Featured Fly Tyer: Nick Vlahos A.K.A. SandBarFlies

Featured Fly Tyer: Nick Vlahos A.K.A. SandBarFlies thumbnail

Nick Vlahos a.k.a. Sandbar Flies is a Lousiana-born fly designer and commercial tyer. Now famous for his signature pattern, “The Sandbar Crab”, we decided to catch up with Nick to talk Redfish, fly design and where he takes inspiration from when creating new patterns.

Flylords: When did you tie your first fly? What pattern was it?

Nick: I picked up fly fishing in middle school when my family moved to Alpharetta, GA but didn’t pick up fly tying until college at Louisiana State University.  I was targeting redfish and speckled trout while in Louisiana and so the first fly I learned how to tie was a Clouser Minnow.  

Flylords: What was the first fish you caught on your own tie?

Nick: The first fish I caught on my own fly was a speckled trout off my kayak in Destin, Florida.  It was sight fished over a grass flat in a foot of water.

Flylords: What is your favorite pattern to tie these days?

Nick: Just depends on the day. Lately, I have really been enjoying tying shark tube flies. I’ve also been tying up a bunch of Mantis/Ghost Shrimp using fake fingernails. 

Flylords: What draws you to fly tying and fly design?

Nick: Fly tying is challenging! If i’m not being challenged then I’m not learning, if i’m not learning I become bored.  There are moments when I’m laying down in bed and an idea pops up in my head. So I’ll get up and go sit at the vise at 2am and tie the fly so I don’t forget when I wake up the next morning.  The fact that you the tyer have the ability to manipulate each and every part of the process from the hook size, thread size, weight, color of the fly, movement of the fly, etc… it’s all controlled by what the tyer wants to imitate. When I’m not tying orders I really enjoy going outside of my comfort zone as a tyer and learning new techniques that say freshwater tyers use that saltwater tyers don’t. I can then take those new to me techniques and incorporate them into new designs.  

Flylords: What is your process while designing and testing a new pattern?

Nick: I first decide whether or not I want the fly to ride hook point up (if fished over grass or oyster shell bottom) or hook point down (deep water or over sand).  Next comes the weight of the fly depending on the depth of water and how far out you can spot the fish. For instance, if you are fly fishing for Louisiana redfish in 3 ft of muddy water over an oyster bottom, you might not notice the fish until he is within 10 feet of the boat and cruising along the bottom.  You want that fly to sink quickly and hook point up to not snag an oyster and/or dull the hook point. 

I try to match the size of the fly with the size of the bait in the water. Color of the fly will be based on water clarity or color of the bottom. 

Flylords: When did you realize that fly tying was a professional aspiration for you?

Nick: I had no idea that it would end up being such a large part of my life. Making a living from something I love to do is something I don’t take for granted.  I lost my Mom to brain cancer in October of 2018 and her advice to me was to do what I love. She was a Registered Nurse. Even on her sickest days she would tell me how much she missed her job and would still be working if she was healthy enough.  I’ll keep tying as long as it makes me happy.

Flylords: Do you customize any patterns for specific fishing regions?

Nick: Yes indeed. Half of my time is spent in south Louisiana and the other half in Destin, Florida. The Sandbar Mullet and LouisiAnimal are designed for the Gulf Coast especially Louisiana bull redfish. The Marbled Sand Flea is designed for pompano along the Florida Panhandle but has been fished for corbina in southern California all the to Maine for striped bass.

Flylords: Do you have any advice for new tyers or anglers looking to pick it up?

Nick: First step is to buy a good vise. Buy once, cry once. Second step is to buy material for just a couple proven patterns and master them. Consistency is key. Watch youtube videos, attend fly-tying classes. The third step is to catch a fish on a fly you tied. Catching that first fish on a fly I personally tied was an amazing feeling and one I hope all fly fishermen get to experience. 

Flylords: How do you photograph your flies? What’s your camera setup?

Nick: Mostly just Iphone pics and a mirrorless Sony NEX. 

Flylords: How many species do you think have been landed on your patterns?

