A Guide to Flats Fishing with Toddlers

A Guide to Flats Fishing with Toddlers thumbnail

Disclaimer: This article is not about teaching toddlers how to fly fish on the flats… that comes later in life. It’s hard enough taking a toddler spin fishing on the flats for bonefish and redfish. The question is: Can you accept the fact that you will have to give up fly fishing for a little bit in order to create and educate your lifelong fishing companion?

Before my wife and I got proficient at it, the sound of those four words—Flats Fishing with Toddlers—made fishing sound more like a punishment.  Like running a skiff in skinny water, you’ve just got to throttle down, trim her up, and ride the lightning. Luckily for you, there’s water ahead to keep you afloat. With some toy dinosaurs and a lot of snacks, I mean a lot of snacks, it can be done and it can be done effectively. The way I have been able to keep my sanity on my skiff is by creating an adventurous environment and culture.

Critical to this is to also keep an open mind while flats fishing, seek out toddler-friendly fish, use any and all equipment necessary to ease my day on the water with the kids, and the embrace the most important word in fishing: patience. All of these are paramount to catching fish and equally keeping the kids happy on the skiff. Understand, this process does not happen overnight and certain fishing styles will have to be sacrificed for a little bit. If your three-year-old has the discipline to keep watch for fins and shadows and can double haul to a tailing permit this article will be of no use to you.   

I’m Scott Brown, father to a three-year-old boy named Grayton, who is obsessed with dinosaurs and fishing. I also have a three-month-old girl named Chandler, who at the moment just lies in the bottom of the skiff in her life jacket either smiling or scream crying. Luckily, when I’m on the verge of throwing in the towel because a green triceratops is tangled in my fly line I have my wife, who is equally invested in the culture, to help control the chaos and educate my kids properly.

Recently people have taken notice of my son, who just turned three in April, casting a spinning rod very accurately onto the edge of the mangroves and pulling out mangrove snapper. What’s interesting to us is we never taught him how to cast. What we did do is saturate his world with nothing but rods, reels, lures, flies, and just the angling culture in general.

My kids are involved in the entire angling process from scouting for new spots on maps to tying flies, leaders, and even maintaining our skiff. Currently, my son is obsessed with filling his empty tackle box that my friend Nicholas Calabro gave him. All of this feeds into fostering a new and exciting environment for kids that gets the stoke level skyrocketing and leaves them with the mindset to want to learn.

Dress them like they are pro angler. You don’t have to go to your local outfitters and start raining cash on clothes he’s going to grow out of in the next 6 months but remember they want to look and be like you, so if your wearing your SPF 50 long sleeve with board shorts and your favorite Orvis hat then you best believe little man is rocking it also because in their eyes you are the pro. 

Let’s talk tactics… In order to take toddlers flats fishing, you must keep them occupied.  Say goodbye to poling your boat around like a ninja while scanning for shadows on the sand because if there’s a toddler on the boat it’s the equivalent to a “screaming hurricane.” Every kid’s attention span is different, but luckily for me I’ve found that if I have live mullet in the bait well or any type of live bait, my three year old will stay out there all day long with an unlimited amount of snacks, of course, as he goes back and forth between fishing and playing with the baitfish. We naturally break out the umbrella and take a break at our favorite sandbar for lunch and let Grayton play and swim. Unfortunately, that means little to no fly-fishing.  

Every once in a while, Grayton has the patience to let my wife stand up on the casting platform while I pole the flats. This, however, becomes boring for a toddler who would rather tangle up your fly line or stand right underneath you asking if you can get closer to the mangroves because he has learned it equals easy catching mangrove snapper. You have to pick your battles.

I try to use visual fishing techniques; I love using popping corks with mullet. The popping cork gives your kid something to focus on and it blows their mind when some sort of sea monster drags it to the depths. The mullet tends to stay on top of the water and makes for a spectacular show when they try to evade giant redfish and tarpon.

Target fish that are easily caught. You may not be able to sight fish as effectively for bonefish with a toddler in your boat making a racket so instead change it up and chum those fish in with shrimp and use a 2/0 circle hook with a piece of dead shrimp on a knocker rig. It’s easy for a toddler to cast, they can set the pole down in the rod holder, watch the tip of the rod dance and listen to that drag start screaming! They will absolutely never forget the experience. If your exclusively a fly fisher, you may not like or typically use these tactics but remember it’s not about you, it’s about getting your kid stoked on fishing.

