Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lahontans, The Big "R", Friends and, ...Tequila!

Another fun filled mad dash to Washington State to chase Lahontan Cutthroat Trout left Larry, Doug and Bob wanting to stay for another week. We gambled that the colourful cutthroat would be cruising the shore making sight fishing a lot of fun! Well we did have our fill of sight fishing over the 4 days we fished. We also had a chance to fish in t-shirts (and raincoats) and enjoy spring at its finest! The cherry blossoms were out, tulips were in full bloom, lawns were green and the lahontans were hungry! What a great combination!

It takes 10 hours (almost 1000 km) to get to the lake. We pulled into the parking lot at the Big "R' Fly Shop to get our licence and after a quick stop at the motel, we headed over to the lake. When we arrived, nobody was there and we could see cruising cutthroat as we shook our sore legs out after the long journey. It did not take long to gear up and dash down the sand to the lake. We were indeed excited and it did not take long for all three of us to hook up! 

Larry had not caught a lahontan cutthroat before so this was a new species for him. Lahontans are noted for their beauty and size although they generally do not give a great account of themselves once hooked. No matter, the challenge was to sight fish and present your fly for cruising cutts. As the late afternoon sun shone, we could see the red and golden sides of the cruisers. At times, you had to dash  down the shore and present your balanced leech or damsel several times before you got a take. It is a great challenge at times and at other times real easy. Besides we all needed to stretch our legs out!

The long first day wound down with us eating Mexican and ending the meal with tequila. Now Doug was our scotch connoisseur but he had never tasted tequila. Now that was fun to watch!

The second day started at the Big "R" Fly Shop because it was a rainy one. The Big "R" Fly Shop is well stocked and Doug was overheard heard saying, "Money will be spent!" Fly tying material lined the walls and Larry had a long list of material he needed (wanted?).

Well the rain turned to drizzle and soon enough to sunshine. Back to the lake and lots of hook ups! Brian Chan's baby damsels got a great workout as did balanced flies of various descriptions! We caught several beauties. Of course we ate Mexican again! Great food, ...and tequila!

The third day was cosmic to say the least. We all caught lots of lahontans and several biggies.  Larry played with several combinations of flies and our buddy Rick's special fly with a rainbow bead was a real winner! Me, I just used baby damsels and Doug found a balanced fly that the cutts could not resist.

Day 4, you guessed it started off at the Big R again because we needed more fly tying stuff  (really?) and Bob finally succumbed and bought that Hardy reel he had been eyeing for his spey rod. The drizzle finally stopped and we had an awesome afternoon at the lake. Bob ditched Larry and Doug so he could fish with his Montana/Spokane friends. His buddy Leon even decided to fish with his spey rod. He caught a sizeable lahontan on his first cast. His buddy Claude had never caught a lahontan but that quickly changed with several beauties to hand over the course of the afternoon. We all fished until the sun crept below the mountains and it was time to hit our favourite Mexican restaurant. Hi fives at the door and a tasty meal ending with tequila made for a perfect end of our fishing. Claude gave his tequila to the scotch connoisseur. Yes, two night caps for Doug! Turn out the lights please!

One of Larry's first Lahontans was a beauty!

Doug caught several colourful tanks!

Heading back to the depths!

Colourful lahontans!

Cool release by Doug!

This lahontan wanted to get out of my grasp!

They grow 'em BIG!

Leon using his spey rod, and successfully!

Claude can check lahontans off his bucket list!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spey and Single Handed Casting with Maxwell Robinson

Yesterday my lawn disappeared under a thick blank of snow. I wondered if our spey casting workshop would be a bust for a second year in a row. No way. The 6 club members that signed up wanted to go for it and Max was game to take our group to the next level. Maxwell Robinson is the owner and head guide of BowCrow Fly Fishing Adventures. Max got us started two years ago. He brought all the gear. This year most of us showed up with our own rods and spey lines. 

We had to shovel off a large section of the Little Chief Park grass so we could review the basics and learn some new casts before we stepped into the Red Deer River to practise. 

Max brought several lines so we could match up our fly rods with an appropriate line that also meshed with our casting styles and physique. Max taught us a cast and then we got to try it while the gang gave constructive feedback. It was a great way to get us ready for the river. Everything seemed to make more sense this time. Having some practice on the river after getting the basics two years ago has made us all just a bit better.

Stepping into the river and trying the casts with current and a bit of wind allowed us to choose the right cast to get our line travelling across the river. 

Max is an excellent teacher of spey casting. He easily shows us the skills and better still; he has excellent detection and correction skills. The Red Deer River was running high and muddy but we all wanted to see how our casting had progressed. We all had made progress. I know that several of us had "Ah ha" moments. We got the concept and we were able to apply it!

The day flew by quickly! Well done Max!

Maxwell will be back on May 3rd and 4th do another casting workshop. Saturday May 3rd is a single handed workshop and May 4th is opportunity for private lessons. 

