April 29, 2008

buffalo on the fly

It has been ten days since I last held a buffalo in my hands. I am going through withdrawl.

I don't know how I lasted all winter. Visions of these magnificent fish haunted me through those long months; images of lost fish replayed over and over in my head. The feeling of a hook pulling through a lip and a suddenly limp rod, crushing your spirit.

I was not able to land one single buffalo on a fly last season. Many times I had a buffalo hooked, only to have the hook pull out or have the fish turn in to the current and break off. It was frustrating. I had caught a couple small ones on a jig and twister tail, but that was not the same. Fishing buffalo on the fly is a challenge. How do you get a fish that primarily feeds on zooplankton and filamentous algae to take a fly?

I spent some time this winter and developed a couple of fly patterns that I felt would be successful for taking buffalo. The first was my buffalo soljah pattern. It is a cross between a pheasant tail nymph and a large chironomid (midge) pattern. The red wire rib was a key component to this pattern. I also tied a variation of this pattern with green wire, and black hackled version with red wire. So far, I have caught buffalo this season on the original and black variation patterns. I also developed another interesting pattern this winter, my antron special nymph. While I was tying those buffalo soljahs, I was looking for a material that would be a lot more durable than pheasant tail fibers, yet would still hold shape and impart movement in the water. I came up with antron yarn. I experimented a bit and the special nymph was borne. The entire fly is made from antron yarn, save the bead head, mylar wingcase and wire rib. This fly has been very successful so far this winter and has been a great multi species fly.

I have had six bigmouth buffalo at hand so far this season in five outings. I really can't complain, after all, it is only April. However, the power of addiction is strong, and I am longing for more. I just can't keep these fish out of my thoughts.

And these visions of Buffalo that conquer my mind...

April 27, 2008

Smoked fish.

A winter staple in these parts, I typically smoke two or three batches of fish each winter. I was lazy this year and finally put my first batch of the season in the smoker on April 27, typically about 3 months later than usual. Never mind the fact that I had to shovel out nearly three feet of fresh snow from my back porch just to get the smoker out. Go figure.

Nothing beats fresh smoked trout and ciscos straight out of the smoker. A real treat. Since I had some space, I also threw in some country-style boneless pork ribs, to be enjoyed later.


I love the fact that I can find solitude in own my backyard. I took full advantage of the fresh snow to get in one last snowshoe of the season.

April 26, 2008

Local snowfall reports range from twelve to eighteen inches of snow. Crazy.

April 25, 2008

A law enforcement spotter in Detroit Lakes reported 8 inches of snow at 8:21 pm. An additional night time snow accumulation of 7 to 11 inches is forecasted by the NWS. Over three feet of snow in Detroit Lakes for the month of April? I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

April has been a loooong month.

April 23, 2008

I tied up a few different versions of prince nymphs last night. I had some pearl core braid (black)that was peacock colored. I was looking for something a little more durable than peacock herl.

I also have some cool chenille that is called glimmer chenille. It is peacock colored. I tied a real webby saddle hackle for the collar. It's almost like a wet fly. I fished this pattern this morning and caught plenty of white suckers on it. I tied it with wire instead of tinsel for more durability. I like it a lot.

A couple more whiteys from this morning. I was able to hit my favorite spring spot one last time before they posted in closed to angling this afternoon. Ended up catching about a dozen suckers. Had a couple walleyes take my fly this morning, a size 8 beadhead prince nymph, including a nice female. I was trying to be as selective as I could to avoid them, but they were in there thick as thieves mixed in with the suckers. I wasn't planning on a walleye taking a small nymph.
On the down side of things, I did some scouting early this morning for some new spots and had no luck. Not one fish. I'll have to do some more homework.

April 22, 2008

I scouted out a section of the upper Otter Tail river, where I normally have success finding white suckers early in the spawning run. When I got there I found a huge pod of suckers stacked up in a current eddy. I quickly tied on a beadhead prince nymph and soon there after had my first white sucker of the year on the receiving end of the hook. It was a pretty stout fish. I quickly headed back to the pod and landed about another half dozen fish before I had to leave. That was fun! That was what I had been waiting for all spring.

Unfortunately, effective in 2008, this section of river is subject to closure due to the occurrence of heavy walleye spawning activity. This section will be closed tomorrow until May 9. I can't believe that I am getting pimped by the walleye! This was one of my go-to spring sucker spots. It was only about 5 minutes from my house. That's not the kicker, though. The section of the Pelican River from the outlet at Big Detroit Lake up to US Hwy 10 will be closed due to walleye spawning. That means I will not be able to fish suckers in my backyard. Unbelievable. Due to the lengthy legislative rule making process, there was a delay to close that section this year, but it will likely be in place next spring. That's tough to take.