Nick: I wish I knew! The most I’ve personally landed in one day was 14 different species on a November day in Louisiana. The pattern that has caught the most species has to be the Marbled Sand Flea. From Florida Snook to Louisiana Redfish and California Corbina, it’s definitely my most versatile pattern. 

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about some of the non-traditional materials you use to tie your flies? How did you get inspired to use fake nails as crab shells?

Nick: I wanted a realistic sand flea/mole crab pattern and the use of fake fingernails just seemed like the perfect material to get the job done to create the Hardshell Sand Flea.  The fake fingernail can be easily trimmed to size and colored with epoxy or marker. I’ve since incorporated the fake fingernail into the Mantis/Ghost Shrimp pattern. The flexible straws have also been something I’ve been using a lot lately with the Sandbar Shrimp and Hardshell Crawfish patterns. 

Flylords: Where can people purchase your patterns?

Nick: All of my personal hand-tied flies are available at SandBarFlies.com.  A few of my patterns are available commercially through Fulling Mill and are sold at many Orvis stores and other select fly fishing stores across the country.

Flylords: What is next for you in 2019?

Nick: Every fall guides from around the country will travel to Louisiana for bull redfish and that makes up most of my fall and winter orders.  Besides that I’ll continue to design more flies and make more step by step tutorials. Besides fly tying I’ll be chasing tarpon, cobia, and pompano on Louisiana sandbars. 

Continue reading “Featured Fly Tyer: Nick Vlahos A.K.A. SandBarFlies”

Fly Fishing Podcasts Worth Listening To, part XI

Fly Fishing Podcasts Worth Listening To, part XI thumbnail

Through conversations in the real world and online, I’ve come to the conclusion that podcasts appeal to a wider range of age demographics than any other medium. While not a hard and fast rule, written articles and videos seem to have audiences that fall on one end of the spectrum.

It might be the fact that any kind of device makes accessing podcasts relatively simple. It could also be that simply hearing someone talk is an easy point of contact, or that even passive listening still communicates information.

Ultimately, I believe there is a real oral tradition within fly fishing. Not to downplay literature or art, but the spoken word reflects the spur of the moment on-stream, campfire, or drive home discussions that makes fly fishing what it is. That is something anyone at any age can appreciate.

Here are five episodes from five fly fishing podcasts that I think are worth your time:

Continue reading “Fly Fishing Podcasts Worth Listening To, part XI”

ExoRibbon: Brand New Genetically Engineered Ribbontail from BioSpawn Lures

ExoRibbon: Brand New Genetically Engineered Ribbontail from BioSpawn Lures thumbnail

Meet the ExoRibbon – Brand New Genetically Engineered Ribbontail, from BioSpawn Lures

As one of the first baits ever created for BioSpawn Lures, the ExoStick has always been a classic. After years of strong sales and anglers clamoring for more… BioSpawn decided it was time to release their take on another classic bait. Introducing the BioSpawn ExoRibbon. The same tested, fish catching body profile of the ExoStick… complemented with a thin curled ‘S’ shaped tail.

This ExoRibbon tail is unique and differentiated for both anglers and fish. Instead of going with the usual curl you see on most ribbon tail worms, the ExoRibbon took its design from the “S” in the BioSpawn logo design. After experimenting and testing different designs, found that this shape actually created a different fluttering action. The flutter created by the tail of the ExoRibbon looks just as good whether the bait is moving vertical or horizontal.

“A bait like this has probably caught more bass than any other bait in the history of bass fishing. The Exoskeleton ribbed body pushes a ton of water, gets those bass to really feel it. ribbon tail is going to give you a ton of action on every twitch. Classic bass catching lure with a little different take from BioSpawn,” says Seth Feider, Elite Series Angler and BioSpawn Pro.

A ribbon tail worm is easily one of the most well known and widely used soft plastic bass baits on the market and it has been for many years. From pond hopping to big-time tournaments, ribbon tail worms are almost always a great option. Typically Texas rigged with a bullet weight, this bait can be fished in nearly any conditions and at any depth. As new techniques continue to develop anglers sometimes forget how effective these classic baits. Keep an eye on the BioSpawn Instagram account to see the big fish this bait is catching this Fall in the hands of anglers across the country.