What to bring? Let’s talk toddler packing list and flats fishing equipment. In order to sustain some sort of peace and quite, bring an Ungodly amount of snacks. I’m not talking a bag of chips and some cookies. You need every type of bar, chip, fruit…if it’s edible bring it, because like a tarpon cruising the flats in the keys you never know what fly is going to make or break it. With toddlers it’s the exact same thing, you can never have enough snacks or enough variety of snacks.  Yeah, they have their “go-tos,” but sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes your kid is having a mental break down over you not opening the live well so he can see the mullet you pulled in with the cast net, so play it safe and break out that ice cream bar out of the cooler… chances are it could save the day. Speaking of saving the day, no body outranks officer safety.

First thing I thought about when I started taking Grayton on the skiff is how can I make my skiff safer. Wear your emergency shut off leash; you may survive the fall out of the boat but your toddler will not if the vessel continues underway with no one at the helm and crashes. Invest in a comfortable life jacket and make sure your toddler is wearing it properly when underway or fishing in deeper low visibility waters with a current. When we fish the crystal clear flats in the keys, my three-year-old does not wear a life jacket. My wife and I are usually right near him and it’s typically crystal clear and only 1-2 ft deep. He will be doing more walking than swimming if he decides to jump out while staked or anchored. 

A more important note is if you are a weak swimmer or out of shape and aren’t confident you can save your kid in the maritime environment; you should consider sticking to shore… it’s not worth the risk. Just use sound judgment and abide by your state’s watercraft laws and you will be fine.

Trolling motor… go buy one. You need two adults in the skiff if you want to push pole because either your toddler is trying to get up on the poling platform with you or they are going overboard to swim with the fish. The trolling motor gives you the ability to be almost equally as stealthy in shallow water and allows you to teach and supervise your kid while maneuvering the boat in shallow water. A power pole also makes fishing with toddlers a lot easier since you can stake your boat with the push of a button while maintaining attention on your kids. 

Patience and positive reinforcement has to be the most important tool you could use on the skiff and that is why I’m handing the reins over to the subject matter expert: my wife. Patience certainly isn’t an easy thing to come by, especially when your child is having the inevitable breakdown.

We play a lot of ‘I Spy’.  We also talk in whisper voices like everything is a special secret. We see who can find the first starfish or giant hermit crab in the water while dad looks for the fish. When the fit does start up, and boy will it ever, just remember, kids, are not receptive when they are crying. Wait for them to stop crying before even trying to solve the problem.

My go-to is “as soon as you’re done crying I will be happy to help you ‘xyz’”.  It probably won’t work the first time, but they eventually figure it out. Also, remember you change far more behavior by praising the good than punishing the bad. This can range from phrases such as, “I really liked the way you waited for your dad to help you with the lid of the bait well. You are very patient.” To “Good job keeping the rod tip out of the water.” Or “thank you for being a good listener”. It’s all about noticing and celebrating the little victories. Bottom line is: it has resulted in more fish and great times than anything else I can think of.

I hope this perspective gives parents and future parents some useful info and cuts down on the fear of taking your kiddos out on the ocean. Be a responsible mentor for the future generation and enjoy your time with them on the water. I can’t think of any other better place to be able to pass information to receptive minds. There is a lot of history, culture, and lessons to be learned on the water. Teach them what it means to be an angler and a custodian of our waters and nature. Teach them to pick up trash and always leave a place better than when you arrived.

Learn to be patient and accept there will be broken rods, fleeing fish, screaming, crying, mental break downs by both you and your child…the list goes on.  Ultimately, you’re building and investing in a life long fishing buddy and ensuring the next generation is taking care of our environment and natural resources the way it’s supposed to be done. 

Article and photos from Scott Brown and his wife Lindsay Brown. Follow along with the family adventures on Instagram at @push_it_good_inshore or https://pushitgoodinshore.com/.

10 Tips for Fishing with Your Kids

Why My Kids Think Fly Fishing is all Sunshine, Rainbows, and Unicorns

The Tiny Angler

Vests and Deep Water

Vests and Deep Water thumbnail

I had never been fly fishing, but I decided that a fly fishing vest would be a good investment.

In junior high, the multi-pocketed khaki vest certainly didn’t have anything to do with style. Tommy Hilfiger t-shirts, baggy jeans, and puffy white Filas were preferable. As is probably the case with everyone, I must have looked ridiculous. Realistically, wearing the vest was a 50/50 proposition between being stuffed in a locker or setting a trend.

