patience.

Did he have a great day? Take a look at the smile on his face! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Champlain Flats Slam!

Some carp yummies for testing- I'm a proud Deer Creek Pro Staffer!
I was expecting to have a client on the water today. Really looking forward to that but the weather guys had forecasted gloom and doom- an 85% chance of thunderstorms with the possibility of crazy hail and even tornadoes. He and I talked and decided to postpone. I felt badly but it was a situation where discretion was the better part of valor (thanks for that phrase Shakespeare). I thought I would try to get a bit of time in before the weather world came to an end (or so it was predicted- but Nostradamus wasn't always right either weather guys...).
Love the colors on these scrappers!

Well, rain came down for less than 5 minutes. It was overcast, light wind and there were fish everywhere. By the end of the day I was seriously annoyed... at the weather people... Lake Champlain was great to me! 

I tried out a few new carp patterns... they seemed to be doing the trick. The gray seems to be the one the fish like the most. After losing both the new gray ones to fish I went back to the old standby. That did the trick as well.... Here are the results:  

The photo doesn't do credit to the colors on these fish!
Smallmouth were all over. I landed about a dozen or so of various sizes. I didn't get the biggest I saw but they were very acrobatic (the one pictured did a 4 foot leap). They are such spunky fish. Any time I saw one and threw something near it I had a fish on. 

Drum- hooked 3 landed two. Nothing huge but even the little 14" drum put a great bend in an 8 weight rod. They were all about eating today and a fly near the bottom got the job done. The bigger one came in around 19". I still haven't seen any of the real big ones in shallow  yet but that is coming soon for sure!

Champlain bonefish!
Carp- went one for two. The first one got me into my backing in no time flat then broke off. Seriously hot carp! Loved it! Most of the fish I was seeing were pretty spooky and on the move. I saw a lot of them so it wasn't the end of the world. The last fish was up close and personal. I dropped the fly in front of its face and watched it hammer on it. It was off to the races then!  That thing plowed through weeds like they weren't even there! Just went all over the place. Tore off. After I got it out of the weeds it still took another 10 minutes or so to land it. It taped out at 31". Very nice fish. A quick aside here: The leader was pretty ripped up after the time in the weeds but that Mirage 3X held up strong. I did change it out as soon as I landed the fish. Just a little friendly advice for anyone that deals with fish that burn through weeds- check your tippet!

Big gar... note the upper jaw
Gar- got one nice big ol' gar on a carp fly! That guy was HUNGRY! I can totally tell why... the top of its mouth was broken off. It still managed to grab the fly after chasing it down though. Big guy, over 48" ( I taped it to 30" and it flipped out and got away before I could finish, but there were at least 18" more fish after that). I am not sure how this fish ended up like this- I have seen boat hits before but the other thing it could be (and I hope not... but if it is true I hope to run into the person who did it in a dark alley...) is someone intentionally breaking the beak off to keep the fish from feeding. Yes, there are anglers out there, notably some bass guys, who think that gar destroy other fish populations. Well, they don't ya jackholes, and let me also point out to you guys that longnose gar are NATIVE to Lake Champlain while largemouth bass are NOT... if you ever see a guy doing that please feel free to rip off his lower jaw and throw him back to live out a long lingering death... It does tell you something about how tough these guys are though... and still trying to make a living eating anything it can!

I consider a Lake Champlain Flats slam to be a drum, carp and a smallmouth and I call a drum, carp, gar and bowfin a Champlain Oddball slam... so I was close to both today! Nick, you are on deck for the next one!

Champlain is hot right now! I can get you on fish if you let me! Hit me up at muskyflies@gmail.com

 
Obligatory dropped drum picture!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lake Champlain Report Week of 6/30

I have been out and about along Lake Champlain this week and here is what I am seeing:

The lake is in good shape  at just over 97 feet and is now hitting 70 on a regular basis. The water clarity is good and the weed growth isn't too heavy yet. Plenty of bait around and the Hex hatch is in its early stages. 
36" carp taken sight fishing

The carp are on! The Hexegenia hatch has begun and the carp are in feeding mode. This is a great time to get out there and chase one of the finest gamefish that Champlain has to offer. Sight fishing for these big bruisers is awesome! They will take a wide variety of flies from Clouser Swimming Nymphs, Hex patterns, crawfish patterns, San Juan Worms and many of the carp flies that are out there in sizes 2 through 10.