BioSpawn will also be releasing a 10-inch variation in the next month.

To stay up to date on Seth’s season, follow him on Facebook and Instagram at @SethFeiderFishing.

new biospawn exoribbon Payne OutdoorsAbout BioSpawn Lures

Genetically engineered baits from BioSpawn Lures have been filling the boat for anglers for years, and the lineup is only growing even more! Creatures avoid predators by adapting to their surroundings and developing new defenses. BioSpawn creates artificial life-forms with attributes that stimulate predators to strike. Fine tuning everything from the ‘S’ shaped tail on the ExoRibbon to the precise amount of sections on the ExoStick, no detail is overlooked when creating the soft plastics in BioSpawn’s lineup. Press inquiries, please contact Eli Rosenberg, eli.rosenberg@catchco.com

About The Catch Company

The Catch Company is on a mission to help everyone “Explore Your Passion.” Our goal is for every Angler in America to fall in love with one of our brands. We have a unique approach to commerce and community to feed anglers’ endless appetite for product innovation, experimentation, discovery, learning, nature, and of course…fishing!

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Clear Water Tactics For Foolin’ Fall Fatties

Clear Water Tactics For Foolin’ Fall Fatties thumbnail

When conditions are right, deep, clear lakes offer typical shallow-water action for bass in the fall.

However, fall’s constantly changing weather can cause bass to quickly advance to or retreat from the shallows. The changing weather conditions can frustrate anglers who depend on a “here today, gone tomorrow” pattern for catching bass in thin water. For more consistent action on clear lakes, savvy anglers probe deeper water throughout the fall.

The depth of bass on clear lakes during the fall depends on the thermocline. On some clear-water reservoirs the thermocline will be 22 to 32 feet deep when the water starts to cool. In early fall baitfish start bunching up in the thermocline before migrating into the creeks. Once the baitfish congregate on the main lake, bass also start grouping up and become easier to locate.

Keying on a creek or river channel also helps pinpoint bass during early autumn. An ideal spot is a point where there is a feeder creek on one side and the main channel on the other side so there is good depth on both sides of the point.

Bass on the points hug the bottom near break lines or move out into open water and suspend. If baitfish are also suspended in the open water, you can get into some fast action when the bass go into a feeding frenzy. Clear-water experts rely heavily on their electronics to catch both suspending and bottom-hugging bass from the deep. Manually setting the sensitivity of their sonar units allows them to detect their lures and fish movement. They can drop a plastic grub or spoon down to the fish and watch their screen for bass streaking up to the lure.

Fall Fishing Clear Water

This vertical fishing tactic works best on bright, bluebird sky days. In the morning you can start with a topwater lure and look for surface activity along main lake points and channel swings. Once the surface action ceases, you can break out the spinning tackle and drop a 4-inch finesse worm on a 3/16- or 1/4-ounce darter jighead to the suspended fish. A curly-tail 4-inch plastic grub is another productive lure to vertical jig for suspended bass.
Suspended bass usually require some coaxing to entice them to bite. Try shaking the worm about 4 to 5 feet above the fish by popping your rod about 2 to 3 inches and then let it sit for a second before shaking the worm again. The shaking worm imitates the darting action of a small shad. You can also raise your rod tip a couple of feet and let the lure fall to entice bass into biting. When vertical jigging with the plastic grub, frequently lift your rod tip about 6 to 8 inches to help you detect strikes from bass suspended deeper in the water column.

Another effective lure for suspended bass is a jigging spoon. You can catch bass a lot faster with a spoon if you find more aggressive fish. A 3/4-ounce slab spoon in chrome or white presented on 15-pound test line works best in the clear water.

Fall Fishing Clear Water

Drop your spoon below the schools of shad you see on your electronics and then jerk your rod up about 3 or 4 feet at a time. Watch your line closely as you let the spoon drop because most of the time bass will hit the spoon on the fall. If the line stops falling and you see a slight twitch in the line, set the hook because a bass has inhaled the spoon. Jerking the rod during the retrieve also allows you to set the hook even if you miss seeing the strike.
When suspended bass ignore your offerings try a bottom-bouncing tactic to catch deep bass on points and flats. Select a 3/4-ounce football jig tipped with a twin-tail plastic grub or a plastic craw and steadily drag the lure along the bottom. The jig bouncing along the bottom imitates the crawling action of a crawfish, another favorite forage of bass in the fall.

