Archive | 2014

Short Strikes – November 2014 Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of Off the Deep Edge Warm Water Fly Fishing’s newsletter that I so cleverly named “Short Strikes”! As the name implies this is going to be a series of quick hits on what we are up to, been doing and can expect a full article on soon, things we’re thinking about or any news relevant to our sport.

 

Talk to Us

This is also an invite to all of you to talk to us. If you have any questions about something we did or said or are looking for more information on some subject we touched on. Or even to suggest things you’d like to learn more about whether being fishing locations, different species, types of gear etc., whatever, don’t be afraid to ask. There is not a forum on this site where you can talk with each other but rather this is a one on one, me to you. Just post your questions in the comment section right after each article or drop me a line at info@offthedeepedge.com. I’d be happy to chat with you.

 

Florida Fly Fishing Expo – Oct. 10 – 11

So much happened here that I could probably write half a dozen articles. The Florida FFF is a great bunch of guys who put on an awesome show. Quick hits…Made some new friends with the Tallahassee bunch and Wilkinson Fly Fishing of Havana, Fl. We got an invite to come back and do a program for their club and spend a couple days fishing, I hear road trip! Buddy Price of Fly Fish Video (.com) shot tying footage for two more of my flies, the Sonic Boom and the Magic Bullet. I look forward to seeing how these came out. Also found out that the guys at Saltwater Flytyers & Outfitters in St. Augustine like to use my fly the Hairy Fodder on redfish. Maybe I can get them to write a piece about that for us. Hey it’s still warm water just with a touch of salt! Then I found Lake Rousseau near Ocala, great fishery, more on that later. Plus I got to hang out a little and talk one on one with this guy…

Craig Riendeau with Bob Clouser in Florida

Craig with Bob Clouser

 

Going North!

For my Yankee friends out there I’ll be in your neighborhood this month. On the 9th I’ll be in Lombard, Il (suburb of Chicago) at the Early Show being presented by John Loebach and the DuPage Rivers Fly Tyers (DRiFT) giving a presentation on warm water fly fishing and doing a little tying as well. Then on the 11th I’ll be doing a tying demonstration for DRiFT at the College of DuPage (COD). I think I’ll be tying my new pattern, the Magic Bullet. Haven’t seen it? I guess that’s an upcoming article (or a Fly Fish Video YouTube show).

 

Fly Tyer Magazine

I just got confirmation from the editor, David Klausmeyer that indeed the article about my fly, the Sonic Boom, will be in the winter issue. For those who missed it, the autumn issue had my article about the Wee Willy Wiggler. I guess he likes my flies because he requested more!

 

Thanksgiving

It may be a little early but Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and yours! After you say thanks for all the usual things in your life, remember to give thanks for your rights and ability to get out and fish public waters. It’s ours because we live in the land of the free…thank a vet!

A Really Crappie Day

March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. But during the last week of the month that lion ambushed me one last time to bite me on my a*# during my latest fishing trip. What was predicted to be a perfect picnic weather early spring day ended up going south (even further south than Georgia where I live) and turned into a day where temps stayed twenty degrees below what I was expecting and offered winds that would dislodge just about every anchor hold I attempted to make.

Casting was also a challenge having to aim a good fifteen feet upwind of your target in hopes of getting anywhere close. Having exchanged my six weight out of my boat the night before for my three at the forecast of good weather, I found myself doing a lot of side arm double haul casting in an attempt to stay below the wind and of reaching my target.

Let me regress a little. Spring was a week old and down here in the south that means everything is biting. I had headed out to High Falls Lake just south of Atlanta, it’s a lake that I had been meaning to try for years. Not knowing what to expect I planned on doing “just a little fishing”. By that I mean I’m rigged for multiple species and whoever wants to bite, I’ll fish for. This particular body of water is noted for larger than average bass and if I had to pick one species they would be my fish of choice. But as fate would have it, as I was launching my boat that morning I kept seeing small rises fifty yards offshore on the lee side of the point the ramp was on. I figure it may be bluegill or maybe even crappie and I’d give them a few minutes before I set out for the bass because hey, whatever they are, they were active.

