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Texas Fly Fishing Report – Video With Fly Tying Recommendation Ending

| August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fly Fishing in Texas: The Texas Fly Fishing Report Plus Fly Tying Tip for Texas Saltwater

Thanks for coming to the website! I assume a lot of you arrive here because of the YouTube Texas Fly Fishing Report, and maybe just because of today’s report?

As I said, the reports from TPWD are laced with the words “fair” which is worse than “good,” but better than “slow” — all terms TPWD uses to be intentionally vague, and not influence the economies of businesses that rely on these lakes. Keep that in mind. All-in-all, there are a lot more “fairs” and fewer “goods” and the curse word “slow” is starting to creep in across Texas. We all know that happens. That’s why it’s called fishing.

SALT

I am not even too surprised to see those words creeping into the saltwater reports either. Heat, and indeterminate wind patterns make things on the coast a bit tepid. The fish begin to spread out, and seek deeper climes. Again, normal. Take the tide-moon phase right now, and I would say – GO TAKE A NAP instead.

REMEMBER

Please remember a couple of things about the reports I do:

  • Almost all of this is gleaned and then combined in one place – HERE
  • If what you get (on your outing) isn’t close to what’s reported here? You HAVE to tell us so that we can adjust. CALL OUT bad information!
  • I will tell you what I NOW FOR SURE
  • This information is based on conventional fishermen reporting on conventional tactics
  • It is up to us to translate this into fly information – for example … watch the video for a killer saltwater fly sample at the end of this week’s video

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE – Local Fly Fishing Scene Heats up Again

What I know about the water I guide on FOR SURE is that there are tons of catfish (heat resistant) on the flats at Lake Ray Roberts. I was out scouting yesterday, and besides the information that follows, I caught a twisted up three-pound slimeball on a black/black Clouser while prospecting for early bass.

SPEAKING OF BASS

All size bass are roving the flats right now! It’s more a matter of the lack of a winter (in my opinion), than the environment – I think their internal clocks are set ahead by about six weeks! I see yearlings in schools marauding, and see good size bass prowling solo. They’re hard to spot, but easy to catch, and will take the time to pursue the smallest fly if it looks worthy.

And of carp? Here is what I think is happening, with the gift of the most abundant carp population in ten years, there’s another edge to the sword. These fish came in, spawned and relaxed, then ate / cleared all (and I MEAL ALL) that grassy vegetation that lined the bottom of flats like Lantana Flats. Once that food was gone, it also coincided with the heat coming on – just a coincidence really.

SO, the fish would come up and look around when it was cool, looking for that grass they like. And, when they found little to none, they would drop off again for the day’s heat.

WELL, that vegetation has grown back! And they’re already back mowing it down en masse. Yesterday, Thursday, August 3, I saw those early season carp’n chains (plays in my imagination as “tarpon chains”), feeders are everywhere, but they are retracing their early behaviors as well – skittish and easily spooked. The numbers are very, very good right now. I also believe the break in the heat helps, but consider the fact that as I was idling in to the cove, there was that telltale grass floating (after being mowed by carp) everywhere — just as in spring / early summer.

So I think we are going to have another valhalla that goes from now until they get it all mowed down again. I believe carp will endure the heat for the eat. But once the eat is gone, they’ll be off again too. Allez bon ton roule.

PS – The YouTube Video for this report contains a recommended Texas saltwater fly that should be very hot right now – based on conventional reports.

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.

BRIDGEPORT

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.

TALKING CLIENTS DOWN

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 …

Lake Athens Tournament Roundup PLUS How to DIY This East Texas Lake

| April 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

lake athens texas fly fishing tournament Johnny Martinez

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Heck of a deal. That’s all I could say – but not all I will say, of course.

I didn’t make it there on Friday to take part in the sunfish event that took place on Friday, but after the monster bluegill I caught Saturday? I wish I were focused on those power-packed little sunfish on a more regular basis. Ounce-for-ounce, they’re hard to beat, and the one I caught Saturday was bigger than my hand – the biggest I have ever caught.

The Lake Athens Event – Women Steal the Bass Show!

Saturday was the bass event, and it was quite simple; big bass wins. In event of a tie, which will probably never happen, the number of total inches of fish caught would be the tiebreaker. My 12” and the 16” fish I took did no good against the eventual winner at 22”. I don’t know how much math readers do, but that is a GOOD fish.