Fall Fishing Clear Water

As shad migrate to the creeks later in autumn, bass suspend under the baitfish in the middle of the creeks at depths ranging from 10 to 25 feet. A 3/4-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willowleaf blades is a good choice for catching these suspended fish.

When you spot a large school of baitfish flicking on the surface, make a long cast and let your spinnerbait flutter right through the shad. The spinnerbait will bounce off the backs of the shad and when the lure stops bumping the baitfish, start retrieving it in a yo-yo fashion by pumping up your rod and reeling in the slack. Slow-rolling the spinnerbait just under the shad balls also catches quality bass in the creeks. If bass ignore your spinnerbait, try yo-yoing a smaller tailspinner through the baitfish.


7 Lures Walleye Anglers Can Depend On All Year

7 Lures Walleye Anglers Can Depend On All Year thumbnail

Walleye anglers target fish using different methods, at different times, in different depths and with so many fishing styles and options available, selecting the right bait can be overwhelming. Whether you’re new to fishing for Walleye or just brushing up effective tactics, here are seven Walleye baits that you can rely on all year long.

Jigs

Jigs may be the champ of the “year-round bait” category for fishing walleye. Jigs tipped with plastics or live bait will catch Walleye in almost any water condition or temperature. Jigs work in the grass, near rocks or wood, and even in open water. The simple design and easy to use nature of walleye jigs make them a popular choice for virtually any angler. During the springtime try hopping a jig and minnow along steep rocky banks. In the summer months, thread on a paddle tail swimbait on your jig and target shoreline grasses or offshore humps. The bottom line is that no matter the cover, depth, or season – jigs can produce bites.

Jerkbait

Jerkbaits are multi-species killers but will work especially crush Walleye in the early spring. Try trolling larger profile crankbaits during the spring months as fish continue to push shallow before the spawn. In the early spring and late fall, slender profiled jerkbaits with flat sides and a subtle wobble reign supreme. As the water warms, moving to baits with wider wobbles and more aggressive retrieves will keep the fish biting. Once they go deep.

Harness

Harness rigging for Walleye is tactic anglers utilize when fish are more spread out. Covering water with crawler harness baits allows you to pick off roaming walleye. Finding the right boat speed is key in getting dialed on a hot harness bite. Once you get bit it’s important to remember what speed you were moving at in order to help replicate the process over again.

Jigging Rap

Jigging Rap style baits are often thought as an ice fishing deal however, these things are also deadly in the open water season too. With electronic graphs and mapping, functions continue to advance many anglers spend as much time (if not more) looking at their graph than they actually do fishing. Once an angler marks a fish using their electronics a jigging rap is a good bait to pick up first. The denseness of a jigging rap allows for a quick fall rate on the way down and erratic darting action when jigged. Being able to drop down and present vertically to a fish you’ve marked is a highly effective way to catch hungry walleye and there are few lure options better than a jigging rap.

Float

Rod-N-Bobbs Duz-it-All Weighted Slip Bobber

Floats, bobbers, corks, strike indicators or whatever you want to call them… The things that help you suspend a bait at a specific target depth while also floating on the water surfaces to help indicate bites. One of the most effective ways to catch Walleye is with live bait under a float rig. Minnows in the spring, leeches in the summer, worms in the late summer a finally jumbo minnows after that. Match your offering as closely as possible to what the Walleye in your lake or river are feeding on and you’ll see bobbers dropping in no time.

Soft Plastic Swimbaits

Swimbaits provide walleye anglers with precise action and diving depth allowing them to choose how, when, and where to effectively fish these realistic baits. Typically a casting tool, swimbaits paired with a well-balanced jig head help anglers cover water with a presentation that seems to yield larger fish. Make long casts with a swimbait and let the bait fall to the desired swimming depth while keeping an eye on your line as the bait pendulums down the water column. Usually, a slow and steady retrieve will do the trick but you can impart quick rips or jig strokes to help create a reaction strike out of nearby fish.

