Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Scouting

We haven't gotten a chance to go back and fish it yet, but Kelly and I recently found some carp flats near us. Unfortunately, they appear to be Grass Carp only flats.

Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)

I know this won't make my first serious attempt at catching a carp on the fly any easier. I have questioned a carp master for how he would approach it, and he has offered some sage advice (no fly fishing pun intended... but if you like to think of it that way, that's cool).

Two carp on the flats- one in photo center, one at top partly in shadow

I have high hopes of hooking up with one soon, but I expect my first attempt will merely be a lesson in humility.

The Grass Carp weren't the only things we saw swimming. There were lots of small Largemouths and Bluegill.

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a single small Alabama "Spotted" Bass.

Alabama Bass (Micropterus henshalli)

We were beginning to lose hope for there being any quality bass in the lake (because it appears to receive a good deal of fishing pressure)... but before we wrapped up our scouting mission, we spotted a school of four bruisers prowling the shoreline. They were a bit difficult to photograph from our vantage point on the trail, but two of the four are visible in the photo below- the two smaller ones were around three pounds and the two larger ones I would estimate to be closer to five.

Largemouth Bass (M. salmoides)

Of course it wouldn't be a complete hike in the woods for us without finding at least one snake.

Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus)

As nice as it was hiking around the lake armed with a camera, I'm really looking forward to getting back out there with kayaks and fly rods.

Monday, July 16, 2012

We'll call it a tie

Finally...

19" Largemouth

I catch a respectable fish again. A Northern Largemouth (Micropterus salmoides salmoides) that qualifies for the Bass Slam too! Maybe I won't be outfished by a girl this time.

The girl won't go down easy though.

A nice 15" Smallie

Oh yeah, taking the lead back.

16" Largemouth

The lead may be in jeopardy...

Good fish on the line.

18" Smallmouth

Okay, okay, we'll call it a tie.

Last, but certainly not least, a rare freshwater shark sighting...


In addition to observing this rare creature and catching our fair share of good fish, we saw a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) cross the creek, a family of three River Otters (Lontra canadensis) spying on us from behind the cypress knees at the water's edge, two more Whitetails browsing on the shrubbery along a rocky shoal, and the usual Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) for good measure.

I'd say one heck of a day on Cypress Creek.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the previous post for some nice photos of one of our favorite outdoor places. I got a little carried away and posted twice tonight, but don't worry... that's not likely to happen again anytime soon.

Snorkeling or fly fishing?

On Friday, Kelly and I went to Little River Canyon and took a non-fishing friend with us. Elizabeth is one of Kelly's fellow biology graduate students, and being the biologist that she is, she was content to snorkel along behind us enjoying the fish and other aquatic life of the river.

A part of me feels like I've missed out a bit, because I've never snorkeled the river in the canyon...

until I remember that I'd rather be fly fishing.

Elizabeth took some really nice photos of Kelly and I that we wouldn't normally get. For that reason alone, I'm glad we invited her to tag along.





I'm seriously considering her offer to become our official photographer. (Hopefully, she'll work for free because we really don't have a budget to pay her... yet.)

Toward the end of the day, we let Elizabeth give fly casting a try.


Kelly even managed to help her find a cooperative Green Sunfish.


From the look of her reaction, this fly fishing thing may be more fun than snorkeling after all.

Kelly and I each caught a few bass and the usual helping of sunfish. For the first time in quite a while, I caught the best fish of the day...


which isn't really saying much.

As a side note, Kelly and I have noticed that these Alabama Bass (Micropterus henshalli), also known as Alabama Spotted Bass, have some pretty serious teeth.


They're certainly no sharks, but after a day of catching these guys, you can expect your thumb to be pretty well abraded.

Stay tuned for the soon forthcoming next post that features a rare freshwater shark sighting and a nice bass... or two... or four.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gear recommendation: Natural Gear Dry Vent River Shirt

Some of you may remember my Valentine's Day gift exchange with Kelly earlier this year. She gave me a new fishing shirt, and I gave her a pet snake... no joke. I was unfamiliar with the brand, but Kelly new that the name and the logo would appeal to me.

Branding that appeals to the naturalist/herpetologist.

The other tags on the shirt give the details.

Those of you that hunt are probably more familiar with the brand. Natural Gear specializes in camouflage apparel for hunting, but they might just make the best fishing shirt money can buy. Kelly bought the first one at Sam's Club, and I have since bought four more. The last two were on sale for less than $17 each.


The shirts are considerably less expensive than similar shirts from Simms, Columbia, and Ex Officio (which I also have in the closet)... and I actually like them better. I think my favorite feature is the magetic flap closures on the chest pockets. They even come with a friendly warning for fisherman with pacemakers.


The magnetic flaps make it really easy to get to your fly boxes when needed, but provide ample security when you accidentally take the plunge into a deep hole. I know, I've done it. There is also a really nice zipper pocket that I primarily use for tippet. I haven't really used my chest pack since I started wearing these shirts.