Back then I made the purchase because I was going fishing. Camping, canoeing, and fishing, to be more accurate. I was headed off to central Virginia, to a cabin on the banks of a flooded quarry. At the time I had an enormous tackle box, filled with all manner of conventional lures. Rapala minnows, Berkeley worms, Rooster Tail spinners – everything I’d seen the guys use on Saturday morning TV. Dozens upon dozens of lures, all lined up in a giant Plano; a place for everything and everything in its place. Even as a teenager, bringing that monstrosity onto a small watercraft seemed ridiculous. A vest made sense.

After arriving to the cabin and throwing sleeping bags up on top bunks (teenage boys covet top bunks) we set off to fish. Smallmouth and sunfish were caught from shore. Logically, we thought, bigger smallmouth and sunfish would be caught off in deeper water. Illogically, we left fish to find fish.

Four vessels disembarked. Three with two teenagers, one with an adult. John was in my canoe. He had a penchant for quoting South Park and WWF wrestlers. He also had a monstrous tackle box, which accompanied us in the canoe.

Continue reading “Vests and Deep Water”

15 Fly Fishing Gifts Your Dad Will Love This Fathers Day

15 Fly Fishing Gifts Your Dad Will Love This Fathers Day thumbnail

15 Fly Fishing Gifts Your Dad Will Love This Fathers Day

Well, It’s just about that time of year again where we set aside a day for the man in our lives who taught us some of the most important lessons we never knew we needed to learn. Dads around the world spend the year tirelessly dedicating themselves to bettering and caring for the next generation. Whether you plan on spending this Fathers Day alongside your old man on the water, or simply sitting down with him for a dinner at his favorite restaurant; show him your appreciation by getting a gift that goes above and beyond the typical “#1 Dad mug”.

Here is our list for the top 15 gifts to give the angler in your life this fathers day.

1. Mountain Khakis Trout Webbing Belt

photo courtesy of Mountainkhakis.com

Step aside boring wading belts, the mountain Khaki trout belt is here to make a statement. This Belt is not only 100% American made but is also quick dry and stain resistant. Available in 4 different styles (Brook, Brown, Rainbow, and Cutthroat), dad can match the hatch and represent his favorite catch anywhere he goes. Oh, did we mention the buckle doubles as a bottle opener?

Buy it here

2. Orvis Magnifier Table Lamp

fathers day fly fishing lamp
Photo courtesy of Orvis.com

Whether he’s just starting to tie flies, or already an expert, one thing is for certain: nothing is more strenuous to the eyes than squinting at tiny beads, hooks, and strings for hours on end. Tell Dad to ditch the dollar store reader glasses, and upgrade his fly tying game with a 4x zoom as well as focused 12w natural lamp light to make sure every fly tied comes out store bought quality.

Buy it here

3. Abel TR Click and Pawl Fly Reel

fathers day fly fishing reel
image courtesy of Abelreels.com

While we know Dad’s are generally stuck in their traditions, they may not realize the potential an unrusted, new reel can bring forth. Coming straight from our favorite Reel providers, the Abel Reels TR C&P is one of the most versatile, and affordable high-end reels on the market. Made in the USA, this reel utilizes a time-honored click-pawl system that protects light tippet while preventing overrun within a Quick-change spool with a threaded release cap and large-arbor design. If that’s not enough, all Abel Reel designs can be personalized to match the heart and soul of the angler you know and love.

Buy it here

4. The Angler’s Pint Glass

fathers day fly fishing cups
Photo courtesy of bearsden.com

For those looking to get dad something he’ll never lose, but don’t want to break the bank; The Angler Pint glass is a fun, and unique gift to show dad you care. With a selection of styles, this glass appreciates the most important measurement when it comes to pouring a drink, the angler’s pint. This glass is dishwasher safe and holds a generous serving of 21.5 oz for Dads favorite frothy beverage. This gift is sure to become dads favorite vessel for thirst relief, and the staple of anytime between getting off the water to football Sundays.

Buy it here

5. Costa Fantail Sunglasses

fathers day fly fishing glasses
photo courtesy of sportfish.com

The folks at Costa is notoriously known for their commitment to quality, and these sunglasses show no exception. With impact and scratch resistant lenses, these shades are backed for life and will ensure your dad is the coolest looking guy on the skiff and at the barbecue. Don’t let us forget to mention, Costa accommodates for aging eyes and can easily add prescription specifications to any pair of Costa Sunglasses.