Lipless Crankbaits

The key to lipless crankbaits effectiveness is that they can be fished in both shallow and deep water. This is also what makes them effective Walleye lures year-round. In the spring, pre-spawn walleye will be plumb, angry, and easy to fool. This is the time of year you’ll want to make sure to have a lipless crankbait. In summer, they are an excellent tool to cover water and target schooling fish. They are also easy to fish through grass, and stumps as well as open water.

The 3 Easiest Set-Ups For Bottom Rigging Live Bait

The 3 Easiest Set-Ups For Bottom Rigging Live Bait thumbnail

I love all things fishing, whether it’s chasing smallmouth in the spring, muskies in the fall, or slab crappie through the ice – it’s all good to me.

Growing up just outside of Chicago my early fishing experiences were fishing local rivers and ponds where I mainly targeted drum, carp, and catfish. As I got older my fishing interests changed and I began to focus on more mainstream species like bass and panfish, musky, and northern pike. Gearing up with technique-specific rods and flashy artificial rigs became my new preferred method as I distanced myself from natural bait rig fishing.

I still love chasing ”sport” fish with artificial methods, however, I’ve recently started to rekindle my relationship with live bait rigging.

Sometimes I just want to feel the tug from a fighting fish regardless of species and other times I just feel like sitting comfortably and enjoying time outside, live bait bottom rigging helps me do both of these things.

Here are three live bait rigs that I like to run. Each rig is a user-friendly set-up with gear that you can find at any Walmart or local tackle store.

Night crawlers will always be the best livebait but I have also fished successfully with minnows, crickets, shirmp, leeches, waxworms, redworms, bluegill, smelt, suckers, cutbait, crawfish and chicken livers as bait.

Simple Split Shot Rig

A split shot weight pinched a foot or so above a fishing hook is as simple as simple gets. Stop at any Walmart, tackle-shop, or gas station in Wisconsin and you should be able to find the essentials to make this little rig work. The beauty is how cheap and easy this little rig is.

Start off by tying a hook to your line by using any strong knot. Then, simply pinch a couple split sinkers roughly 6-14 inches above your hook. Using a set of pliers to secure each split shot tightly to your line will help prevent weights from sliding around. Use lightweight rigs with longer leaders in shallow water with light current and add heavier weight and shorter leaders when fishing in deeper water or faster current.

Slip Sinker Rig

live bait rig

Arguably the most popular of the three, the slip sinker rig is easy to use, highly effective, and it doesn’t take much tackle or experience to complete. Start off by sliding a egg sinker or bullet weight up your line. Follow that with a small bead or bobber stop. Putting a bead or bobber stop between your swivel and weight will protect your knot from being damaged when the weight slides up and down. While the bead is nice and definitely serves a purpose, it’s not completely necessary.

After that, tie on a barrel swivel. The barrel swivel will serve as a stopping point for your weight and bead while also helping prevent line twist. Finally attach leader line to the second line tie on your swivel, and follow that up with your prefered hook.

I almost always use braided main line and fluorocarbon or monofilament as my leader. Using heavier main line (braid) compared to leader line helps me save part of my rig when getting snagged.

Three Ray Rig

live bait rig

The Three-Way Rig is a live bait fishing technique that is very popular among river anglers. If you’ve never seen a three-way swivel, they’re exactly what they sound like, a pyramid-shaped swivel with three-line tie points.

To rig- Tie one end to your mainline. The other two line ties are for your weight each needing an individual leader. Use shorter leaders for the fishing weight (8-20 inches) and a longer leader for your hook (14-42 inches). This set up allows for your weight to sit directly on the bottom while the hook end can sit more freely and naturally in the water column. The three-way rig works well in current because it allows the weight to stay directly on the bottom while the hook is being pushed up higher into the moving current. Some anglers even use floating jig heads to help push their bait up higher. Up north, anglers are commoningly trolling three-way rigs with live bait and artificial lures to target Walleye.


Striper Fishing – A Floating Line Myth. Sunk. 

