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Fall Weather Patterns Bring Sketchy Fly Fishing

| October 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

North Texas Temperatures Swing Fly Fishing Action Sand Bass Hotspot

I had to get out of the house, and take a break from the Finn yesterday. Somebody forgot to tell me what a full-time job it is to raise a cow dog indoors and train him to be at least a little bit civilized. We have a long way to go.

Medical problems with family in Houston and Weslaco, Texas, don’t make the static any less in my attic either. The Clyde story for Drake magazine is in the can, editor approved and endorsed — and that helps clear the charged air. The burden of what I saw in Rockport and Port A did lead me to “put my money where my mouth is” so to speak. I applied for two FEMA photography job openings, one in Houston and the other in Corpus Christi, Texas. Does a 56-year-old white male stand a chance? Hell no, but I just keep trying for some strange reason (you photographer-readers hurry to the .GOV site now and apply!). If you are FEMA connected, how about a little real help here?

I ran a post on the Texas Fishing Forum – Hurricane Harvey on TFF – discussion boards, and guess what? There’s no discussion on the disaster, and as of this writing, not a single comment. I now pause to scratch my head and wonder … Is there something wrong with these folks, or is it me?

It is pretty obvious I am still jazzed by the adrenalin of photojournalism. Heck, I chased a house fire the other day on instinct. And I felt the adrenalin kick in just a little … actually, it felt good to roll back to my professional zero, where my photographic journey began. Why not start over? We do it almost every time we fly fish – on a small and large scale, don’t we? Every cast is a new beginning. Every change of fly starts us casting in the same spot we last casted. One day there are fish, the next they are gone.


For example, yesterday I had to run the boat, and went with a map that had popped up on the website Texas Fishing Forum over the last couple of days. It had pins for sand bass (deep) on Lake Ray Roberts. I went for one pin, and criss-crossed it using my electronics during what should have been sand bass primetime. Winds were near zero, so navigation was incredibly simple just south of a Wolf Island point. Nada.

So to beat the dark I made the run back to the Sanger Boat Ramp to work the submerged road. Low-and-behold, about ten minutes before dark the sand bass appeared in two feet of water and deep in a nearby cove – by the hundreds. Large sand bass every cast. So today, I will be doing a sundowner there (kayakers come join the armada!), and boxing a few of these tasty tacos to feed the family. Text me if you need directions. It is a very short paddle. I have room on board for one.

Reel Recovery TexasCome Saturday? I will be giving back some time to Reel Recovery. I will attend the Glen Rose event to photograph attendees and facilitators all day long Saturday, and if you are involved in any way with Texas Reel Recovery (the National organization expressed disinterest in my photography – to help them with their identity Nationally), I was the receiver of that much-needed service last year, and I appreciate all you facilitators do, your own personal sacrifices to make these events possible. Regardless of the National organization’s response to my photography (I carried the camera last year as a participant and did write a story as well), on the Texas level I did receive many compliments on my work from the Texas folks. See you there.



Texas Fly Fishing Report Summer Winds Down Doldrums Around

| August 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fly Fishing in Texas this week

Thanks again for watching the Texas Fly Fishing Report! Please suggest changes where needed – I won’t complain. I think the audio intro is a bit long-ish.

A hard week on the fly for me – skunked twice. Watch for the details in the video. I was advised to be wary of what I heard (and have been told that many times in the past), and it proved out when it came to Lake Grapevine two days ago.

If you can get to the BP and Rollover Pass, it sounds interesting. But then, I am relying – not on all you readers across the state – but relying on televised reporting and the TPWD fishing reports. I have always had a soft spot for Rollover Pass because there is an incredible amount of movement there. I heard a long time ago they were going to fill that in, but I never heard any more about it? I sure would like to hear from readers, rather than trying to discern second-hand information from the sources I am using. Accuracy is very important to me, so my sources need to be honed and more accountable.

If YOU ARE A GUIDE, feel free to call in your report from wherever you are, and we can record and publish it – as is, unedited and heavily (at my cost) promoted.

Texas Fly Fishing Report – Texoma Striper Action Easy to Find NOW

| July 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Spotlight on Lake Texoma Striper summer action on fly – all you need to know right now!


Lake Texoma Striper on Fly 2017HOT

If you are looking for a break from the heat, don’t head to North Texas! It’s crazy hot here now, and that heat has evacuated the flats where I fish the most – on Lake Ray Roberts.

I just love throwing down definitive words, like “evacuated,” because it triggers a response from lurkers who make it their mission to prove me wrong. They go out, torture themselves, in adverse conditions … and sure enough … they blast the airwaves with their proof of life, and superior abilities. All I can say today; you go boys and girls!

Texoma Striper FishingTexoma striper (August 2013) when guest on board with C.Keating. 


I was off Texoma before the high heat of the North Texas afternoon yesterday. My plans to redeye to the coast were waylaid earlier in the week, when I should have left, for the 800-mile round trip.

There were enough photos of striper on social media outlets, that the seed of chasing the saltwater fish on a North Texas lake seemed the most viable alternative. All I had to do is find these constantly moving fighters. That’s always the rub with Texoma’s striper population.