Buy it here

6. Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX Fly Line

fathers day fly fishing fly line
photo courtesy of sportfish.com

“The weather was terrible.” “Water was too crowded.” “They just weren’t biting today.” It seems as if every dad has an arsenal of excuses as to why they came off the water empty-handed. Don’t let tattered, sub-par fly line be one of them! Scientific Anglers is the best in the game when it comes to making fly-line, so why give your old man anything less. This fathers day bestow the gift of more fish with SA’s patented shooting texture technology found with SA Amplitude line.

Buy it here

7. Benchmade Grizzly Ridge Knife

fathers day fly fishing knife
photo courtesy of everydaycarry.com

Any outdoorsman who knows a thing or two about going out in the woods can agree on one thing, never leave camp without a knife. Whether your pop is tripping through the harsh Alaskan tundra, or just enjoys hikes 10 minutes from home, rest easy knowing the Grizzly Ridge has got his back. This knife is made of dependable steel and has a hunter orange casing to assure that no matter where it may fall, any eyes, young or old, can spot it. when it comes to carrying a knife like this in the woods/on the water, you never know when you’ll need it until you need it, and when that time comes, you better have it.

Buy it here

8. Duck Camp co. Mallard Green Trucker Hat

fathers day fly fishing hat
photo courtesy of duckcamp.com

Looking for a cheap, yet meaningful gift for this fathers day? Look no further than the adjustable Mallard Green trucker hat made by DuckCamp. Their classic, adjustable trucker fit will match any dads style and will make a great gift for anglers and hunters alike. While you’re there, check out the DuckCamps Dad’s gift guides to find the perfect pairing for his new hat

Buy it here

9. Rail Riders Cabo Cantina Shirt

fathers day fly fishing shirt
photo courtesy of Railriders.com

Not much needs to be said for this fatherly must-have. This featherweight Nylon-polyester build is sure to keep anyone comfortable whether their hanging on the beach (socks and sandals equipped) or targeting tarpon in the hot Florida sun, these shirts are not only fashionable, but they’re functional. With wrinkle-free and quick dry technology the man in charge never has to worry about changing no matter the occasion (though a wash every couple weeks or so is encouraged)

Buy it here

10. Flylords Grateful Dead Bear Teefathers day fly fishing t shirt

Hey, if we wouldn’t buy the stuff we offer, we wouldn’t sell it in the first place. We here at Flylords all have a bit of our fathers in us, and with that comes a love for those dancing bears. These butter soft tees show off our favorite bear rocking a brown trout pattern above the signature Flylords name. They come in navy and olive, and of course, are officially licensed by the Grateful Dead. This holiday, don’t sail on the ship of fools, get the gear that’s voted the Bears choice, and head over to our store before these sweet shirts are all gone.

Buy it here 

11. Seaholm Offshore Dive Watch

fathers day fly fishing watch
photo courtesy of districtangling.com

When it comes to watch companies, there are few that can rival what Seaholm does. The Offshore Dive Watch is a testament to their ingenuity and commitment to quality. When it comes to durability and longevity, no other watches match the Offshore Dive. This watch features a divers 200m designation, assuring that each piece has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it is of the utmost quality. Available in 3 colors; cool grey, offshore blue, and black, this watch comes with a stainless steel bracket, as well as an interchangeable NATO band, making it one of the most versatile watches of its time. If your dad spends time on the water, get him something that will last, and remain a valuable asset for many years to come.

Buy it here

12. Sightline 20 oz. Yeti Cuff

fathers day fly fishing yeti
photo courtesy of sightline.com

Great thinking, you got your dad a Yeti Rambler. But, there’s still something missing. Right now it’s just a cup just like all the other ones sitting on the hardware store shelf. This fathers day go above and beyond and get dad something that’ll stand out. Make his iconic rambler like no other and deck it out with the Sightline Yeti Cuff. Each cuff is made of handcrafted leather and stainless steel, bringing life to any rambler. Available in a variety of styles such as dry fly, tarpon, trout, and tectonic rush; this accessory is sure to make dads new yeti stand out from the rest.