The Athens event is fun at the size it is now, but I can almost guarantee you it will get bigger for many years ahead. The only thing I would think to do differently is actually start adding to the “winners” by having more places besides only first (how capitalistic is that!), and also add another category that keeps us on the water longer: a “most inches” category starting at 12” fish measured and up from there (less than 12” don’t count).

This event was started by Johnny Martinez of Johnny on the Fly guiding fame, and Johnny definitely qualifies as one of the “nice guys” in Texas fly fishing. Running this event solo, is a feat, but to have it come off so well is pretty amazing.

HOW TO CATCH on FLY AT LAKE ATHENS

First, let me say without any qualifications – DON’T BOTHER TO FLY FISH THERE ON THE WEEKEND! When I arrived, just before first light, the hooya bass boaters (with all due respect) were lined up for a hundred yards of idling diesel, metal-flake pulling driveway. So I waited, not in line, but over in the parking lot between the TPWD Texas Freshwater Fishery and the boat launch – apparently the only launch for the entire lake. Granted, at 1799 acres of surface, Lake Athens is a small lake, but this marina does not charge for launch, and everybody everywhere apparently knows it.

On the water, Athens is a very good example of a near East Texas lake. It is (what I call) well aged-in (impounded 1962), with great vegetation and sizable trees overhanging from the lush yards of million-dollar homes that line much of the lake. I found my fish, all of them, along a retaining wall that kept a private golf course from falling in to the lake, yes private, short but private. I didn’t see a single home that was not within my standards of lusting for a lake home, and a lottery win.

Nevertheless, the lake was extremely crowded with the kind of fishermen I have documented in places like Lake Fork – literally following each other around islands in a clockwise direction, respectfully apart, but moving around at the same pace … like a parade in Downtown Denton, except they weren’t throwing the right candy to the fish that day. These guys were mostly all befuddled by the overcast skies that kept them from getting visuals on bass beds, and without any other strategy in their pockets … the parade was lost.

However, as a person who had never fly fished Lake Athens, I can honestly say I was more lost than they were. My strategy was to see the fish, be the fish and catch the fish. However, what I saw was a habitat that is absolutely heaven for bass, but I couldn’t make heads-or-tails of where they were in the habitat that day (grass and lush vegetation with boat houses and trees overhanging the water in yards and in the wild areas) because of conditions. So it became a day of prospecting with different flies, and pulling up and running. I felt very safe running because it’s such a small lake, and the navigation is pretty darn straight forward. This place is tailor made for the skiff, and running around the boat houses and mansions with their trees – with the trolling motor. Once I recognized the need to shift strategies, it became a search for overhanging trees and skipping into boathouses – the tree and brush thing, along with walls, felt a lot like my days on Lake Kiowa; I was very thankful that experience fit this situation.

The winning boat bass inches (Kimberly Panick), did it at the earthen dam, which I had pulled up on as time was running out, but I just had no idea how to go at it (frog fly is/was the answer). My main fly was a black/black Clouser, but I think there would have been equal or greater success with a whistler in black (but I was out of those for some strange reason). I think you would also have luck with topwater flies, but there was enough battle with the wind, that I decided to save my energy and stay off the difficult casting flies in the interest of making it through the day.

Athens is not a walk-wade lake, nor is it a shore fishing lake. So, a boat or kayak are your best bets, even though the launch has only one and about a half ramps to launch from. Time to expand fellas, and feel free to charge something to launch to slow these guys down somewhat! My legs were still swilling Saturday night – from all the boat traffic waves I had to ride out!

What you’ll want to do is:

  • Avoid the weekends at all cost.
  • Get A GUIDE! Johnny Martinez is a good guy and guide. [email protected] / 972-697-7096
  • Take all the typical bass flies and gear up for it – these fish are in top physical condition.
  • Be ready to hit on some monster panfish (sizes of a lifetime) as well. Contact me if you have any more questions.

This is a lake that seems logical to stop the Airstream at and spend some time – about this time next year – to cover the tournament and spend a few weeks guiding on Lake Athens before moving to the next location. So stay tuned next year for that announcement!

THE CONTEST

I definitely like the fact that the standings are updated in real time, as participants use their phones to photograph their fish (with proper ID), and text the images in to the organizers. Simple, and brilliant. Back at the boat launch (there’s no marina), there was plenty of swag from sponsors, door prizes, a raffle, food and beer. Dallas Fly Fishers had a significant presence, and it was good to see Ted Warren from the Lake Fork Bass on the Fly World Championship tournament – set up and selling flies. I can see this tournament growing by leaps-and-bounds if it gets past the bottleneck boat ramps. Otherwise, the facilities are great. I’ll be back there soon – ON A WEEKDAY.