Dink striper are everywhere – from the release waters below Possum Kingdom lake, the release waters at Texoma’s Denison Dam along the Red River, and by the hundred-thousands on Lake Texoma proper.

Based on my extensive memory banks of fishing history stored here (not in my head), I recalled a time, about this time of year, when the striper “blacked out” the electronics of the boat I was on – along a fairly short area next to, and parallel to the dam.

The great thing about that location, on a lake as huge as Texoma, is that it is close to a boat ramp – right up against the dam at the Lake Texoma Spillway ramp, which costs $5 to use and is operated by the USACE. So bring your fiver and a pen to fill out the envelope!


The first thing you’ll want to know is: If you are hunting striper on Texoma, there are two ways to do it – 1) look for birds (which is inconsistent and seasonal), and, 2) use ELECTRONICS to locate fish. Let’s see … rely on birds or space-age technology? I will take the technology, and watch for birds. Is that the right answer BoB?

If you have never heard the word, “Blackout,” it’s a term for when the imaging on the electronics shows a school of fish so dense that it blacks out the sonar image with a solid mass of fish off the bottom of a lake. I’ve seen a few blackouts, and seeing them on electronics is a lot like when you are playing a video game and you’re headed toward your personal best, or have just beaten your personal best and have one space ship left to blast with. It’s a rush.

I didn’t see any blackouts on my Helix 5DI-SI yesterday, but in talking to guys at the ramp, they were more experienced with the location, and made the call “blackout” within 100-yards of the ramp (location 1 for you!).

What I did see Thursday morning was a slow start that hit speed about 11:30am. At that time I was beginning to see “strands” of fish on the Helix, but the reason I call it a “strand” is because they were (unless I was off to one side or the other) in narrow moving bands along the original river bed in an area from Perot’s to the launch (location 2 for you!). I saw occasional surface push action, given away by the splashing and almost instant appearance of birds.

I moved back along the dam about 10am, and ran electronics in regular sonar, and side-down scan – in multiple lines parallel to the dam. The height of the dam on the lake side gives you an idea that the depth drops off steeply and the fish can be holding up next to the dam to exponentially more depth – just 20-30 yards away from the dam rocks. BEWARE – There are what are called “turnouts” on the dam where piles of rocks were left extended off the dam for the original construction trucks to turn around after dumping their loads (a major structure for smallmouth bass catching by the way).

Since I didn’t see anything on the imaging, I went back to the boat launch area, down-scanned and waited for the fish to come. In a classic whack-a-mole move, as soon as I got to the launch I saw massive topwater action – about 1/2 mile long and 200-yards wide, just off (west) the dam by about 1//4 mile off the dam (location 3 for you!), and that was 11:30am – birds and all. I powered up and chased, but high winds shut down fly casting in the wide open middle lake. In all the action I saw, most of the surface blows looked like dinks. There was one exception and the were closer to the Oklahoma side, and all were big and the size of that school was smaller than the rest (their lip smacks flew a foot in the air). I think that would be what you would want to hit, but I was too far away and the whole thing was happening in seconds.

I caught one dink there with a silver spoon before they went down (and I thought) to hole-up at the dam. I ran the dam again, but still no blackout. It was starting to get hot, and I was running low on fuel, so I decided to get close to the ramp and scan there, but one boat (the one that made that “blackout” call) was on the only school around. So you can ASSUME that the schools are small and tight. And you’ll have to follow them as they move, and they can move FAST.

Here’s my list of tips for striper on fly on Texoma right now:

  • A kayak will do the job
  • Location – Perot’s to the spillway ramp
  • Time – be there at sunup and don’t plan to be there after 3 (unless they are biting of course!)
  • ELECTRONICS – See the Fish
  • Full sinking fly lines
  • Big bait patterns weed out the dinks (flies 5-inches or longer!)
  • Sharp hooks
  • Heavy rods
  • Fluorocarbon leaders – less than 10#? – take you take your chances (straight 15-20)
  • Super fast retrieve
  • Visual – birds and blowups are your only option without electronics
  • Visual – Birds will land and stop onshore BEFORE the fish blow up nearby!
  • Set yourself up ahead of the action – think about waiting (on the spot) for that 11:30am mass off the center of the dam
  • SAFETY FIRST – This is a huge lake that can turn on a dime. Take all precautions and a marine radio
  • Take your kid or a youth who needs to see and catch fish – THIS IS the action they will remember

This pattern includes a water temperature of 84-degrees at the surface (July 20, 2017). I think that as the water heats up further down, that previous pattern – fish below the thermocline, holed-up at the dam – will kick in. You won’t see much, if any, surface action in those temperatures – dinks perhaps.

Good luck! A full day is probably a waste of time, but the evening bite can be good without warning. This is what WAS happening. You tell me what IS happening now!

Friday Fly Fishing Report You Decide

| June 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

Getting into the groove of weekly fishing reports and now Texas Skiff videos as well

YouTube Channel Tops the 1K Mark Today!

