Go fish…

by Lance Egan

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To the un-initiated, fly fishing is often viewed as a mystical or magical “art” with complex tackle, rigging and hatch matching.  While fly fishing can be a bit tricky while sorting through the terms, techniques and places to wet a line, it often boils down to simply making whatever you place on the end of your line act like food.  Delving into this topic could result in a lengthy chapter in a book, but for this blog post I think it’s best left short.

Speaking specifically about Trout fishing, we are often given the same formula with promised success.  Books, magazines, DVD’s, internet articles or blog posts such as this often profess to “match the hatch” to ensure you catch as many fish as possible.  While “matching the hatch” has its place, too often it isn’t the best option to ensure you maximize your catch.

The next time you find yourself on a river with few hatching insects (or try this during a dense hatch, it may surprise you), think attraction rather than imitation.  I realize this goes against the grain of typical fly fishing advice, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found large numbers of Trout eager to take flies which look nothing like the natural insects making a home on the stream bottom.  Standard flies which fit into this “attractor” category include the Royal Wulff, Chernobyl Ant, Prince Nymph, Copper John, and Rainbow Warrior.  While each of these patterns share parts similar to things found in nature, none are exact replicas, most have strange, bright, contrasting colors and/or outlandish silhouettes, which more often than not draw the attention of the fish.

Put these or your confidence attractor patterns to use on your favorite piece of water.  Don’t overthink the fishing process.  Remember, Trout have a brain the size of your thumbnail.  Present your offering well and let the fish do the rest of the work.

 

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Brown Trout caught on one of the author’s favorite attractor patterns, the Red Dart

Go fish…

 

The Greenbrier: America’s Resort on the Fly

greebbrier sporting club

 

White Sulphur Springs, WV – January 24, 2014: Curtis Fleming, award-winning host of “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” on the Outdoor Channel, filmed at The Greenbrier and The Greenbrier Sporting Club in April 2013 for an upcoming television episode, “America’s Resort on the Fly,” which debuts Monday, January 27 at 11 a.m. EST.

“I grew up in a small town in West Virginia surrounded by woods, streams, and rivers,” said Fleming. “Getting the opportunity to put my eyes on the detailed structure and grounds of The Greenbrier was absolutely amazing. To once again be reminded that the amazing state of West Virginia holds such grand treasures in its natural and refined resources is so incredible.”

In this episode of “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming,” Curtis takes his wife Shelly and his daughter Autumn to The Greenbrier located in West Virginia where they were able to take advantage of several fun-filled family activities, such as horseback riding, falconry, off-road driving, and of course, fly fishing the beautiful Howard’s Creek, a three-mile stretch of water that meanders through the resort’s 10,000-acre estate.

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Curtis with his daughter, Autumn, alongside Jacob Ott, Director of Outdoor Pursuits at The Greenbrier Sporting Club

“The Greenbrier Sporting Club, the private residential community at The Greenbrier, offers every angler the opportunity to fish perfect streams, assisted by first-class guides, and to leave with memories of incredible once-in-a-lifetime trophy catches,” said Fleming. “My daughter and I had an awesome time fishing with Jacob; The Sporting Club members are certainly lucky to have him!”

Every week, Fly Rod Chronicles presents a compelling half-hour fly-fishing adventure show that brings viewers to the breathtaking beauty and majesty of the world’s premier fishing destinations. Each program provides authentic and exciting fishing action with informative instruction, hilarious entertainment, and insightful environmental issues.

“It was great having the Fly Rod Chronicles crew here,” said Jacob Ott, Director of Outdoor Pursuits at The Greenbrier Sporting Club. “Curtis was a blast to fish with; he only sort of hooked me a couple of times. If he keeps practicing his casting, soon he’ll be as good as his daughter.”

The Greenbrier, “America’s Resort on the Fly” episode of “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” will air on the Outdoor Channel on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 11 a.m. EST and repeat on Friday, January 31 at 7 a.m. and noon, and again on Saturday, February 1 at 5:30 p.m.

To watch a teaser of The Greenbrier episode, visit http://youtu.be/HSoFESLmprM.

To download photos courtesy of Fly Rod Chronicles, visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a3c7v9hkzojdxko/MTdu7SOHhe

Curtis Fleming is a native of Bridgeport, WV and his website is www.FlyRodChronicles.tv.