Seeing, and talking to Ted Warren – organizer of the Bass on the Fly World Championship at Lake Fork, gave me an idea. I did tell Ted that I would be ready to spearhead a bass on the fly tournament on Lake Ray Roberts next year, but I didn’t tell him that I thought his tournament, Johnny’s Athens tournament and this new Ray Roberts tournament could benefit from being unified into some kind of “points chase” … a tour championship of sorts. Maybe I’ve been watching too much WFN? I can imagine a No matter what, it’s great to see more tournament opportunities now that I have a skiff to actually be somewhat competitive. By the way, the kayak division sleighed the fish at the Athens tournament.

THE BASS RESULTS

Kayak Division

Lee Kodat Wins both categories.

Most Fish – 5 fish at 68 inches

Biggest – 15.5 in

Big Bass Boat division

Jimmy Smith 22 inches

Most Boat Bass

Tied on count.

Tie broken by overall inches.

Kimberly Panick 6 fish 96 inches

Janet Baca  6 fish 77 inches

List of Texas Cooling Lakes for a Winter Warmer

| December 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

generation lakes power plant lakes texas #flyfishing

Monticello Power Plant Lake Monticello

Lake Monticello fly fishing trip in 2013. Looks like a modern fossil to me …

POWER LAKES

It’s Water Wednesday! Rather than talk about the impending doomsday scenario from a leaking Lewisville Lake Dam, I think we will take a trip to the brighter side of Texas winter fishing by running down a newly found/assembled list of Texas cooling lakes. If you are unfamiliar with a “cooling” lake, there are several names these water anomalies go by. Generation lakes, power plant lakes … all describe lakes that circulate cool water into coal power plants (curse them), and then release that warm water to the benefit of the fish and fishermen (like me) jonesin’ for a wintertime fix. I’ve seen shows, videos and photographs of guys catching bass in fog (beware of fog) with snow coming down … as happy as little school girls.

It’s never as easy as, “It’s cold, so they must be generating!” when it comes to figuring out whether these lakes and their power plants are doing what we need them to do to warm up our fishing opportunities. This is all about the unpredictable ebb and flow of the Texas power grid. Often times, according to what I have read, more generation happens in summer than winter, as Texas is gripped by heatwaves. As far as I know, none of our power makes that National Power Grid (Just started reading Ted Koppel’s book though – “Lights Out”).

For me, there is one very good, overarching reason to try and hit these power lakes AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I believe there will come a time when these lakes no longer are POWER LAKES. Coal is as dead as fossil now, and no single Republican will be able to bring that fuel back to life – ever. So as coal is buried, and other sources take hold, I can only imagine these lakes will recess into the memories of those who experienced them – Better Now Than Never, right?

I was dinking around on the message boards (Texas Fishing Forums) the other day, and threw out the question about al “list” of Texas cooling lakes, and promptly got smacked with a private message, smacked with logic that is, saying I should google it and / or look for that list on the Texas Parks & Wildlife website. And, of course there it was. So for my subscribers, here is your list of cooling lakes in Texas, and links to more information on these lakes. The only one I have done is Monticello, and that is a boat necessary run, unless you are willing to paddle a long way on a single-shot day.

 

 

bass lake monticello texas

Typical Lake Monticello bass – from my 2013 story on that lake.

LIST OF TEXAS POWER LAKES 2015 + Fly Fishing Records for these POWER LAKES

Believe it or not, there are about twenty lakes classified as cooling lakes (for power plants) in Texas. That number alone is pretty staggering. The mileage is measured from Denton, Texas.

 

Martin Creek Lake
Three Hour Drive east on I20 past Tyler
NO FLY RECORDS

Lake Fairfield
Two Hour Drive – not worth it

Lake Welsh
2.5 Hour Drive due east on 380 near Mt. Pleasant (130 miles)
LMB Record – 3.87

Lake Bastrop
5 hour drive
LMB – 5.3
Common Carp 1.0

Lake Monticello
2.5 Hour Drive due east on 380 near Mt. Pleasant (130 miles)
NO FLY RECORDS

Fayette County
10 miles east of La Grange (270 miles)
NO FLY RECORDS

Lake Calaveras
250 Miles – 10 miles south of San Antonio
Redfish – 12

Braunig Lake
260 Miles – 20 miles south of San Antonio
NO FLY RECORDS

Coleto Creek
15 miles southwest of Victoria – 326 miles six hours
LMB 2.25

Decker (Walter E. Long)
East of Austin 260 miles
LMB – 2.2
*Lots of Palmetto bass stocking here