Striper Fishing – A Floating Line Myth. Sunk.  thumbnail

I see it all the time on internet forums. Someone wants to know what’s the best line to use for striped bass: floating, intermediate, or full sink. They get many responses, and it’s nice that people want to help. Unfortunately, there’s usually some bad information in the mix of suggestions. And it almost always involves a floating line.

There is one frequent flier that dominates the bad advice airspace. It appears so regularly that it commands a gospel-like gravitas. Like any good urban (or in this case, saltwater) legend, it gives the reader permission to believe. Its exact wording is a variation on this theme: “It’s hard to stay in contact with your fly in waves or surf or a rip with a floating line.”

It baffles me. Because I don’t have any trouble maintaining contact with my fly when I’m using a floating line.

So, anglers who use floating lines in the surf can be placed into two groups. Those who have trouble staying in contact with their fly. And those who don’t. One is a dead-end, a self-fulfilling prophecy of you can’t. The other is full of wonder and possibilities. Which group do you want to be in?

Before you answer, I’d like to tell you a couple of stories about fishing in the surf with a floating line.

Last summer, I fished on Block Island twelve hours before Hurricane Arthur hit. Anyone who is familiar with advance hurricane swell in New England knows that the breakers can be impressive. Even so, the waves that night were not what surfers would call gnarly. When I arrived at my spot on the southeast side, the swells were a very manageable three feet, with occasional four-foot sets.

I was fishing a boulder field, and I was mystified by a small group of rocks that kept poking their tops out of the waves. I couldn’t remember them ever being there. In one of those well, duh, moments it dawned on me that those weren’t rocks – it was a school of stripers, seemingly aware of what was approaching, and eating while the eating was good.

On my first cast with the floating line, the sand eel fly settled into a trough just to the right of where I reckoned the bass would be waiting. I hadn’t accounted for the wind, which had been picking up since the afternoon. Still, the line snapped to attention on my first strip, and a couple of minutes later I was releasing a barely sub-legal striper back into the Atlantic. This went on for the better part of an hour; the only reason I stopped was that I didn’t like beaching the fish on the rocks in an exponentially increasing shore break. I hated leaving a school of active feeders, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I tucked the point of my Big Eelie into the hook holder just as the first wave of tropical rain began to tattoo my jacket hood.

Striped bass don’t read internet forums or hang out in breachway parking lots. This fifteen-pounder was part of the school that was feeding in a strong rip. The bait, sand eels, was trapped between the rip and the shore and the stripers were feeding with impunity. It was one of those magic moments (rather, episodes — it lasted close to 90 minutes) where it was a fish on every cast. You guessed it. I was using a floating line.

Flash backward several years. Same island, different wave conditions. Our plan was to fish all night, and the trip started poorly. A ferocious north-northeast blow turned the harbor of refuge in Point Judith into a maelstrom of foam and chop and weeds. The ferry was pitching and rolling even before we cleared the breakwater. Once safely ashore, the normally sheltered Great Salt Pond provided no relief from sustained winds of twenty miles per hour. That banshee howled all night; it’s the only wind I can ever recall that made my ears hurt. One keeper bass was all I could manage. By five in the morning, beaten and bowed, I wearily trudged across the sand to one of the west side beaches for a desperation look-see.

Try to picture what the pre-dawn ocean looked like after nearly twenty-four hours of winds gusting to thirty-five knots. White-capped anarchy comes to my mind. I had no motive other than what-the-hell desperation when I made my first cast into a trough about twenty feet off the beach. Seven casts later, I had landed eight stripers. I had switched over to a full-sink integrated line in the middle of the night, and those first fish were obviously sitting in that trough, or cruising the shore break wash. But when I looked one hundred feet down the beach, I witnessed a scene that every striped bass angler dreams about.

