Opening Day

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Is the end of the beginning the beginning of the end?

For years, maybe decades, my buddy Dan and I have kept a tradition. To be on Dan’s home water together on opening day of trout season. This is a high point on the calendar for me. Special in a lot of ways. The fishing is always epic, as the trout have had the cooler months to rest and forget what flies look like, but there’s much more to it.

For me it’s a chance to get on the water with a dear friend who has done more for me than I can list, and also a chance to remember where I come from. I am so fortunate to make my living in fly fishing. I get to fish some amazing places with some amazing anglers, and that was kind of the plan, but the fly fishing world I live in now is nothing like what I pictured when I started carrying my camera on the river.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. Far from it. I’ve kind of won the lottery. It’s just that a lot of the things that drew me to fly fishing are very hard to come by now that it’s a job. When I fish with Dan there is no agenda, no expectations, no shot list. We just fish. From the looks of it however, this will be our last opening day and there’s a whole lot more at stake than my and Dan’s tradition.

The Georgia trout season is a little complicated. There are streams which are designated as seasonal and some which are year-round. Seasonal streams are open to fishing from the last weekend in March thru the end of October and may only be fished sun-up to sun-down. Year-round streams are always open and may be fished at night.

These are old regulations and good ones. The seasonal streams were clearly chosen as important waters where wild trout reproduction is at its best. The closure protects these streams during the spawning seasons of all three trout species which live here. It’s a good regulation in a state known for bad management. A relic put in place by men who understood the importance of these wild fish. Something our current officials have forgotten.

In two weeks all of that is about to change. The Georgia DNR is poised to change the regulations, doing away with trout season. When this happens all trout streams in Georgia will be under the regulations previously used for year-round streams. It’s a ill conceived plan, which makes no allowances for the increased fishing pressure and will likely have dramatic consequences. A management style we have become too familiar with in recent years.

When asked, by a concerned angler, if Georgia could implement some regulation to protect the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, our only native trout, a DNR regional supervisor gave this mind numbing answer.

“What’s the point? Those fish only live four or five years.”

What does the future look like for wild trout in Georgia when the supervisor overseeing the region containing all of the state’s trout water doesn’t understand the difference between the lifespan of an individual and the perpetuation of a species?

HERE’S THE PROBLEM WITH THE CHANGE IN THE TROUT SEASON.

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Sunday Classic / Traditional Old-School Nymphs Catch Trout, Don’t Forget It

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GREAT ISN’T GREAT ENOUGH, OR IS IT?

Every year, I spend quite a bit of time scouring the interweb and flipping through numerous fly company catalogs, all in the effort to stay up to date with the latest new fly pattern creations. Many are just variations of already existing fly patterns, but quite often it’s a new fly tying material that’s created, manipulated, or that’s managed to stay under the radar and discovered, that’s used to develop these new fly patterns. I usually spend my time reviewing the new flies and their recipes, and hear my inner-voice chattering over and over, “why didn’t you come up with that fly pattern, dumby”. But even after purchasing and tying several dozen of the new fly patterns, many of them ultimately fall short on the water of producing trout numbers like my traditional old-school standby nymphs do. Why is that?

I think the the fly tying world is very similar to the rod manufacturing world, where a company builds a great fly rod that 90% of fly anglers love, and then a couple years down the road they discontinue the rod line, to make room for the introduction of the next innovative fly rod. Quite often, in my opinion though, that new rod design’s performance falls short of its predecessor. I know this process is called product life cycle, and it will continue to happen again and again, but it sure seems like we’re in way too much of a hurry to move on, and should instead be more content with sticking with a great product longer. It’s the notion that great isn’t great enough, and that we should retire the greats, in the hopes we can find something, for lack of a better word, that’s perfect. The problem is, there’s no such thing. No one product will work perfect for the infinite number of situations it will encounter on the water. My point being, in the target zone and scope of fly patterns at least, it may benefit many of us if we stop getting lost in creating and searching for the next best fly pattern, and instead spend more time just fishing the fly patterns that have proven to catch fish for us consistently for the past century.

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Saturday Shoutout / Waisted Youth

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ONE OF MY BEST FISHING BUDDIES WRITING ABOUT ONE OF MY FAVORITE GUIDES. HOW CAN I PASS THAT UP?

I was in the Bahamas recently for the G&G Bonefish School. My good buddy Rich Hohne was along representing for the folks at Simms who generously donated some sweet gear for all of our anglers. Rich got the chance to spend a day on the boat with resident badass, Jose Sands. That’s always an experience.

Anyone who guides saltwater, and does it well, has my respect. If they are willing to go out of their way to teach their clients, that respect is doubled. I have learned much of what I know about Bonefishing from Jose and the many hours spent on his boat have developed a deep respect that flows both ways.

On his blog, “A Wasted Youth” Rich looks at his day on the water with Jose through new eyes and he takes away some lessons that each of us can stand to learn. Rich Hone is one of the smartest guys I know and a fine writer to boot. Take a ride on a flats boat with him and Jose.