 

ABOUT THE GREENBRIER:

Located in White Sulphur Springs in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, The Greenbrier has been welcoming guests since 1778. Known as “America’s Resort,” it encompasses more than 10,000 acres of undulating landscape that includes: four golf courses (including the exclusive Greenbrier Sporting Club’s private course); a championship indoor and outdoor tennis facility (including five outdoor clay courts and five indoor courts); The Greenbrier Clinic (specializing in executive health); a 40,000-square-foot spa; a mélange of sporting activities; shops; private homes at The Greenbrier Sporting Club; guests-only casino; and, at its heart, a vast and imposing grand hotel. Purchased in 2009 by West Virginia entrepreneur James C. Justice II, The Greenbrier has undergone a $250+ million restoration and is now home to The Greenbrier Classic, a PGA TOUR, FedEx Cup event, and will soon launch The Greenbrier Medical Institute, a state-of-the-art medical complex on the resort’s grounds. To learn more about The Greenbrier, visit www.greenbrier.com.

ABOUT THE GREENBRIER SPORTING CLUB:

The Greenbrier Sporting Club, a private residential sporting community, is the pinnacle of luxury real estate in West Virginia, offering exclusive homesites from $300,000 and homes from $1 million within distinctive neighborhoods set across the 10,000-acre estate of The Greenbrier, an award-winning resort in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains. Sporting Club Members enjoy access to an array of private amenities including two members’ lodges, outdoor pools, award-winning golf at The Snead – an 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course, Eastern-inspired spa (Ananda in the Alleghenies), full-service equestrian center, private access to miles of trout stream, sports complex with indoor squash courts and a 25-foot climbing wall. Members also indulge in exclusive mountaintop amenities at Greenbrier Summit Village and so much more. Home ownership at The Greenbrier Sporting Club also means complete access to more than 50 amenities and activities at The Greenbrier resort, including three championship golf courses, The Old White TPC, The Greenbrier and The Meadows. To learn more about The Greenbrier Sporting Club, visit www.greenbriersportingclub.com.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Mark Liebermann at WEILL
E-mail: mliebermann@geoffreyweill.com
Tel: 1-866-PR-WEILL
www.geoffreyweill.com

Stacy Eskins at The Greenbrier Sporting Club
E-mail: seskins@gbrsc.com
Tel: 304-536-7772
www.greenbriersportingclub.com

Big fish in a little pond

by Chad See

psPSChadSeeAt the age of ten I found myself walking along a field edge where I would cross a field to a small farm pond.  As I weaved my way through the head high hay numerous grass hoppers and crickets leapt from the grass and fled for cover.  As I reached the edge of the pond, some of those grasshoppers would flee in the wrong direction and end up on top of the water.  At first they would sit still, and then they would struggle ever so slightly, trying to make their way back to the safety of dry ground.  I watched this with great focus as I was certain of what would happen next.  Sure enough within a few seconds of the insect struggling on the surface I would see the familiar shapes of the ponds residents appear beneath him.  Sometimes it was several sunfish that would come, sometimes it was a large mouth bass, but regardless, the result was always the same; the fish would come close and strike from beneath.  Every single cricket, grass hopper, leaf hopper, or other sizeable insect that had the mishap of falling in to the pond met the same fate.  The fish just loved them.  They gobbled them up with reckless abandon.  With this in mind the wheels began to turn inside my young mind. I’d walk the field and gather up a cool whip container full of these bugs and put them on a hook, surely this would allow me to catch all those fish.  It didn’t take long and I realized that casting a cricket on a Zebco 33 is darn near impossible.  I tried everything to get the bugs on the water but finally decided I needed the extra weight of a bobber to do the job.  It worked!  Well, sort of.  I was now able to cast the cricket on the pond, but it would not float.  Despite my best efforts they sank.  I still caught fish though.  The bluegills would eat my sunken offerings but not as savagely as they did the naturals that would float.  Thus began my search for how to imitate those floating and struggling insects.