It was an all-out blitz. Sand eels were spraying in desperation, their flanks reflecting the orange of sunrise. Seagulls excitedly chattered overhead, seemingly more stoked about the carnage than I was. And somewhere underneath, there were stripers. Untold numbers of them, rolling on the bait as they gorged themselves on an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

I quickly swapped out the full sink for the floating line and a seven-foot leader. I don’t know how many stripers were in the school. I suspect it was hundreds. They ranged in size from eight to over twenty pounds. The blitz was taking place about sixty feet off the beach, and the wave chop beneath the floating line was substantial. Yet, for two hours it was bass after bass after bass. I caught them on the strip and I caught them on the dead drift. I lost count after the first dozen. The only reason I left is because I had a ferry to catch.

This all began with a question. So let’s close with one: If it’s so hard to stay in contact with a fly in waves with a floating line, how did I manage to catch all those stripers?

For me, the answer is self-evident. Perhaps your answer is still out there, on the water, waiting to be discovered. I encourage you to find it. As an old Rhode Island sharpie once said, “The path of the obvious is perhaps the most difficult path of all to find and unravel, but it is well worth the effort and the results are measurable in pounds not inches.”

Article by North East Fly Fishing Guide Steve Culton, check him online here.

Photo Essay: Stripers in New Hampshire

2019 Cheeky Schoolie Tourney Kicks Off Striper Season

Fall Crappie Fishing Hacks

Fall Crappie Fishing Hacks thumbnail

The season of harvest festivals and the outdoor extravaganza of leaves changing colors is also a special time for crappie anglers.

These fishermen know autumn offers some of the best opportunities to catch aggressive crappie without much competition from fellow anglers. The cool fall weather drops water temperatures and triggers crappie into a feeding frenzy as the fish fatten up for winter. This feeding spree produces some of the best crappie action of the year, but many outdoors men miss the fun because they target the fall hunting seasons.
Let’s take a look at how you can catch fall crappie on lowland and highland reservoirs.

Lowland reservoirs

In early autumn, target stumps 4 to 8 feet deep along river channel drops on the main lake. The most productive tactic for taking crappie along this structure is slow trolling 1/32- to 1/16-ounce jigs with long poles. Main lake flats and points are also good spots to spider rig for early fall crappie.

Lowland reservoir crappie move into the creeks as the water continues to cool in the fall. Fish around any shallow wood cover with a float and 1/32-ounce tube jig combination or jig with an offset spinner. By late fall crappie scattered along the creek banks move out and congregate on flats close to the river channel. You can catch these schooling fish from 3 to 6 feet deep with a slip float and either a minnow or a 1/16-ounce tube jig.

Highland Reservoirs

Sunken brush piles at depths of 20 to 25 feet are the key spots to catch crappie from the clear waters of deep highland reservoirs in early and late fall. Cooler weather triggers a migration of baitfish into the backs of coves and major creeks where crappie follow their forage. Look for these panfish in sunken brush piles close to the creek channels and as the water keeps cooling down key on shallower brush. When fishing the off-color water in the upper creek arms, you can catch crappie as shallow as 2 feet deep in autumn. Minnows, tube jigs or a jig-and-minnow combination work best when the crappie hold in the brush piles. Matching the hatch is a key to the lure selection for clear-water fall crappie. Try natural shad colors for your jigs and make sure your minnows match the same size as the shad crappie are eating during the various stages of autumn.


6 Tips to be More Successful at Fishing High Alpine Lakes

6 Tips to be More Successful at Fishing High Alpine Lakes thumbnail

Tip 1. BEWARE OF YOUR PRESENCE
Believe it or not, fish can hear or sense your presence very well. If you are yelling to your buddy across the lake and there’s a fish right in front of you chances are that fish will most likely spook. Trout also have incredible eyesight so if you’re moving your body around quickly and the fish are relatively close, chances are they will see you and quickly spook.

Tip 2. THROW DRY FLIES
Not only are dry flies way more fun to throw than nymphs, but they are also extremely effective and a great way to single out fish. Who doesn’t love sight fishing especially to sipping trout? I have found that a size 18 or 20 Parachute Adams, Small Ants, Gnats and other terrestrial patterns all work very well. Every lake is different so try different flies and observe the insects hatching and feeding behavior of trout.

Tip 3. MATCH THE HATCH
Often times once you arrive at a lake you will see fish rising, so before you even tie a fly on it’s never a bad idea to watch a couple of fish and look closely to try to figure out exactly what they are eating and replicate it with one of your own flies.

