Friday, May 28, 2021

Andros, Bahamas... Bonefish





Our expectation was high as we landed on Mangrove Cay, Andros, just 20 minutes from bustling Nassau!

The weather was good the first day, and with bonefishing, and all flats fishing, you need sun and light wind to be successful.
If you can't see them, you can't catch them!!!

(Note the "wall" of conch shells in the background.)

A perfect morning.....
On the hunt!

It didn't take long before I was deep into my backing, pulling on my first Andros bonefish!


Although the clouds, and wind, were always present, there were a few moments when we enjoyed the bright sun, and instant visibility on the seemingly endless flats!



It is amazing how fast these fish can streak across the flats, flyline and backing trying to catch up!  A good quality reel, with a smooth drag, is certainly a must.



Speedster of the flats!


A nice start to the trip!

***

However, the next 6 days the wind would blow, day and night, as a low pressure system moved in and clouded the sky.  The bonefish weren't happy either, and we had to look hard to find them.



Strong winds also limited our fishing grounds, as well!

Fortunately, my partner, Mark Kuipers, was always the optimist, and ready to go, even with the poor conditions.
(note the dark sky in the background! ;  )


With the occasional sun peaking through, we were able to connect with some very nice bonefish!

(Yep, dark clouds in the background, and ready to rain!!  Grin!)

Prince Moxey was our guide, and he was superb!

Rather than staying at a fishing lodge, we opted to stay at a small hotel (Another Moxey family member); and we enjoyed all of our meals at Deana's (you guessed it....Prince's sister, Deana)

Conch fritters, were incredible, and we enjoyed wonderful, traditional, Bahamian cuisine every day!  (And a bottle of Kalik beer was always nearby!)



***

One of our primary goals was to teach Prince to tie bonefish flies, so that he might provide quality flies to anglers, and boost his income.  Every evening we would spend a couple of hours at the vise.

Kudos to Mark for supplying a huge box of materials and tools!




Even after a long day poling us on the flats, Prince was eager to sit down and learn how to tie bonefish flies.
I was proud of his attitude and quick learning curve!

Mangrove Cay, Andros!  
What an amazing corner of the world!

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Emigrant Wilderness Adventure 2020



 
   Anytime you talk about "great trout fishing" you immediately set the bar high for those listening, and my conversations with Will Steiger and Zach Sprenger did exactly that.  Although Will was fast becoming a solid fly fishermen, having fished stripers, as well as the surf, Will had not yet fished for trout...let alone experienced blue ribbon trout fishing!  With some basic fly tying instruction (and Youtube) Will was tying some great looking trout flies, and buzzing with excitement about a possible horse pack trip into the Emigrant Wilderness.

Zach was already a seasoned fly fisherman and fly tyer, but was equally excited about a wilderness pack trip, and hopefully, great fly fishing.  With both guys primed and excited, they made the necessary plans to take time off, and join me for this epic adventure into the "Tall and Uncut" beauty of the Emigrant Wilderness.  

However, with fires raging all over California, the Stanislaus National Forest was closed, and it did not look like our trip would materialize.  A call to the pack station, at Kennedy Meadows, assured me that they were open, and we should "come ahead".   When we arrived at the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, we were told that even though the pack station and resort were open, the forest was "....closed....until today".  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I missed the call from Kennedy, telling me that our trip was cancelled.  BUT since the forest was now officially open, TODAY, our pack trip was ON!  Whew!  Since the forest had been closed, there were no fishermen, or backpackers, in the back country.  We had it all to ourselves!

Breakfast at Kennedy Meadows

The perfect way to start the long journey into the wilderness

(Yes, that's Zach, on the right, with 3 platters of food!  Grin!)


6:00am, the next morning, our gear was loaded on the mules, and we were saddled and headed up the mountain!  Our destination-Emigrant Lake.  Starting out at an elevation of 6,400 ft. we climbed to 10,000 ft. before descending to Emigrant Lake, at 9,000 ft. It seemed like every step we were climbing, for 6 hours.



***

To say that Emigrant Lake is beautiful, is an understatement!  Cut by ancient glaciers, the domes and granite mountains are breathtaking!





After setting up camp at the base of a magnificent dome, we were ready to fish!




Big 12" to 15" brook trout were waiting, and did not hesitate to eat our streamer flies.   
(Note: It seems that the brook trout are slowly taking over Emigrant Lake.  We caught considerably more  brookies, than in years past, and fewer rainbows.  😔)



After an incredible first day, it was time to pack our tubes, and head to an area of the lake that is home to big rainbows eager to feed on grasshoppers.  