The cost of the private lessons is $40 per hour. Max will do both single handed casting and spey rod casting. Get ahold of Bob to get signed up!

Maxwell Robinson

Rick getting the basics of spey casting!

Practice at the river!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TC Outfitters is Open for Business

TC Outfitters is open for business. Troy Langelaar and his gang have set up shop in the Riverside Industrial Area just south of the 67th Street bridge. The shop is in a very accessible location with the Red Deer River right across the street! I know it has been a dream of Troy's to get his own fly shop up and running. Bob Edens has passed the torch to Troy! I know Troy is "stoked" about this opportunity and he is going to make the best of it!

Drop by the shop and say hello! Troy will endeavour to order anything that he does not presently have at the shop!

You can purchase flies, buy fly lines, tippet and of course all sorts of fly tying material. Troy also can order you just about any rods and reels you want. Take a look at the store window to see the hours he is open! I know TC Outfitters is off to a great start!

Best of luck Troy!

The wall are well stocked will everything you need in fly tying.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bonefishing in the Acklin Islands

Hi Everybody!

Bill Young and I just got back from bonefishing on Acklin Island,  an out island of the Bahamas. We had a great week of bonefishing on the flats. Our trip was organized by Dave Eaton. He did a wonderful job ensuring every detail was taken care of. His expertise and experience helped both Bill and I be totally prepared for our adventure. After taking the Red Eye to Toronto, Bill and I met up with the rest of our gang and headed to Nassau. We overnighted in Nassau and then took a one hour hop over to Acklin Island. There are 3 or 4 lodges on the island although there are lots of flats on this 50 mile long island and we rarely encountered others while fishing. Bonefishing is a sight fishing game, and that is a load of fun.

We dealt with less than perfect conditions all week. We had unusually strong wind in the 20 to 25 mph range and the wind blew from unusual directions which then pushed ocean water onto the flats and caused the flats to be too deep for the bonefish. We did have lots of opportunities to cast to bones, and that is just plain fun yet frustrating when a 25 mph wind is messing with your casting. Yes you have to double haul and do it well! 

We moved into Fedel and Erica's home. Their home is clean and a perfect set up for our week long adventure. Erica cooked our meals and prepared us a lunch! We ate local food like conch, snapper and grouper. All the food was excellent.

Fedel arranged for other guides so we were guided 4 of the 6 days of fishing. All the guides were excellent.

Our day started early with breakfast at 7 a.m. and then off to the flats. We usually called it a day by 5:30 p.m.

The sun is strong and you have to cover up all day. SPF 100 sun screen is a must!

We saw a lot of water in the Acklins. Bill and I loved our adventure although we thought the fishing was a bit slow. The unusual wind was a big factor and the bonefish may have been looking to start spawning! Nobody knows exactly when this really happens. If you go, pay attention to the phases of the moon (tides). 

Bill and I loved to encounter the locals. Island life in the Acklins is very low keyed. One day Bill and I picked up the police chief and drove him to work! He was walking. and hoping for a ride! We had a meal at a restaurant. Now that was a neat experience.

Fresh food is scarce on the island. You have to ensure you have that well organized. Erica was on top of that and we were well taken care of.

Bill and I want to experience more of this kind of fly fishing. It is a completely new experience that we loved. We will be back for more!

Thanks to Dave Eaton for organizing a fabulous trip! Our fellow boneheads included Kelly, Johnny, Paul and of course Dave!

...the pictures are courtesy of Bill and Bob!

Heading into Nassau from Toronto

Off to Acklin Islands

Acklin Island Airport

...about the size of a small bungalow

Driving on the left side of the road can have its challenges!

You see lemon sharks and sting rays every where!

Caught my first bonefish right away. I quickly learned that it is not always that easy!

Flats with mangroves.

The organizer of our trip was Dave Eaton. Thanks to Dave; Bill and I were very well prepared.

Getting ready for the day!

Fedel was the owner of the company that we visited. He is an exceptional guide as well!

Looking for bonefish. It is a sight fishing game all the way!

Bob waiting to cast to a bonefish!

Here they come Bill, get ready!

Bill's first bonefish!

Conch shells. We ate a lot of conch, an island staple!

Bill got this beauty on a flat that had lots of fish around. It was a great day!

We slowly stalked a pod of bones for 20 minutes before Bob got this one.

Not a lot of opportunities on this day but we did take advantage of our chances!

Can you see the bonefish 40 feet from Bill?

This 8 foot bull shark scared me when he was feeding on the same flats I was looking for bonefish! You have to pay attention!

Conch shells with the snails removed.

Blue crab!

Fedel with a nice conch that we ate!

Johnny getting ready to fill up Fedel's truck! Salt air is tough on everything!


We also fished for jacks, snapper, shark and a few other species!

...lizards are everywhere!

Did I mention it was WINDY?

The old mail boat dock!

On the flats looking for bonefish!

Locals playing dominos with Kelly.

Starting the trip home by heading back to Nassau!

A direct flight from Nassau back to Calgary! We had to fly around a few thunderstorms!