Buy it here

13. Buff USA Aqua Gloves

fathers day fly fishing gloves
photo courtesy of buffusa.com

As we get older, our skin needs more and more protection from the harmful elements. However, this shouldn’t mean we need to spend any less time in the great outdoors. Luckily, Buff USA has got you covered (literally), providing durable, smart, and protective gear for anglers young and old. For years their trusted Aqua gloves have been the go-to when looking for a stylish and functional pair of fishing gloves. With 50+ UPF sun protection, you and dad can stay slaying fish all day worry free. Not to mention, these gloves are engineered to be durable and dependable, making certain your old man will have them around for years to come.

Buy it here

14. Casus Grill Instant Barbecue

 

fathers day fly fishing camping
photo courtesy of amazon.com        

His second office is in front of the grill, he’s been wearing the same bbq stained apron since 1994, and he never fails to cook the burgers just a little too long. Your dad IS the grill master. So, why should his grilling stop once he leaves home? Well, lucky for him now it doesn’t have to. With the innovative Casus Grill, firing up the charcoal is as easy as setting up a few pieces of cardboard and slapping some meat on the flame. The Casus is a new way to take outdoor excursions to a whole new level, and most importantly, it’s completely eco-friendly. Once your done prepping dinner, just send the little guy into the fire and enjoy your meal. This is the perfect gift for dads who are out for adventure but still want to enjoy a slice of home.

Buy it here

15. Patagonia Storm Front Hip Pack

fathers day fly fishing tackle box
photo courtesy of patagonia.com

There’s something to be said about an old faded vest accompanied by the remnants of a sheep’s wool patch that’s older than you. In fly fishing, tradition is one of the most important aspects to value and is a defining feature of the sport we know and love. However, there is always room for improvement. By upgrading dad to the gear of the future, you’re not just giving the pack itself, but you’re giving the gift of better days on the water. Patagonia’s line of hip packs are made to revolutionize the way you fish through the gear you use. The Storm Front is made to be 100% waterproof, ensuring the safe passage of the important equipment inside. Not to mention it’s adjustable low profile hip strap and padded shoulder sling optimize weight distribution for the aging joints of the user, thus ensuring a long and comfortable day on the water.

Buy it here

Product List:

Mountain Khaki Webbing Belt

Orvis Magnifier Lamp

Abel TR Click and Pawl Fly Reel

Orvis Anglers Pint

Costa Fantail Sunglasses

SA Amplitude Mpx Fly line

Grizzly Ridge Knife

Duck Camp Mallard Trucker Hat

Rail Riders Cabo Cantina Shirt

Flylords Grateful Dead Bear Tee

Seaholm Offshore Dive Watch

Sightline Yeti Cuff

Buff USA Aqua Gloves

Casus Grill Instant BBQ

Patagonia Storm Front Hip Pack

 

*feature photo courtesy of outdoorlife.com

 

Article written by Flylords Team Member Wills Donaldson 

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Fly Fishing Columbia’s Jungles: Trip Preparation

Fly Fishing Columbia’s Jungles: Trip Preparation thumbnail

Planning a fishing trip out of the country is something you would typically have at least a month or more in time to do…This is how I did it in a little over two weeks.

After feeding my brain with as much research as I possibly could on the area, the fishery and the environment I would be in, I formulated a list of the essentials and priorities that I would need to have for the trip to be successful.

First on my list was obtaining my yellow fever vaccination – This task resulted in being much more difficult than I could have imagined. There was a yellow fever vaccine shortage and after calling all over the Portland area and 2 days later I finally was able to get in touch with a Travel and Immunization clinic – They told me that they have the yellow fever alternative vaccine until the shortage is fulfilled. They then told me that they are booked for a month out …. after some begging and persuading with them they “squeezed” me in that following Monday.

When I met with the nurse who stuck a needle in my arm, she ran down all the “worse case scenarios” with me. She prescribed me the two important pills to bring with, according to her, anti-malaria and anti-diarrhea.  There are four different types of anti-malaria pills and all have different side effects, one being that you can have very “vivid” dreams and another being that your skin can be extra sensitive to the sun. I opted for the ladder of the two, bring on the trippy dreams!   

After you get your yellow fever vaccine they give you this little yellow stamped card that can be very important in allowing or not allowing you entry in some countries. Luckily for travel from the US to Colombia, it is not required but it is recommended and sort of peace of mind to have it just in case.

