Rocky Mountain Road Trip

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Colorado’s Rocky Mountains could keep a trout angler occupied for a lifetime.

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That’s what I thought to myself while westbound on Colorado’s Route 24 with my dad and a friend—the sound of rubber turning on the road and the vastness of the Rockies in the distance. I felt restless.

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After all, we didn’t have a lifetime to explore Colorado’s Rockies. But we did have enough time. Enough time to cover several hundred miles of exceptional trout country.

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Our first stop was at a well-known section of the South Platte River called the Dream Stream. Named for the size of the fish it produces, mostly in the spring and fall months when trout migrate up the river from the reservoir below, this tailwater meanders through a 1,300-acre high desert prairie at 9,000 feet.

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As our road trip continued west, the mountains we first saw in the distance got bigger and bigger, and the prairies that surrounded us turned to rock. We eventually arrived in the Roaring Fork Valley, home to 42 miles of Gold Medal water. Designated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the state’s Gold Medal waters provide better-than-average fishing opportunities for large trout.

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Ready to experience something new, we set out to fish high-elevation lakes and creeks scattered across the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The cold, thin air took our breath away. And so did the scenery. With water as flat as glass and 14,000-foot peaks surrounding us, the only thing nearly as beautiful were the cutthroat and brookies we caught.

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No one wanted to admit it, but with our flight home scheduled for that evening, we all knew it was time to pack it in.

After all, we didn’t have a lifetime. But we did have the time of our lives.

Photos and story from Mike McDade, check him out on Instagram at @mikemc290.

Continue reading “Rocky Mountain Road Trip”

6 Ways to Approach Teaching Fly Casting

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I think we can all agree that casting is often the limiting factor for confidence and success while fly fishing. Perhaps more than any other variable, the ability to get the fly to the right spot can make the difference between fish and no fish. More importantly: fun and no fun.

It is a balance, though. You don’t want to establish some hypothetical standard of how someone should be able to cast before you take them out and put them on the water. You also don’t want them to be so frustrated that it is not an enjoyable experience.

I don’t have a perfect solution, but I have an idea. It is one that has worked in a number of settings for a variety of people.

Casting instruction.

Certainly, you can have your friend – the potential angler – sign up for a class through a local fly shop or conservation organization. Or, you can buy them lunch, go to a park, and help them get the fundamentals in view.

But good intentions also require some forethought. Have you ever honestly considered every component part that goes into a fly cast? It isn’t as easy as handing them a rod and telling them to “just cast it.” You being a good caster also doesn’t translate into you being a good teacher. Here are six things to think about before you try to help somebody figure out this vitally important (and fun) part of fly fishing. Continue reading “6 Ways to Approach Teaching Fly Casting”

How to Catch Shallow Bass In Early Summer

Its time to head shallow for some Summer bass fishing fun! Frogging, wakebaits, flipping, and a whole lot more… its the fishing we dream about all Winter long! If you’re not going shallow with heavy tackle this Summer you’re missing the boat on a lot of really fun fishing! Today Tim is breaking down all the baits he uses to consistently target bass in Early Summer.

Everyone loves catching bass on topwater but this is the time of year you can upsize to a big wake bait and catch a GIANT post spawn bass. If the topwater bite isn’t happening you can head deep into heavy cover with a heavy punching rig and pull the big fish out of the shallows. If that’s not working, there are some awesome reaction options like swim jigs and crankbaits that consistently fool Summer bass.

Don’t miss your chance this Summer! Whether you’re bank fishing a pond, paddling a kayak, or ripping around in a brand new bass boat, the Summer months have some amazing fishing opportunities. Head into the shallows and explore everything your lake has to offer! Below is a breakdown of the tackle discussed in the video.

Topwater Baits…

Wakebait- Evergreen Noisy Dachs: http://bit.ly/2JbrbaM

Walking Frog- River2Sea Bully Wa 2: http://bit.ly/2axyR2a

Steady Retrieve Frog- Teckel Sprinker: http://bit.ly/2rmnqSI

Buzzbait- Slow Roller Quad Blade: http://bit.ly/2t7BMKt

Toad- Zoom Horny Toad: http://bit.ly/2aY5lBt

Floating Toad- Damiki Air Frog: http://bit.ly/2kWCcA7

Punching/Flipping Baits…

Muted Action- Reaction Innovations Beaver: http://bit.ly/29W3RZW

Active Action- Strike King Rage Bug: http://bit.ly/2aAsuiV

5/0 Owner Jungle Flipping Hook: http://bit.ly/2G5aQTk

1/0 Tungsten Flippin’ Weight: http://bit.ly/2bo4NZf

Subsurface baits…

Stick Bait- 6″ Yamamoto Senko: http://bit.ly/2axAmNS

Jig- 3/8 oz pitching jig: http://bit.ly/2amL3of

Jig Trailer- Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver: http://bit.ly/29W3RZW

