Summertime is Smallmouth time!

Today in Michigan it was 93 degrees, and the heat index was over 100 degrees. Instead of staying indoors like most normal people. Opie, Kory, and myself headed out to see if the smallmouth like the heat. We also wanted to explore a new section of river, of course we pick the hottest day of the year to do it.

20130714-222453.jpg

The river was a little high, an while we caught fish it was not gang busters. We caught fish on top water but the best bite was deep. I guess the fish thought it was too hot as well.

20130714-222523.jpg

We had a great evening! Getting outside and exploring is always better then being inside and comfortable. We determined this section should be fished more, and had a couple good laughs, that were mostly at my expense! Most of all we were outside enjoying this beautiful state we live in.

20130714-222539.jpg

Get outside and explore,

PT

Alaska Preview!

20130620-172313.jpg

20130620-172333.jpg
Well, we just back from Alaska! I think I can speak for all of the guys, and say we did not want to come home. The fishing was everything that Alaska should be! We caught fresh Sockeyes one day, and chased Silver Salmon the next day. We were able to explore six different river systems, caught some nice trout and Dollys.

Best of all we had a blast just like every FLG trip. We shot almost 300 minutes of video, so get ready for a kick butt show. I think this footage is some of the best we have ever shot!

20130620-172420.jpg
We are holding out with some of our best shots, but I thought I would post a bit of a preview for you all! I hope you enjoy!

20130620-173353.jpg
Watch for some great content coming from FLG headquarters over the next few weeks, and if you are getting impatient do not be afraid to let Opie know that you need to see some film!

20130620-173640.jpg

Tight lines,

PT

Steelhead Bum or Bummed Steelheader

20130413-001109.jpg

I had grandiose plans for the weekend of spending all day on the stream chasing spring steelhead and having fun relaxing. Turns out Mother Nature had other plans and dumped a whole pile of rain on us this week causing the rivers to all blow out. And to top it all off it’s snowing, blowing and cold today. Go figure.

I’m pretty bummed out because PT snuck out fishing on Tuesday an absolutely slayed the steelhead which puts me seriously behind in the FLG Steelhead challenge.

The run is hot and heavy right now and there is still some time left so I might have a chance at redemption once the rivers come down.

I sure hope that’s the case or PT isn’t going to let me live down the defeat.

20130413-130429.jpg

At least one of the boys is out there getting it done. Nice work PT.

Tight lines,

Opie

An Order of Frys

With the winter months locking down most of the watersheds, and most recently the melt off/rain blowing them out to unfishable levels, it was time to start re-stocking the steelhead boxes.

The past few years of my late winter/early spring steelhead success can be attributed to 2 primary patterns, an often overlooked pattern and a twist on a common Great Lakes nymph.

As most everyone is aware salmon make their annual spawning migrations in the fall, and fishing several river systems that support a substantial amount of natural reproduction – several thousand salmon fry begin to hatch in the late winter months. These fry often times become extremely easy meals for steelhead and trout that are looking to get a signficant amount of calorie intake without doing a lot of work. Salmon fry tend to congregate in softer seams of pools and runs – causing predatory fish to seek them out in those areas. I don’t often hear of many folks fishing fry patterns in the Great Lakes, and maybe that is a contributor to my success (showing them something different).

My second most successful fly during this time period is a version of any standard hex pattern – a flashback grizzly hex. One of my counterparts refers to his version of the pattern as a “Double Duty Hex” as it could easily be mistaken in the water as a salmon fry/parr as well. As the swamps and mucky areas where these burrowing nymphs begin to unfreeze and escape the grip of winter lock down – often times these nymphs are dislodged and washed into the current to become easy meals for steelhead.

Time to start stocking up on these 2 great patterns and getting ready for chrome the next 2+ months!