Tip 4. LEAD THE FISH
Like any sight fishing, you always want to try to lead the fish by about 3 to 5 feet. Personally, I like to lead the fish closer to 5 feet then if the fish changes direction I can strip the fly so the fly will intercept the path the fish is swimming or if it’s necessary to recast, I can recast quickly without spooking the fish. Make sure your fly is in line with the direction the fish is swimming and theoretically and hopefully the fish will rise and take your fly.

Tip 5. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE WEATHER
Most often in high altitudes the mornings are sunny with low winds and then after about 12 o clock, clouds will move in and the wind will pick up, the earlier you can be at the lake the better, once the clouds roll in and the wind picks up, dry fly fishing will become extremely difficult and almost impossible to achieve. Trust me it’s all about fishing dries in the high country.

If your above tree line and the sky gets cloudy and you hear thunder, or see lightning get to tree line ASAP, you do not want to be above treeline waving a 9-foot graphite rod when a thunderstorm hits, this will happen pretty much at least once every single day in the mountains.

Tip 6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH
In most cases, the lakes with longest hikes or hardest climbs are usually most productive. Overnight hikes are very common in getting to those harder to get to/more remote places that will hold more fish and especially more fish willing to eat flies. Its also never a bad idea to ask someone at the local fly shop in the area what lakes have been fishing well and go from there. However, it is never a bad idea to explore a lake with zero information on it, who knows you might just find a secret high alpine lake loaded with fish.

Article by Flynn Kenney, check him out on Instagram @fkenney4.

Tips and Tactics for Golden Trout Success

Photo Essay: High Country Gems

YETI Introduces Crossroads Backpack and Crossroads Tote

YETI Introduces Crossroads Backpack and Crossroads Tote thumbnail

YETI, a leading premium outdoor brand, today launched the Crossroads Backpack and the Crossroads Tote, a new line of everyday bags.

The Crossroads Backpack and Crossroads Tote join YETI’s rapidly evolving bags family. YETI’s original collection of bags, including the waterproof Panga™ Duffels and Panga Backpack, were developed for exploring the wild. The Crossroads collection was thoughtfully designed to be durable, comfortable, and more suitable for urban adventures and daily life.

“We already offer premium bags designed to excel in harsh outdoor conditions. But even the world’s most extreme adventurers need something durable and comfortable to keep them organized during their daily commute,” says YETI CEO, Matt Reintjes. “Our Crossroads bags offer YETI’s signature durability and performance, but are designed for your everyday adventure.”

YETI Crossroads Backpack Tote 2
YETI Crossroads Tote 16

Both the Crossroads Backpack and the Crossroads Tote Bag feature built-in laptop and tablet pockets, with shock-absorbing foam to keep your devices protected. A variety of roomy, quick-stash pockets can hold necessities like sunglasses, phones, wallets, or keys. The backpack features two exterior bottle pockets and an articulated back panel and ergonomic shoulder straps for added comfort. The tote includes two interior bottle pockets to protect from dings or spills and a structured bottom for easier packing and unpacking.

YETI Crossroads Backpack Tote 2
YETI Crossroads Backpack 23

The Crossroads Backpack retails for $199.99 and the Crossroads Tote for $169.99. Both are available in Black, Slate Blue, and Charcoal via yeti.com.

For more information regarding the Crossroads Backpack and Crossroads Tote Bag, as well as YETI’s other bag products, please visit yeti.com.

About YETI Holdings, Inc.

YETI is a growing designer, marketer, retailer, and distributor of a variety of innovative, branded, premium products to a wide-ranging customer base. Our mission is to ensure that each YETI product delivers exceptional performance and durability in any environment, whether in the remote wilderness, at the beach, or anywhere else life takes our customers. By consistently delivering high-performing products, we have built a following of engaged brand loyalists throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere, ranging from serious outdoor enthusiasts to individuals who simply value products of uncompromising quality and design. Our relationship with customers continues to thrive and deepen as a result of our innovative new product introductions, expansion and enhancement of existing product families, and multifaceted branding activities.

 

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