Panfish are hot hot hot! Big pumpkinseeds and bluegills are on their nests right now. Throw a 2 to 4 weight rod in your boat for some light rod fun! A 10 inch panfish on a light rod is a blast! They take small nymphs (bead heads are best in sizes 10-14), dries and poppers. Hit it up! 

Bowfin and gar are both out there and on the prowl too. Big predators that most folks don't chase but are really amazing gamefish in their own right. Gar flies around 8-9 inches will do the trick for the gar and you can't go wrong with Mr Bow-regard for bowfin. 
 
19.5" Master Class Smallmouth caught

Smallmouth are just finishing up the spawn (yes, this late!). It is a really late year on the lake folks and don't be surprised to find the big boys still sitting on beds. Same applies to the bucketmouths. Tons of flies work for these guys but with the heat we are having one of the most fun methods is to use a topwater fly of some kind- popper, slider or diver. That crash is a lot of fun! 

Smaller pike and pickerel are in the shallows but the bigger fish have moved out to deeper weedbeds. Try a sink tip line and typical pike flies like bunny bugs, Deceivers, Clouser Half and halfs in sizes 2/0 to 6/0. Flies in the 6 to 8 inch range seem to be getting it done best right now. 

Drum are out there too and can be really tricky to coax onto the fly but when they do it is money! Keep and eye out when you are near rocky structure. They will be starting their spawn shortly so don't be surprised to see them daisy chaining. Buggers, clousers and crawfish patterns (they do like Hex patterns too!) in sizes 2-8.
 

I am running a Learn to Champlain Carp special right now that includes on the water instruction for $175 and includes a selection of proven carp patterns. Email me at muskyflies@gmail.com for more details! 

Tight lines folks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

First Time on the Water

I was asked by Dale at the Orvis Flagship store if I would be willing to provide a Fly Fishing 301 course for new fly anglers and I jumped at the chance! Nothing better for folks just getting into fly fishing than our fantastic smallmouth bass run! So we set it up and a couple took me up on it this past weekend. Allan and Linda are brand new to fly fishing and this was the first time that they would be on the water as a couple. I didn't know that until they got to our location and I could not have been happier!

I started off by showing them some important knots to know but I could tell that they were excited to head to the water so we got down there quickly. I helped them dial in their casts really well. By the end of the day they were both casting weighted flies really well. 

I showed them how to see bass in the water. Learning how to spot and fish to a visible fish is a great skill to learn. Linda was on it! She hooked the first fish and while she was a bit nervous about it (she told me that she had never caught a fish before ever!) she did great! A nice healthy smallmouth bass. After her second fish Linda was bragging about how big they are. I still get a good laugh when I think about what she said after releasing her second fish "You tell your friends that a woman caught you!"

Allan followed suit shortly afterwards and caught another great bass. By the end of the outing each of them had cast to and landed two smallies! They are great folks that have just started down the fly fishing road! If this experience is any indication they are going to have a whole lot of fun with it!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pick Pickin' with the Pike Picker

My good buddy Ken Capsey and I both love to fish for chain pickerel. These lil guys have a whole lot of heart, put up a great fight and are a blast on the fly. And they are a pretty good looking fish too. So when Ken suggested that we get out and fish one of his favorite ponds I jumped at the chance to do that! It was early on Satuday morning that we headed out, armed with a bunch of freshly tied flies using Deer Creek Gliss-n-Glint and the heads were coated in Deer Creek Diamond Fine. Ken and I are both Pro Team tyers for Deer Creek and love the stuff that they make. 

The pond was in great shape and quickly started to produce fish. The pickerel were on. I spotted a fish sitting near the surface and made a cast near it. The fly barely had a chance to hit the water when it got smacked hard by a jolt of green lightning! That was how it was most of the day. There were a few slow minutes but for the most part the action was hot and heavy. Not all of the fish were large but the vast majority of pickerel were in the 16-20 inch range. Ken got the corker of the day with a 22" pick. He assures me that there are pickerel up to 30" kicking around in there... 

There were two bonus fish too. Within the first hour we were there I got a 13" crappie- big enough to qualify for the Vermont Master Angler program! I also got a really nice and fat 19" smallmouth, another Master Class fish! 

To round out the Master Class fish for me this weekend, I got out yesterday after having some clients out and got a really nice 10" rock bass. I was working a larger one than that but it wasn't playing... but I know where he lives!