Tight Lines,

Bob Barber

 

 

Change of plans

Well every once and awhile fishing plans fall through. Today was one of those days, I got the text at 6:30 this morning the my fishing partner was sick. This actually really rare with the group of guys I fish with, so I was caught off guard with no back-up plans.

So what to do when the sun is shinning and warming up? I took my chocolate lab Georgia to chase some bunnies. She is getting a little older and honestly is a horrible rabbit dog, I tried to tell her to stick to ducks and pheasants, but when she sees a gun come out she will not be left behind.

We had a wonderful walk and a expected saw zero bunnies. The funny thing is I didn’t care and neither did she. It was wonderful to get outside, but I would have much rather been on the river playing with some fresh steelhead. Spending time with my dog and just slowing down is good for the soul.

Tight lines,

Pt

20130209-173659.jpg

20130209-175105.jpg

Confessions of a Swinger

The swing game for steelhead was admittedly always a bit intimidating for me to jump into with both feet, as I have become very accustomed to staring at an indicator roll down the current of the river. I was unsure of what line, head, tip combo to use in particular conditions and flows. The flies were somewhat foreign to me, and resembled something closer to a mangled Muppet than the small nymphs and eggs I typically tie. And then there is the casting – I hadn’t a clue where to even begin without doing major harm to myself or those around me as I tried to sling around a giant heavy bug.

I literally laid awake in bed nights before trips not envisioning perfect D-loops or slinging 80 feet of line – I was awake due to the nervousness of burying a 1/0 hook into the back of my head or the head of an innocent bystander (disclaimer: if you know the crew I role with – none of them are really ever innocent, they are all guilty of something all the
time).

Alas with the encouragement and prodding of others I decided to commit to the swing this fall and throw all caution to the wind. Here’s 10 of the biggest things I learned:
1. As it was explained to me by an experienced swing guy – Swinging is really nothing more than getting a giant fly out across the current and hanging on. Surely it can’t be that simple is it?
2. He was for the most part right – By hook or by crook, it doesn’t have to have the style and grace that you see proficient spey casters perform with, just get the damn bug out there and hang on.
3. Line choice is simple – Figure out what the grain window is for the rod that you are casting, skagit heads make life simpler when managing the heavy T material heads (t-14, t-11, t-8, etc)
4. Keep it simple - I’ve literally used 2 different tips connected to my skagit head all year (a poly leader for lower/smaller flows and 10′ of T-14 for larger more significant flows)
5. You cannot go wrong when you tie swing bugs – You can hide tying in-adequateness just by adding a bit more flash or schlappen or marabou.
6. Casting is not as nearly as intimidating as a beginner may think – YouTube is a beautiful resource. Biggest thing that I’ve learned is to slow down and let the rod do the work. Spey casting probably comes easier to women, unlike men they don’t try and channel their primal caveman like instinct and feel the need to over power everything. Just calm the hell down and be smooth.
7. The feeling that is experienced can only be described as 100% pure elation – And that does not even come close to being accurate. I’m convinced that the English language does not contain words that adequately describe the feeling when a fish decides to latch on.
8. Steelhead are the dumbest smart creatures that God has placed on this earth – ¬†There are days they have you figured out, and then there are days that you can’t do anything wrong. Stick with it – truly I don’t believe it has anything to do with you and has more to due with their nature.
9. Stick with it – You are going to have fishless days. I promise you that you will have fishless days. But there is still a ton of work to be done on the fishless days – work on casting, work on reading water, drinking bourbon, experimenting with how casting at varying degrees effects the speed of the swing, etc.
10. Don’t play the whole tug, grab, pluck, pull numbers game ¬†- I still don’t understand why people add this column to their “numbers” like some sort of stat. You want to compare it to a sports stat? I compare it to hitting a baseball to the warning track and it being caught by the center fielder. Who gives a rip if you hit it to the warning track? It doesn’t count for anything in my book.

There you have it – 10 of the top lessons that I’ve learned in my first full ditched effort in the swing game.

Tight Lines,

Bob Barber