Next on my list was the bugs! I will be camping in the jungle for 10 days and from my research, everything in the jungle wants your blood. I found the Sawyer Permethrin spray to be the best pre-treatment for my clothing. I hung up all my clothing in my backyard and sprayed multiple layers of the insect repellent to have a base coat ready and soaked into my clothes upon my arrival. The spray lasts for up to 6 weeks and protects against ticks, chiggers, mites, and mosquitos. Once it was dry I could not feel or see any leftover residue or odor which I really liked.

Where I will be traveling is practically on the equator so protecting my skin was very important to me. All the clothing I packed I needed to be confident in that it would withstand the jungle conditions and have SPF protection. The Free Fly bamboo Shade Hoody paired with the Breeze Pants ended up being my go-to for fishing on the boat. They kept me from getting sunburned and also cool in the hot humid weather.

While traveling in and to Puerto Carreno the Kuhl Horizon Pants held through all the weather conditions that were thrown our way. It went from hot and sunny to torrential downpours while standing on the ferry crossing the river and these pants wicked away moisture.

In preparation for the trip, I had the most fun researching the species I would be going after and tying up some of my own creations on what I think could work. Payara were one of the harder fish to find flies for. I knew they had to be big and flashy so going off of that I came up with a few baitfish patterns to tie and I also found a Colombian local who works with Fish Colombia who is an incredible fly tyer and bought some flies off of him – @orinocoflies.

For the Peacock bass, Umpqua flies had all the arsenal we could need. The Reducer Fly was the VIP of the trip.

Last but not least – The gear! I brought down with me 3 setups. 9wt, 10wt, and an 11wt – the 9 wt I had equipped as my jungle dry line for fishing poppers and streamers that I did not want to sink too much for Sardanita and Peacock Bass. The 10wt I had for the peacock bass streamers with a full sinking Type 6 jungle line to get the fly down there when fishing the lagoons. I used the 11wt set up with a full sinking tropical line, Type 6 for the Payara, who live in the fast strong currents of the Orinoco River.

Article from Kayla Lockhart and photos from Jesse Packwood of Team Flylords on their recent adventure down to Columbia.

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Bass On The Rocks: 4 Proven Baits For Fishing Around Rock

Bass On The Rocks: 4 Proven Baits For Fishing Around Rock thumbnail

A crayfish tops the meal menu for any bass living on rocky lakes.

Rocks provide shelter for crayfish so when you fish rocky lakes for bass you should consider selecting lures that best imitate a crayfish. Here are four mud bug imitators you should try when fishing lakes with rocky bottoms.

Jigs

A jig tipped with either a plastic chunk or craw is one of the most effective year-round crayfish imitators. You can drag a heavier jig and keep in close contact with the bottom to imitate a crayfish crawling along the rocks or you can lift and drop a lighter jig to mimic a crayfish fleeing from a predator.

Crankbaits

crankbait hookup

A crawfish-colored crankbait produces mainly for me in the spring but I have also caught bass from rocky lakes on this mud bug imitator in the late fall. In the early spring I retrieve a medium-diving crawfish crankbait slowly along chunk rock banks. As the water gets warmer I concentrate on banks mixed with chunk rocks and pea gravel where I retrieve the crankbait at a faster pace and try to frequently bump it into the bottom. I employ a steady medium-speed retrieve along chunk rock banks in the fall.

Twin-tail Grubs

double tailed grub

A double-tail plastic grub attached to a standup jighead produces best for me late in the pre-spawn and during the spawn when bass have moved to gravel banks. A variety of retrieves with this crayfish imitator triggers strikes from pre-spawn bass cruising the shallows. You can hop it, drag and shake it on the bottom or slowly lift and drop it. When bass are on nests, you can drag the grub into the nest and let it sit there. An occasional twitch of the rod will activate the grub’s tails and annoy the bedding bass.

Plastic Craws

cabin creek express craw

A Texas-rigged plastic craw worm is an ideal agitator for spawning bass. You can tempt bedding bass into inhaling this intruder by using the same presentation as I mentioned for the twin-tail grub. Bass have a hard time resisting a craw worm standing in its nest.

When bass move to deeper water after the spawn, you can catch those fish by attaching a plastic craw on a drop-shot rig or a shaky head jig. The shaky head craw works best for bottom-hugging bass while the drop-shot craw is a better option for bass suspended slightly above the rocky bottom.


A Fly Fisher’s Pickerel Apology

A Fly Fisher’s Pickerel Apology thumbnail

Fishes of the genus Esox have always fascinated anglers. They get big. They look mean. They attack lures and fight… if you can manage to find and hook one.