FISHING WITH AN OUTLAW

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New Rods From Winston

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One of the best known names in fly rods makes some interesting moves in 2015.

Winston is known for smooth powerful action and made-in-America quality. Neither of those things has changed but the the new Nexus and Micro Spey rod are both departures of a kind. Both rods show Winston’s commitment to quality while proving they are looking ahead.

The Nexus is Winston’s entry into the mid-priced American-made market. It’s a departure from the norm in two ways. First, it’s a fast action rod. That’s one thing Winston has never been known for and they’ve done a nice job of it. The Nexus steps up the pace without losing the feel Winston rods are known for. Second, it retails for $475. Some troll will make a snarky comment about it but that’s a great price for an American made rod with a lifetime warranty.

The Micro Spey rods are based on a very cool idea. Spey caster want light weight spey rods, not switch rods. While switch rods are basically small Spey rods, their action is usually a compromise. What the gain for single hand casting is taken away from two hand performance. These little beauties are true Spey rod tapers made for two hand casting. Actual Spey rods for trout. Pretty cool.

I’ve always loved Winston rods. If you do too, these are worth checking out. In this video Johnny Spillane talks with Adam Hutchison and Tom Larimer about the new Nexus and Micro Spey fly rods from Winston.

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Your Odds Go Way Up When You See The Fish

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Seeing fish equals catching fish.

More than casting. More than fly selection. More than any other skill, one thing separates highly effective anglers. The ability to see fish.

I don’t care if it’s tarpon or trout, bonefish or bass, seeing the fish is the best first step to catching the fish. For some species it’s absolutely crucial. Seeing the fish allows you to plan your presentation, observe the fishes behavior and know with 100% certainty when it has eaten your fly. It’s the difference between winging it and applying real skill and technique. There is no substitute for this tactical advantage.

Far too many anglers start with the assumption they can not or will not see fish. And they don’t, either because they don’t have the confidence or because they don’t try. If you slow down, and take the time to look, you will find a world of possibilities opens up.

REASONS YOU SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME LOOKING FOR FISH

edit-7290-2-2•Spotting fish allows you to plan your presentation. Get in the right position, get your rid dialed in, figure out how far you need to lead the fish or how to get the best drift.

•Watching fish let’s you

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Don’t Keep Staring in One Place if You’re Seeing Nada

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“IT’S VERY RARE THAT ANY TWO PEOPLE, MUCH LESS A GUIDE AND CLIENT, WILL SEE EYE TO EYE”

My recent trip to the Bahamas, fly fishing for bonefish at the wonderful Andros South Lodge, I got a chance to work out a bunch of kinks in my flats fishing. From the help of my buddies, the helpful staff on hand and the fantastic bahamian guides, I eventually got to the point where I could respectfully hold my own on the flats. Despite me being in paradise there were a few times during the trip when I found myself hanging my head.

The first problem I had was letting my mind get in the way of my fishing. That was to be expected though, since I’m most comfortable on the cold water streams and rivers, and it had been several years since I’d last chased the grey ghost on the flats. When I trout fish, I don’t have to think about my casts much these days and my confidence is through the roof. This is because I do it day in and day out. Take me to saltwater though, where I only make a few trips a year, and my confidence drops and the first couple days I find myself constantly battling my inner thoughts and nerves.

I’m sure many of you out there no where I’m coming from. Anytime you’re lacking confidence and dealing with nerves you’re going to fish at half your potential. And there’s no place this holds true more than standing on the bow of a skiff on the saltwater flats. Lesson learned, if you want to fish more effectively and maximize your success when fishing locations that aren’t your norm, you have to stay relaxed, keep your confidence no matter what, and learn to let the bad casts roll off your back.

My next problem I had during the trip, and the point for writing this post, was learning how to quickly spot the bonefish my guide was calling out to me. I missed countless shots during the week because

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Fishing New Water

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By Jason Tucker The time has come in my life where I want to expand my horizons. I want to light out, free myself from the confines of my routine, my local area, my set habits. It’s true that there are still many rivers, runs, hatches and fisheries I have yet to explore in my native Michigan, but the world is a big place. There’s a lot of water out there. While there are worse things in life than exploring Michigan’s water, it would be a shame to go through life without experiencing other places. My interests and aspirations are as varied as classic Western fishing in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, or remote brook trout in Labrador and Ontario, to bonefish on the flats of the Bahamas and Oahu. Somewhere in the back of my fantasies lurks one fish, the permit. That may be a bit down the pike, but someday. I hope. I recently had the opportunity to get out of Northern Michigan for a few weeks and head south, get out of the cold for a while. This winter isn’t as bad as the last, but it’s still pretty bad. I got the invitation to go spend the winter in Georgia with friends, and so I took them up on it. The problem is that they are not fly fishing friends, a character flaw that I had to overlook. A big draw for me was the idea of being able to explore new water that is fly-fishable year round. I’ve never caught a trout on a dry fly in January and the thought appealed to me. For me Georgia is a blank slate. I know they have trout streams and even some native brook trout in the northern mountains, but I personally associate the south with catfish, bream … Continue reading

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