Soft Jerkbait- Zoom Super Fluke: http://bit.ly/2aqys0H

Reaction Baits…

Swim Jig- 1/2 oz Dirty Jigs California Swim Jig: http://bit.ly/2auXfmx

Swim Jig Trailer- Keitech 4.3″ Swimbait: http://bit.ly/2ab7s8v

Chatterbait- 1/2 oz Jack Hammer: http://bit.ly/2popvj6

Squarebill Crankbait- 6th Sense Crush 50 Silent: http://bit.ly/2HbaCGT

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Winner’s Circle: Matt Ramey Hobie BOS Winner- Lake Fork

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In this second installment of the Winner’s Circle, I am catching up with Matt Ramey of New Mexico to chat about his path to victory in the Hobie Bass Open Series on Lake Fork last week.

Ramey, a Fisheries Biologist and Project Manager who lives in Carlsbad, New Mexico made the 10 and a half hour trek to Alba, Texas to fish the Hobie Bass Open Series on a lake known by the world to produce giants. While many locals were thinking about fishing deep, Ramey stuck to what he’s most comfortable with, shallow fishing. While Matt has been known to throw a spook, what he prefers is not really a secret.

“I like a jig the best. Shallow flipping grass or in my home lakes salt cedars and rocks is what I am doing most of the time.”

When I asked him if he had a specific jig he liked, it boiled down to where he was fishing and what the water was like.

“In clear water lakes, I’ll throw a Strike King Bitsy Bug, something small for really clear water.” But there is a clear favorite when it comes to jigs he really loves: Ten Bears Baits.

“Ten Bears makes Tungsten and jigs. They have an Arkie style head that I really like because we fish so many rocky lakes. It’s definitely my go to.”

Matt Ramey Winner's Circle Hobie Bass Open Series Winner Payne Outdoors
Photo by Mark Cisneros

Fishing shallow is an interesting technique for June in Texas where water temps are often in the 80s by June. I wanted to get to the thought process behind it but before I even got to the when and where of fishing, Ramey’s background shed light on the way this all went down. Matt Ramey has a degree in Fisheries Biology from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico (Go Greyhounds!).  I asked if that meant he knew a lot about fish and if that gave him an edge and then he dropped the knowledge bomb.

“It’s not about fish as much as it is about water. I know a lot about water and what the water is doing. That helps me target areas and know what I’m looking for.”

Science!

Matt made the drive down on Monday and prefished Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The weather was uncooperative on Wednesday. On Tuesday he went right to where he thought the fish would be and caught a couple of fish fairly quickly and then spent the rest of the day Tuesday graphing the whole area, marking waypoints and looking for very specific features.

” I spent all my time during the tournament flipping shallow in the grass. A lot of these fish spend their whole lives in the grass and won’t venture off very far. I was keying on grass mats with a depth under them of two and half feet or more. The grass that only had a foot or so underneath just wasn’t productive. I also looked for deep water access points near the grass. After Tuesday, I didn’t go back to that area until the tournament. I spent Thursday and Friday looking for that deep water bite but it just wasn’t there. The fish were scattered. I’d see one or two but not what I was really looking for.”

Matt Ramey Winner's Circle Hobie Bass Open Series Winner Payne Outdoors
Photo by Mark Cisneros

The plan to go back to the shallow grass paid off in the tournament where Ramey posted 101.25 inches on Day One and followed that up with 93.25 inches on Day Two for a total of 194.5 inches which sealed the win. Second Place Finisher Bryan Howell had 178.25 inches and Third Place Finisher Guillermo Gonzalez had 176.75 inches.

Matt Ramey is no stranger to kayak tournaments. Matt is a co-founder and tournament director of  Eastern New Mexico Kayak Fishing and also fishes some tournaments with West Texas Kayak Fishing. His home base is Zia Kayak Outfitters in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, a Hobie shop which is his preferred sled of choice. This year Ramey is rocking a Hobie Pro Angler 14 in the Papaya color.

When I inquired about rods and reels that he used in the tournament he revealed he doesn’t have any sponsors so he just uses the right stuff for the right application. In the Hobie BOS he says his Dobyns Sierra 7’6″ flipping stick never left his hand. For flipping, he pairs the Dobyns with a Quantum reel. When he’s not flipping shallow grass, he usually has one of the Johnny Morris CarbonLite rods paired with either a Quantum or Shimano reel.

Matt Ramey spent his time at Fork doing what he felt confident in, what the fish were telling him in prefishing, and what the water around him was whispering. He didn’t try to force the deep bite but rather capitalized on a pattern that he developed from time on the water and a mix of science. That willingness to go with the flow rather than forcing a pattern paid dividends last weekend and no doubt will continue to pay into the future.