Being just after sunrise, the wind was only blowing moderately then, still a little disconcerting for this early in the day. As I drifted across the flat where I had seen the rises I blind casted a #8 Sonic Boom fly on a slow sinking line hoping to connect with whatever had been feeding there just ten minutes before but to no avail. It was then I spied several brush piles lining the nearby bank. I thought to myself, “If those were crappie out here, that brush would surely hold more of them.” Moving in close to the brush I dropped anchor a short cast away (and it held, this would be the only time on this trip I could say that). I changed to a floating line with a small ½” strike indicator above the fly to suspend it near the brush piles and whatever lay beneath. Three casts in I had my first fish of the day, a nice foot long crappie. Thinking I was on to something I continued down the brushy bank for forty minutes with only two missed strikes to show for it.

Needing a change I surveyed the bay I was in. I was just off the ramp and hadn’t even turned my outboard on yet. I could see docks lining the opposite bank and more shoreline brush further down the bank the side I was on. But it was the three stumps I saw protruding mid lake that caught my eye. It was still early and maybe the water hadn’t warmed enough yet to bring the crappie to the bank in numbers. I idled out to the stumps and found them surrounded by eight feet of water, nearly the deepest in the bay. It was a perfect holding spot for pre-spawn crappie. By now the wind had picked up some since I started fishing near an hour before. Swinging the boat to the downwind side of the first stump, actually a twenty foot pine lying on its side with only one large branch reaching out of the water, I dropped an anchor within casting distance. By time I stripped out and stretched my fly line the boat was no longer in casting distance as the ten pound anchor failed to find something to hold to against the pressure of the wind. I moved the boat back upwind this time being more even with the tree’s center and off to its side figuring to slowly be blown parallel with it.

Quickly I got out a #8 chartreuse Sonic Boom set four foot under an indicator. Just as fast I was into a beautiful thirteen inch crappie. It pulled hard against my three weight rod and was tough to keep out of the tree branches. With each successive cast two amazing things happened. First I caught another beautiful crappie, some up to fifteen inches and second, the wind would get stronger. By time I put the twentieth crappie in the live well I had repositioned the boat at least six times and it had become almost impossible to hold bottom at this depth, at least in this bay. My casts had become shorter and less frequent with the wind. Whereas I had been making six or eight casts before I was out of position, it now was one and done. It was time to move on.

Seven hours later, with dozens of spots tried some deep on sunken logs or creek channels others shallow near docks or brush but all still in the wind, I had yet to draw another strike. If this were fishing a large flat or expansive weed bed, a sea anchor could have slowed the boat enough to fan cast the area. But here it was fishing “spots”, a log, a dock, a brush pile, you had to get the boat to stop to fish it effectively and that just wasn’t happening.
As the sun neared the tree tops I figured I had one more stop before I’d have to call it a day. That’s when I decided to go back to that brush pile I had caught my very first fish out of. The water temperature had risen four degrees since morning and the wind direction had shifted some giving that little bay a slight respite from the gale. Maybe the fish had moved in. This is when the day got really crappie. Yes I mean crappie, not crappy.

I put two anchors down holding me parallel to the brush pile. It lay in five feet of water with the actual bank twenty feet behind it and lined with water willows. The first five or six casts at the brush pile got nothing. Extending my cast I put the next right against the water willows, not taking the time to reposition the boat to take the brush out of my way. In went a #8 chartreuse Wee Willy Wiggler set two foot under an indicator and back came a fourteen inch slab crappie. Next cast had the same result and so did the next and the next. In the last ninety minutes of day light, thirty more gorgeous slab crappie crossed over my gunnel. None was smaller than twelve inches and the best nudged two pounds. Yes I lost a couple of beauties to that brush pile not moving the boat away from it but it added to the excitement. It turned into the crappiest day of fishing I had in some time. I think earning them made it oh the sweeter.