I had painted a vivid picture of rainbow trout crashing the surface to eat our hopper imitations, and Will was prepared!  Lurking around the huge boulders and islands were rainbows, hungry for our offerings.



Will with a big Emigrant, hopper-eating, rainbow!


There was no question when Will hooked a trout, and I can't blame him for shouting out...every time!  Grin!😎


Typical 15" to 17" Emigrant Rainbow


Zach casting to selective rainbows, with tiny midges.
Early morning dry fly action!

Words cannot express this incredible beauty!





Brook trout breakfast!
(Yes, it was as good as it looks!  Grin!)

To break up our trip, we hiked up the mountain, to check out Emigrant Meadow.  The climb took us about 1,000 ft. up
                                                                                                              



...and 3 miles, to this beautiful lake.  There were a few big brook trout living here, but only hooked one.  You really had the feeling that you were "on top of the world".  



Emigrant Meadow Lake


 
Casting a mouse pattern to the rocks at dusk!


Headed Home


Many thanks to our Creator, and to Will and Zach 
for the memories of an incredible trip!

***




Friday, September 11, 2020

New Orleans Bull Red(s) 2019

 


This may be the shortest blog entry....ever!

Our group of 8 anglers were scheduled to fish the Biloxi Marsh, in February, 2019, but the weather had other plans.  

The wind blew and the rain fell....every day!

Our guides were as frustrated as we were, but decided to give up on sight fishing, and cast sinking lines to likely areas with the off chance that we might get lucky.  When that failed, we actually got out on shore, with the plan to fish a deep channel that dropped off quickly from the shoreline.  Again, we were using fast sinking lines to get down deep.

As I walked up the shoreline, preparing to strip out line and start casting, a huge red tail poked through the muddy water, in less than a foot of water, right in front of me....and disappeared!  I was shocked, and excited, to quickly get my fly to the spot, as you can imagine.  As I was about to cast, I caught a glimpse of movement to my left, about 30 feet away, amidst the muddy, choppy waves, crashing on the shore.  Since I was ready to shoot the line, I redirected my cast immediately to a second massive red tail, guessing where the other end of this bull red might be located.  Instantly, I was hooked to a big red, and the fight was on!

Minutes later I beached this beautiful bull red, that weighed in at 33 lbs.  



Yes, this was the only fish I caught, or saw, the entire week.  

Thankfully, it was a memorable fish and experience!


The fly has been my favorite for bull reds, for several years, and the dark black/purple profile was exactly what was needed in the stained water!


Lee's Bull-et Fly




Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Alaska Coho Salmon



With our house located on the banks of Yakutat Bay, views in any direction were spectacular!



Each day our group of 10 guys filled the Otter bush plane, for a ride to a nearby river, somewhere along the Alaska coast!


Most "runways" were grassy fields, or sand bars near the river.


Huge snow capped mountains flanked us every day, although the weather kept most of the beauty behind a cloudy curtain.
This particular day was simply incredible.  A massive mountain framing the river....and many hooked coho salmon flying through the air!



One of many silvers I landed, over 10 lbs.



Jeff with a nice coho!

****

On one cloudy day we didn't even reach river before spotting silvers rolling in the shallow lagoon.....

....but most flies used were just too heavy, and would catch moss on the bottom, frustrating everyone.  However, a change to a Pink Neutralizer, sinking, and suspending, just under the surface, proved just the right stuff!  A full limit of 40 big silver salmon joined us on our flight back to Yakutat!!


Most of our fish were taken with this neutrally buoyant fly!

Pink Neutralizer


****
After a long day of fishing, and dragging our fish back to the pick up point, to catch the plane,
we were all tired and happy!
Oddly enough, no bears were sighted the entire week!


****
Matt's silver topped our catch on this small Alaska river.  
Right at 14 lbs.



A face only a mother....and a fly fisherman, could love!

****

Mount St. Elias was our evening companion, on this
beautiful evening!


Our deck sunsets were spectacular!


Many thanks to Jeff, George, Steve, Phil, Travis, Mark, Matt, Wayne, and Dan, for a fantastic week:  cooking, washing dishes, cleaning guns, mixing cocktails, and telling tall tales of Trips, Flies, and Fish gone by!

****