I’m sure that some of you are wondering why I’m writing about a pond full of sunfish when I live literally minutes from some of the best trout fishing in the eastern U.S.  The answer is pretty simple. Not everyone reading this does live near incredible trout fishing, but nearly everyone reading this blog has a farm pond or small local lake nearby that is teaming with sunfish and these little gems are many times overlooked as a great place to learn and spend time as a fly fisherman.  That little farm pond is where I got my start and the lessons I learned there forever shaped who I am as a fly fisherman.  While bluegills may not live in the most pristine places as many of our beloved trout that we love to pursue, they still provide a wonderful outlet for those of us who don’t have trout waters out our back door.

There are many reasons why we as fly anglers should love small ponds and all they have to offer.  First of all is what I touched on earlier, and that is the vast number of these small waters available.  With small lakes and ponds being scattered all across the country, it’s not hard for any of us to find one of these bodies of waters close by to fish.  The availability of these waters makes it very convenient to hit a spot after work, on a lunch break, or in any other free time you might have.  No matter where you live, how much time you have, or what your schedule may be, it is a likely bet that with a little scouting you too can find a small lake or pond of your very own to fish.

To me, the most important of all the benefits of the small pond is the advantages it has for the beginner.  Most small ponds are in the open or at the very least have large openings around them which lend them to being very “caster friendly.”  Nothing is more frustrating to an angler new to the sport than spending half your time picking your flies out of brush or breaking off flies in trees.  Not only do the open surroundings make casting easier, but the flat surface of a pond eliminates the drag and line control issues associated with fishing in the current of a river.  What this means for the beginning caster is that he can focus more on the cast and less on his surroundings and what his line is doing on the water.  Basically, you can just cast and fish which simplifies the entire angling experience and makes it a more enjoyable way to get started.  By a show of hands, who likes to catch fish?  I figure right now everyone reading this has a hand or two in the air.  This is where ponds shine.  On the average, these small bodies of water are loaded with fish which in turn means more opportunities to catch fish and we all know the key to getting anyone “hooked” on fishing is to allow them to have success.  With numerous fish come numerous opportunities to perfect various aspects of fly fishing.  With every strike you get the chance to practice the timing of your hook set and practice playing and landing the fish which are two of the most important things to master.  You will quickly find that the skills you hone on these blue gills in small ponds can be applied to all the fishing you do.  Another perk to ponds is the versatility they offer.  Not only do they offer a variety of fish, but they offer a variety of ways to fish for them.  You are not limited to dry flies only; you can fish streamers, nymphs, indicators or any other method that is appealing to you.  The best part is that every technique can be successful.  You may also find that as you learn more about your pond and the species that live in it that you can focus your efforts on different species and adapt your fishing to specific fish on each trip you make.  One day it may be small poppers for bluegills, the next may be throwing frog patterns near lily pads for bass.  The options are endless and every trip to a small pond can be rewarding and relaxing.

The equipment needed to get started fishing these small bodies of water is pretty simple.  For sunfish a 3 weight will provide enough backbone to do what needs done.  If you plan to pursue bass a five or six weight may be better suited to your needs depending on the size of the bass you are going after.  As for flies, the panfish will eat nearly anything they can fit in their mouth.  Bead head nymphs, crickets, hoppers and small poppers are favorites of mine but feel free to experiment and try new things, you never know when something different will be the hot fly of the day.

Fast forward and here I am 31 years old and I still find myself walking that field edge and crossing that field to the same small farm pond that has been on the family farm for years.  The difference today is that I no longer catch containers full of insects or struggle with the ideas of how to place them ever so gently on the surface of the pond.  Today I cross the field with a fly rod and reel and a small box of flies in my pocket.  As I approach the edge of the pond and the hoppers scatter and fall to the surface, I can’t help but smile as the blue gills dart about sucking them up one at a time.  I sit undetected back in the weeds and pull the box of flies from my pocket.  There I see a Dave’s hopper and grin as I take it out and tie it to my tippet.  From a crouched position I make a steeple cast to avoid the tall grass surrounding the pond and I place the hopper on the water.  Two twitches later and a hefty eight inch bluegill is struggling on the end of my three weight.  He’s not the biggest fish in the pond, he’s not as pretty as many of the trout I have caught, but on a day when my time is limited he’s what is available and to me any time spent fishing  on any body of water is better than sitting at the house not fishing at all.

Tight lines to everyone and if you get the chance to explore a local pond you should do it.  You never know when you just might find a honey hole right in your own back yard.