All of these things make sense. So here is what confuses me: In a world where we chase carp and sing the praises of six-inch brook trout, why aren’t pickerel celebrated?

Although I lived in southern and mid-Atlantic states within their natural range, I never  encountered a pickerel until I moved to New England. The first fish I caught upon relocating was a feisty, toothy, sixteen-inch specimen. “Oh, its just a pickerel,” my angling companion noted with the same disdain I would expect to hear had I reeled in a muddy branch. I didn’t know any better. It was a fish. It fought. It looked a lot like a pike. And I enjoyed the whole experience.

I guess I still don’t know any better. Sure, they stink, wriggle,  and can chew up your hand. And they can “get in the way” of catching other species. But here and now, I’m defending and offering an apologetic for the pickerel.

Continue reading “A Fly Fisher’s Pickerel Apology”

Electric Bike “E-bike” and Fly Fishing Trips in Colorado?

Electric Bike “E-bike” and Fly Fishing Trips in Colorado? thumbnail

Vail Valley Anglers, a fly shop and outfitter located in the High Rockies of Colorado, is offering an “E-Bike and Fly Fish Guided Trip.” The guided trip involves using electric e-bikes to access a variety of different water that may be tougher for other anglers to access. Flylords caught up with one of the “e-bike guides” Eric Phannenstiel to discuss what this trip offering is all about.

Flylords: Where did the idea come from?
Eric: The first I heard about the idea was from our General Manager John Cochran. He tapped me to lead the implementation of the idea since I am an avid cyclist. I have ridden “Ride the Rockies”, a week-long cycling event in Colorado as well as some of the longer single-day ride events that are available in Colorado and New Mexico.

Flylords: What’s the advantage of using a bike?
Eric: There are several. Most notably is that we can access parts of our rivers where parking for motor vehicles is not readily available. In addition, we can be more selective about where we fish since we can view much more of the river from our paths which follow the river system. Also, since we use e-bikes, we can cover a lot of river in a day. Lastly, you get to exercise in a sport that is not typically known for its workout benefits!

Flylords: What types of electric bikes do you use?
Eric: The bikes are from a company named Sondors. When we started the program, there were very few affordable bikes available, but these seemed to fit our needs nicely.

Flylords: How do you transport the fly rods and other gear?
Eric: We have two-piece rod cases that attach to the bike frames with bungee balls and we use spacers between the case and the frame to ensure that the cases don’t interfere with the bikes in any way. On the guide’s bike, we have a set of panniers to stow the guide’s equipment pack and other items that are necessary for the trip. There is also space on top of the guide’s bike rack for a large landing net. We typically go wet wading (wading boots and neoprene socks) since riding a bike in waders and boots is not very practical.

Flylords: Have you had any issue with clients crashing or equipment problems?
Eric: During the test phase of this program we had initially envisioned a trailer behind the guide’s bike to carry all of the necessary gear.  On one of the test drives, a wheel fell off the trailer which led to a catastrophic crash that broke multiple fly rods. It was not pretty… I am not aware of any client crashes. The bikes are very sturdy and are well balanced. They have 4 inch wide tires on them too, which helps with the stability. In fact, I have had a 72 year old man on a guided trip where we were riding on single-track trails. It was awesome!

Flylords: What rivers do you mainly fish?
Eric: We typically fish the Eagle River in the Vail Valley.  It is a freestone river that has a wonderful history of legendary fish during pioneer days, then an unfortunate period where the river was subjected to heavy metals contamination from the mining industry.

The Eagle River is now a very productive, healthy fishery that offers primarily Brown and Rainbow trout, some Cutthroats, and the occasional Brook trout.

Flylords: Do you think this concept will trend amongst other anglers?
Eric: I think that this mode of travel is a great opportunity for our guests to check multiple things off their list of things to do in a single activity. It is a fun way to experience fishing and see parts of our valley from a bike that would otherwise not be practical.

I have been riding my bike and fishing since I was a young boy, but I have yet to see many fishermen doing this yet. Perhaps with the growing popularity of e-bikes, this will allow more fishermen to experience this activity mashup.

Article and interview made possible by Eric Phannenstielat Vail Valley Anglers, if you are interested in contacting Eric or the fly shop, check them out online at vailvalleyanglers.com.

Photos courtesy of Nolan Dahlberg, Marketing/Media Lead at Vail Valley Anglers. Be sure to check them out on Instagram @vailvalleyanglers.

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