I am pacing the Texas Skiff side project, so that video will be released later this weekend or Monday for sure. As I say in the video, time is greatly curtailed – weekend time – for the foreseeable future, unless something unforeseen happens — like hitting 10-thousand subscribers by the Christmas break. Yeah, I threw down the 10K (in the video), but with a hefty goal of two years. Heck it only took ten years to break a thousand subscribers – TODAY. One thing about the bleeding edge? You bleed.

I can certainly see why the cash rich businesses, be they brick-and-mortar fly shops, be they top-shelf clothing peddlers, be they million-selling rod makers … I can CERTAINLY SEE WHY they have not stepped up to YouTube. It’s a real time burner to do it right, and a lot easier to half-ass it more than give it 100% every time.

Who knows? I am guessing something else will come along, and take me to another, as yet unknown, bleeding edge – 360-degree live feed, live broadcasting, who knows what? By the time I figure that edge out, those aforementioned fly fishing organizations will be dropping YouTube videos every day … just hide, you’re good at it, and watch, you’re good at that too …

(Now that we have crested the 1K mark, I fully expect the haters to unsub as soon as they realize the treachery they have released into the world!) – Thanks to you as well! I always appreciate a good pushback.

Where the Buffalo Roam

| June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

buffalo smallmouth on fly

lake bridgeport texas buffalo on fly

I’ll be honest, I know a rarity for a fisherman, and tell you; I don’t really know how the buffalo smallmouth got its name. And with the huge compression of my hourly time starting now, I am going to leave that answer for you to find and report to us here.

What I do know about the great slime buffalo is that their numbers, since I have been aware of them roaming, have grown to extraordinary proportions on Lake Ray Roberts, Texas. And after a foray to Lake Bridgeport yesterday, I can say their numbers there are almost as fantastic as they are in Ray Roberts.


I launched from the public County Park up close to Chico yesterday afternoon, and never started the motor before hitting this Bridgeport Lake TPWD fly record yesterday – just around the corner from the launch. I was hopeful on seeing the numerous mud clouds that this big guy was actually a common carp (a better eater) than a buffalo, but once I had a visual … it was actually a big letdown.

YOU SEE catching a buffalo is a matter of making lightning strike at the point of your fly. First, the fly has to show up at the right depth – dead bottom. Then the fly has to be palatable to the buffalo. Then the buffalo, buffalo smallmouth technically, has to HOOVER your fly. The odds are stacked against you. The wrong depth, too garish a fly, movement, lining the fish, mood — one of these typically steps in to divert the lightning strike. Okay, really they don’t strike light lightning, but you understand what I mean. I am always as surprised as they are when I actually hook a buffalo, it’s that rare.

MAKE NO MISTAKE though, buffalo do have a small window where they do actually “feed” like a fish. I hit that window more than once, and most memorable was a catch of a double-digit buffalo at the release area below Texoma’s Denison Dam – right up against the dam on the Oklahoma side several years back. I wasn’t dealing anything a buffalo would want, but this buffalo was definitely on the feed. I am under the impression they feed around the reproductive cycle for about a week, and if you hit that, you can actually fish for buffalo. That happened to a client last year, and he made lightning strike two times in an afternoon.


For the most part, with the fantastic view from the casting deck, I have to talk clients OUT OF trying to cast for the great buffalo. The time it takes, and the likelihood of a take are so remote, that I encourage us to move on from buffalo hunting to our real objective – common carp. But, if I am out on my own, with no clock watching, I will put some effort into seeing if there’s anything a buffalo will eat.

Buffalo seem uniquely keen in the bottom-feeding fish world. They have these google-eyes that bulge out enough for them to have extraordinary vision. They are constructed in a more vertical fashion with tall flat sides, than the rounder common carp, and have much more of an “arrow look” with a fork tail and a dorsal that seems more trimmed for speed than fluttered for long pauses of hovering and eating.

Those characteristics lead to a fish that often leaves a long trail of a mud cloud and frequent changes in direction. I can’t tell you how many times I have cast at them only to have them change direction while the fly is still on the sink. I’ve never seen them tailing, and until yesterday I had never seen one with a back out of the water. I believe habitat has a lot to do with that.

Another characteristic that sets the buffalo apart is its indifference. This fish does not scare very easily in comparison to common carp. That just ADDS TO the frustration of casting at them, and although you may heighten their awareness, I often times scare them off intentionally – so I don’t have to look at them anymore!

Most of these characteristics play to the strength of the buffalo. Their only weakness is their extraordinary size. It makes them extremely easy targets for the bow fish killers, and that size is what keeps my clients and friends stepping up to the challenge of catching lightning. By the way, those physical characteristics do make for a great fighting fish.

So how can you catch a great buffalo? The first trick is to find them, and know exactly what you’re looking at when you see them. In the water, they appear darker and have distinctive movements. The TAIL IS THE TELL though. The shape of a buffalo’s tail is so different from a common carp that you will quickly learn to spot them if you concentrate on that one characteristic alone.

After that, you just pound them until one of you gives up. Sorry, but that’s the fly fisherman’s honest truth …

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