The Natural Gear Dry Vent River Shirt is available at Sam's Club, but maybe not for much longer. The last time we checked, they were on clearance for less than $12. It's pretty obvious that fishing apparel really isn't Natural Gear's focus, but I personally think they shouldn't give it up. It's unclear from their website, but it seems they might not be offering these shirts for much longer. The "sunset" orange one that Kelly gave me is currently being closed out. These shirts are well worth their full price on the website, but they are a steal at the prices we've seen at Sam's and the closeout price online.

I sent Natural Gear an e-mail to tell them know how much I liked their shirts and let them know I would be posting this recommendation to my fellow anglers. I really hope somebody at Natural Gear is listening.

So, if you're not concerned with wearing what all the cool fly fisher kids are wearing, check these shirts out before they're gone.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The one that got away!

I've never shared another person's video here on The Naturalist's Angle, and it's probably not something I will make a habit, but I thought this was pretty cool. I haven't seen anybody else in the fishing blogosphere post it yet, so here we go.

If you have sensitive ears, I will warn you that you may hear some naughty language... but I think in this case it's justified.



My favorite part: "It's on your pole, baby, keep reelin'... keep reelin'."

So, I think the moral of the story is to watch out for Bull Sharks when playing your Redfish in the marsh.

Now who wants to go after some Reds this weekend?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tribute to a fallen fly rod

Today was a sad day for a favorite fly rod and a great day for fishing.

Kelly and I went out for one of our typical evening fishing sessions. We spent a few minutes at an access point we've never tried on our neighborhood stream, but it turned out to be less than stellar so we went back to a spot we haven't visited in a while. It has a very urban feel about it as you can probably tell from the pictures, but before I even made it down to the water... I broke my fly rod. (Not really sure what I did, but apparently I tweaked it the wrong way while trying to pull line through the guides.... oops.)

It was no big financial loss, but it has been my go to rod on a lot of our fishing adventures. That rod landed a lot of good fish, including some nice trout on Christmas Day 2010. I'm not ashamed to admit, I like fishing with bargain gear that works. Maybe it's a little like a fascination with drinking PBR... but I think it's a bit more down to earth and a little less hipster than that.

R.I.P. Eagle Claw Granger Fly XG 9' 5wt (Retail $29.99)

I usually have a spare rod in the car, but not today. Kelly was kind enough to share her rod, and we took turns using the following system: catch a bass ends your turn or catch two non-bass to end your turn. Our method actually worked out really well. It allowed us to slow down from our usual leap-frogging the length of the stream in a hurried manner trying to put a little distance between each other.

Kelly got the first turn, while I played guide.

Not a bad way to lose your turn, babe.

My turn...

Not a bad way to lose my turn either.

Kelly's next turn yielded a couple of small sunfish (non-bass). My next turn...


We're on a roll!

Kelly's next turn was spent on a small bass (not photo worthy). My next go around...

Barely photo worthy... lose your turn.

Kelly's turn that followed involved a couple of missed fish, and a small sunfish brought to hand. She decided to let me fish most of the way back upstream until we got to the bridge where we have been burned several times before. We've watched a lot of nice fish repeatedly refuse our offerings under that bridge (the spot directly behind the fish in the photo below), but not today...

First bass from the hole under the bridge!

My turn spent, Kelly then missed two more willing bass under the bridge. The first one she was a little too quick on the hook set, and the second fish broke off and swam away with a five dollar Booglebug in its lip... argghh.

A broken bargain fly rod and a lost Booglebug... a small price to pay for a good day on the stream.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spiffed up spinnerbaits and a bettered baitcaster

As I mentioned in my last post, I was "recently given a huge lot of plastic worms and such." I'm still not quite ready to tell that whole story, but among the items were a good number of spinnerbaits that needed some love. Only a select few in the bunch even had skirts, and those were pretty much dry rotted and falling apart. When Kelly and I went to Bass Pro several days ago to get some worm hooks, I also picked up a package of replacement spinnerbait skirts. I can honestly say this was the first time I have ever bought these for their intended purpose- without plans of dismantling them to use as "sili legs" for fly tying.


Since I had these newly skirted spinnerbaits that needed testing, I needed a rod capable of casting them. They're just a bit much for my ultralight spinning rods.

There were also a handful of old rods that accompanied the "huge lot of plastic worms and such," but none of those were quite what I was looking for today. (More about those rods to come. Stay tuned.) I remembered a rod that my good friend Don rescued from a trash pile last fall. Don and I both have a habit of scouring the trash in our respective neighborhoods for treasures that other people consider trash. We've both found some pretty awesome items. Fortunately for me, Don isn't a fisherman so he sends any fishing related items my way. The rod wasn't anything spectacular, but I thought it might serve my purpose.


The original reel on it was damaged and useless, so I said goodbye to that in favor of some new hardware.


New reel spooled, mounted, and ready to fish.


Now for the results...


I only managed to land one overzealous Green Sunfish.


While Kelly caught the only bass of the day with her trusty fly rod.

There certainly won't be any convincing her to give hardware fishing a try anytime soon.