Looks like I need to do some scouting for more spring sucker spots that are nearby, now that those other sections are closed. Luckily, I got a tip on a spot about 15 minutes away. Sounds like I've got another mission.
White Sucker, Catostomus commersoni

April 20, 2008

There was mass mayhem on the river this weekend: the redhorse were biting. Turbid waters from the spring melt caused me to put the flies away after an hour and a half and fashion the garden hackle. The day turned to be nothing short of phenomenal. I brought nearly 50 fish to hand on Saturday, including a golden redhorse and a shorthead redhorse, both firsts for me. The goldens were like prize fighters; I'd like to have a few more bouts with them season. I caught nearly a dozen silvers; I caught three of them on consecutive casts/drifts. My wrist was sore from all the rod pumping action. The channel cats were on a feeding frenzy as well, probably caught nearly two dozen of them. They were a nuisance to keep off of my bait. You know it was a good day when you complain about catching too many fish. Here's some photos to remember the day. Cheers!


This beast lives to swim another day

Shorthead Redhorse, Moxostoma macrolepidotum

Golden Redhorse, Moxostoma erythrurum

April 17, 2008

It was a slow day today. The water was real cloudy due to the recent runoff and higher spring flows. I had to blind nymph making hookups a lot more difficult to detect. One carp, a bigmouth buffalo, a silver redhorse, two pike and a half dozen small channel cats. The pike hit a krystal chenille scud pattern and a san juan carp killer. Interesting to say the least, and certainly unexpected. Those channel cats certainly were feisty little devils, and hit the san juan carp killer.

The san juan carp killer was definitely the fly of the day. I'll need to tie up a bunch more though, as the glass beads are fragile and tend to fall off the hook after awhile. Maybe I'll need to try some plastic beads instead. I tried the clam fly today for little bit with no success. I will give it an honest try once the water clears up later this spring. The season is still young!

Silver Redhorse, Moxostoma anisurum

April 16, 2008

The walleye spawning station went in at work this week. Apparently the water temps will be warm enough for walleyes to start spawning by this weekend. Ok, well maybe not, but I did see a northern in the rapids at Dunton Locks yesterday, and apparently there were a few northerns and suckers that came into the net last night. Two white suckers. Now there's some hope that soon the suckers will be running.

I'll be there ready with nymphs in hand.

April 12, 2008

Over two feet of snow in one week. In April. Only in Minnesota.

April 8, 2008

Mississippi River, Pool 2 report:

I don't know how Marc didn't manage to fall off of this snag pile. It was pretty comical watching him teeter his way out there.

Here's a photo of his big catch of the weekend.

Hee hee! The weekend was otherwise considered a bust.

April 7, 2008

I arrived home this afternoon from a busted weekend of fishing in the metro to a lovely 13" inches of wet, sloppy, sticky snow. The 3' windrow of snow left from the plow effectively blocked access to my driveway, so Gretchen had to sit on the side of the street in the truck for a half-hour while I fool-heartedly snowblowed a path in to the house.


So much for spring....

April 3, 2008

Remember the brown antron special nymph I tied a while back? I suggest you fill your bugger barn with those bad boys as they are deadly. Certified buffalo slayers.

No permit to carry necessary.

Bigmouth Buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus

Common carp, Cyprinus carpio

Quillback Carpsucker, Carpiodes cyprinus.

April 2, 2008

My new Dyna-King Barracuda Trekker vise arrived yesterday, finally. It's a little different than my old HMH Silhouette, but very capable. I only got to tie a half dozen flies on it last night, but so far I am happy with it.

Now I can finish tying up a bunch more flies for the season before fishing picks up within the next few weeks.

San Juan Carp Killer

hook: Size 6 Eagle Claw kahle or Mustad 37160
weight: 6/0 red glass bead
thread: 6/0 UNI, red
body: micro chenille, red
tail: marabou, red; krystal flash, red

Slide between 1 to 3 beads on the hook shank; place hook in vise Tie in your thread towards the rear of the hook, just above the hook bend. Tie in a small pinch of marabou, and 4 or 5 strands of krystal flash. Tie in the micro chenille. Whip finish, tie off and trim. Push the beads back toward the rear of the hook. Reattach thread about a third of the hook shank back from the eye. Pull the micro chenille forward, and tie in to the hook shank. Make around 6 turns of thread in front of the micro chenille to make it stand up. Whip finish and tie off. Melt the tip of the micro chenille using a lighter or other heat source. Only a little heat is necessary to melt the micro chenille, be careful. Optional: Use a Sharpie, or waterproof marker to put a dot on the micro chenille above the hook eye (towards the "head").

This fly pattern was from a fly swap I participated in. The contributor (Marc) borrowed this pattern/fly from a trout guide that also loves to fly fish for carp. He says the hook is the key. He's tried to use scud hooks, but has had much better hook up ratio with these mustads. Also add between 1 to 3 beads depending how deep the fly will be fished. Leaving a space for the beads to slide around, and click together is another important aspect of the tie.
There is much promise for this fly this season, as Marc has already hooked his first carp of the season using this fly. I hope to do the same.