Gibbons Creek
210 miles 3.5 hours
*Tilapia

Graham
West 92 miles Use 380
NO FLY RECORDS
Hybrid stockings

Brandy Branch
175 Miles – I20
NO FLY RECORDS

Squaw Creek – Glen Rose
80 miles via US377
Blue Tilapia is only fly record

SOURCE – http://www.tpwmagazine.com/archive/2013/mar/ed_1_powerplantlakes/

 

I was watching my favorite conventional fishing show the other day, “Honey Hole,” and the host made a point about the bass you’ll find on these lakes. He said their metabolism runs all the time, so the fish (bass) don’t live as long, and therefore don’t get as big. I thought that was an interesting tidbit.

 

Fly Tying is a Video Game

| December 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

fly fishing fly tying video game mind body soul #flyfishing

Body Mind Soul Fly Fishing
Is the art of tying flies the equivalent of a video game? I believe, perhaps it is. I also think you would benefit by thinking of it as a, as your, video game too. Here’s why …

I was watching a show today on how surgeons are using video games to warm up for surgery, games like Madden football and those games that show up on a 3D plane on a flat TV screen. A particular surgeon took the concept to the limit by training young surgeons, and students in surgery fields on video games as a warmup for their procedures.

Many of us take for granted the physical hand-eye coordination we bring to the art of fly fishing, particularly casting and fishing, but the truth is some have more, and some less, “ability” we bring to this game – a game that relies heavily on hands, eyes, body and mind – all working in coordination. Another bittersweet truth is that as we age, or face physical setbacks, one or more of the needed ingredients (hands, eyes, body or mind) can wane.

There are a couple of ways I “tune” myself and am re-tuning myself now, for the strong yet sensitive activity of fly fishing – at waterside. The two ways we’re talking about today are by tying flies and (in the spring) by practicing small before going big. I consider these the highest priority as long as our bodies are following along as they should.

FLY TYING is OUR VIDEO GAME

You’ve heard it here before: FEEL FREE TO THINK. Fly tying is a great calisthenic for those of us who need to edge our way back into the groove of actual fly fishing – at water’s edge. Why?

Fly tying is our video game because it takes us into another world, of course related directly to our ultimate goals (unlike modern games), but still a video game. We use our imagination, or set plays, to create a successful imitation of reality that we believe will give us our best chance to score and even WIN against our adversary.

In the best of fly tying sessions, we are at once present at the vise, and miles away … thinking about how this fly will work at the water the fly is intended for.

And one other added benefit of tying flies is the revival of our dormant (in my case), or simply slightly rusty, hand-eye coordination. I have made a habit of fly tying within 24-48 hours of departing for a fly fishing destination – almost as a rule. It helps me limber up my fingers for tying knots on leaders, and it helps me tune into the fly that I am tying on when I arrive at the point where the fly meets the water.

PRACTICE SMALL then go BIG

The idea of big and small is subjective of course. However, my idea of practicing small is when (the season allows) I am able to practice on, say, carp, before I go to big saltwater and have to nail a cast to a redfish at fifty feet. If you ask me, I will tell you carp are much more difficult than redfish, and that’s what makes them a great tuneup for sight casting – for anything here in Texas. I have yet to go from carp to bonefish or other notorious saltwater species, permit come to mind, but when I do get the chance for those gamefish, you can bet I will try and tune up on carp first.

Even the sensitive attention we pay to freshwater trout fly fishing can be a warmup for other bigger game. It’s about regaining focus, really. A Navajo Quality Water trout puffing on a size 22, is frustrating, but it also teaches timing and focus (on that tiny strike indicator). Go from there to striper below your favorite lake, and I believe you will catch more striper that may be just ticking on your fly some particular cold morning.

SEASON SETS IN

December 21 is the first day of winter. I always love this day, but not because it signifies my least favorite season – winter. I love it because it is the shortest day of our year here in North America. From December 22 on, the days get longer, colder for awhile, but longer. Spring. My hopes, eternal.

The fly shop man cave is slowly getting cleared of the flotsam and jetsam of six months forever lost … and I look forward to 2016 as a better year than 2015. It won’t take much to accomplish that goal. More on all this tomorrow – along the Monday Morning Sidewalk!