 

 

 

 

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Celebrity Spotlight: Garret Yrigoyen

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The Flylords team had the pleasure of catching up with last years Bachelorette winner, Garret Yrigoyen. After receiving the “First Impression Rose” from Rebecca Kufrin, Garret was able to win her heart on national TV. Now that the show has been over, they are happily married and Garret is able to spend more time on the water. Being outside seems to be a major stress reliever and allows him to gain more respect for the environment. Read on to find out what he’s been up to and what his future plans hold.

Flylords: How would your fishing buddies describe you rather than the rest of your fans?

Garret: My friends call me GY or G, not Garrett. Some refer to me as a wildcard because they never know what I’m doing. They would say I’m outgoing, love to laugh and joke, and would do anything for any of them.

 Flylords: When did you first pick up a fly rod?

Garret: I first picked up a fly rod in 2015. My friend and college roommate/teammate taught me the basics and got me on my first fish that summer. I began fishing when I was about 3 with conventional tackle.

Flylords: Has anyone ever recognized you on the water?

Garret: I’ve had one person recognize me on the water, it was kind of funny because he said: “oh my God, are you Garrett from the Bachelorette?” 

 Flylords: What does Rebecca think of your nomadic lifestyle?

Garret: Rebecca appreciates my nomadic style because it reminds her of her late father and how I’m different from a lot of people. 

Flylords: Does Rebecca fly fish with you?

Garret: Rebecca “Becca” has fished with me twice but not with a fly rod, but I attempted to teach her in a pool once.

Flylords: Does she still have that large streamer you gave her from the first impression rose episode?

Garret: She does still have the streamer I gave her from the first impression episode. She keeps it on a duck decoy her dad carved 

 Flylords: When did you get into the fly fishing/hunting industry?

Garret: I just recently started dabbling in the fishing/hunting industry. I would love to a lot more because I feel like it is something I’m passionate about and would like to become a lot more educated and better at both. 

Flylords: What else do you do in your free time to relax? 

Garret: I honestly hate relaxing. I like being exhausted when I go to bed at night. Relaxing activities for me would be swimming, corn hole, ping pong, billiards, card games, marbles, and cribbage! 

Flylords: Spiked seltzer or beer? Or does it depend on the situation haha..

Garret: It depends on the situation while choosing a spiked seltzer or beer. I’m more of a beer drinker especially after or during fishing, and spiked seltzer if I’m out doing something more strenuous like beach volleyball or Spikeball haha.

Flylords: What are your favorite species to target?

Garret: My favorite species to target are any type of trout. Mostly browns and rainbows.

Flylords: If you could fish anywhere in the world, where would it be and who with?

Garret: I’ve wanted to fly fish in the Pyrenees with my dad & brother for a few years now. We are Basque, the country/region is gorgeous. I know they have a ton of trout in there. There is something that gives me pure enjoyment and excitement every single time I see my dad & brother get on a fish because they are the ones who originally got me into it as a kid, we are essentially best friends and I feel like it’s a reward to see them do well on the water. 

Flylords: Tell us your favorite fishing memory.

Garret: I have many favorite fishing memories but one in particular that makes me still laugh is this…My dad was teaching me and my brother how to read a stream and we had to get to the other side of the bank to fish this hole. The only way across was to walk onto a fallen tree that was just wide enough to get both feet on sideways. The stream was too fast and deep for a 6 & 12 yr old to cross without being swept away. My brother and I questioned it and my dad said “what do you have to be afraid of, here I will show you” he made it about halfway across before he slipped off the log and fell in the stream. He let the current take him down about 50 yards until it calmed down and he made it to the bank. We said, “hey dad, is that how we do it?” Haha. My brother and I made it across without falling in. We have a lot of great stories like that. 

Flylords: Any plans for the future?

Garret: I always plan on fishing in Eastern Nevada with a great friend of mine. But I would love to make it up to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. I can also say that I have been looking into going to Roatán to go fly fishing for permits. 

Continue reading “Celebrity Spotlight: Garret Yrigoyen”

Interior Department Announces More Public Access on Lower Blackfoot River

Last week, the Interior Department announced plans to purchase THOUSANDS of acres in Montana’s Lower Blackfoot Watershed. To many fly anglers, this stretch of water is famous for being the setting for one of our most famous fly fishing stories, “A River Runs Through It”, by Norman Maclean. The novel, and fly fishing in general, was made famous when Robert Redford made the novella into an amazing film featuring Brad Pitt, which has been credited with aiding in the rise of fly fishing as we know it now.

Fly Fishing Little Blackfoot River

According to a press release from the Interior Department:

“Secretary David Bernhardt said the plan is to work in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy to buy 13,000 acres of private land and eventually open it to anglers, campers, floaters, and others while also keeping forest management projects.

‘From the very beginning of my tenure, public access is a critical component to how we manage lands. Acquiring these lands dramatically increases access to public lands available for recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, and snowmobiling,’ said Bernhardt.”

Once the acreage is acquired the new lands will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

According to an article in The Washington Examiner:

“It plans to use money from Sportsman’s Access funds allocated by Congress from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It plans to spend $3 million to acquire approximately 4,800 acres of the 13,000 acres later this year.”

We had the pleasure of fishing the Little Blackfoot River in Montana while on location at The Ranch at Paws Up and could not be more excited that more anglers will be able to publically access this amazing trout fishery!

Source: TheWashingtonExaminer.com, United States Department of the Interior.

Continue reading “Interior Department Announces More Public Access on Lower Blackfoot River”

Plastic Worms Underwater – Which Ones Look The Best? Underwater Footage!

We’re headed back underwater to look at the most popular worms on the market! We’ve paired 8 worms up with a shakey head and a medium action rod to see which baits perform the best underwater. If you’ve wondered which worm you should try or why one works better than another, this video will answer a lot of your questions!

The combination of a shaky head and a plastic worm is deadly through the Summer months. The technique is incredibly versatile with retrieves varying from a slow drag to an aggressive snapping motion. The key to shaky head fishing is finding a worm that the bass are responding to. This video will help you understand the subtle differences in action so the next time you need to fine tune a bite or save a bite that’s gone cold, you’ll know which worm to turn to.

We love capturing underwater footage despite the inherent difficulties. We hope you enjoyed the footage as much as we did! Below is a breakdown of the tackle and equipment used in the video.

Shaky Head…

Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Shakey Head (3/16oz) – http://bit.ly/2aFOs0V

The Worms (With color recommendation)…

Zoom Trick Worm (California 420) – http://bit.ly/2aWkG7E

Daiwa Yamamoto Neko Straight ( Baby Bass) – http://bit.ly/2kH4KuC

Roboworm Fat Straight Tail Worm (MM III) – http://bit.ly/2awYSxM

Strike King KVD Fat Baby Finesse Worm (Moon Juice)- http://bit.ly/2aKei5y

Reaction Innovations Flirt Worm (Violator) – http://bit.ly/2CMB33J

Keitech Easy Shaker Worm (Electric Shad) – http://bit.ly/2R2t8a3

Yamamoto Senko 5″ ( Green Pumpkin Blk Flk) – http://bit.ly/2axAmNS

NetBait T-Mac 6.5 (Texas Craw) – http://bit.ly/2jndwj9

Shakey Head Combo…

Shimano Expride A Spinning Rod 7′ Medium – http://bit.ly/2osaj3q

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Spinning Reel – http://bit.ly/2gu84t7

Sunline SX1 Braided Line 12lb – http://bit.ly/2tn8EzQ

Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon 8lb – http://bit.ly/2p7fxju

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Making A Fishing Checklist: Quick Tips For Your Next Fishing Trip

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Owning a boat makes it easier to remember what to bring for my fishing trips because many of the items I use are already stored in the boat.

However, there are times when I fish with a friend in his boat or fish from the bank and need to decide what I should bring with me. I am guilty of never putting together a fishing checklist, but I would recommend making a list to prevent forgetting essential items for your fishing trips.

Here is a checklist of items you will need for your next fishing trip.

Rod and Reel

The number of rod and reel combos you take depends on what type of fishing you will be doing. When I am bass fishing with a friend in his boat I usually take four baitcast combos with different line sizes on the reels that allows me to fish a variety of lures. If I am bank fishing, I usually take two rods and for wade fishing I scale down to one rod.

Lures

I usually take a soft tacklebag holding three or four utility boxes filled with the lures I think will work for the season I am fishing.

Rain Gear

The first year I fished bass tournaments I learned the hard way about the value of quality rain gear. It’s hard to concentrate on fishing for eight hours when you are cold and wet. Now I take a rain suit any time there is even a slight chance of rain.

Hat

I always wear a hat while fishing either for warmth in the cold weather or protection from the sun.

*Sunglasses: I always wear sunglasses to reduce glare and protect my eyes from harmful sun rays and any errant projectiles.

Food

A four-course meal on the water is unnecessary but you should at least pack some snacks to munch on throughout the day to keep up your energy level. I usually take a couple of packages of fig bars and oatmeal bars that are easy to pack in my tackle bag.

Water

Usually one bottle of water is all I need when fishing in cooler weather, but during the heat of summer I take at least two bottles to prevent dehydration.


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

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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.

4 Reasons Why Bike Packing and Fly Fishing Go Hand-in-Hand

The Endless Pursuit for Solitude

Of Sticks and Stones: A Story of Stream-side Innovation

A Fly Fisher’s Pickerel Apology

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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”