Help The Florida Keys Angling Community Recover From Irma

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Images of the lower Florida Keys after the devastation of Hurricane Irma tell a bleak story.

The image above is a spot which may be familiar to many anglers. The former site of the marina at old Wooden Bridge. Now a trash-strewn vacant lot. Scanning the NOAA satellite images of the lower Keys, its hard to form a clear picture of the damage. One house may seem fine, while the house next-door is flattened. When I talk to my friends, who are just now returning to see how much of their lives are left, they respond just as you’d expect a Keys veteran to.

“It could be a lot worse,” they tell me, one after another.

I know that’s more a comment on the irrepressible spirit of the Keys than it is a realistic assessment of the situation. Things are plenty bad and folks in the Keys will need plenty of help. Things could indeed be worse and, with any luck, they won’t be.

Most anglers know enough to know that fishing guides live pretty close to the edge. It’s a rewarding job but the reward isn’t usually monetary. In times like these, guides are often the hardest hit. In a fishery like the Keys, where we depend on the guide community so heavily, a tragedy like Irma can affect us all.

A storm threatens a flats guide twice. Once with the loss of home and property and again with the loss of income. Often the second is the most devastating. Fortunately there are a couple of things we can all do to help.

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust along with the Guides Trust Foundation have

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Sunday Classic / Attractor Flies in Tandem Rigs

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Problems are just part of the game and the better you are at solving them, the more effective an angler you will be. Often the solutions require tactics that are unusual or counter intuitive. When fish are being stubborn a creative solution may be just what is needed.

On our recent trip to the Owyhee River in Oregon, Kent and I encountered such a problem. The Owyhee (the part we were fishing) is a tailwater. It’s a highly pressured and very technical fishery full of picky brown trout. That’s a big enough problem but there were other factors we were dealing with as well.

The Owyhee has an amazingly abundant insect population and the insects are very small. This means that your #22 fly is competing for the fish’s attention with thousands of tasty naturals. The fish do not have to move for food so the only way to feed them is to put the fly right on their nose.

No problem, and anglers generally do this by targeting rising fish because the waters of the Owyhee are stained with dissolved lime and calcium carbonate, a very fine silt that does not settle and gives the water an opaque green tint. The color makes it nearly impossible to sight fish when there are no fish rising. When we were there strong winds had put off the hatches so we were fishing blind. We were catching fish fairly regularly by reading water and being persistent and observant, but I kept thinking there had to be a better approach.

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Saturday Shoutout / Restoring Decency

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I have always spoken out strongly against fishing tournaments where fish are killed.

That’s a conviction that I stand by, and before now, I’ve never read anything on the topic that changed the way I felt about it. This essay by Ted Williams, for The Blog Nature just may have. I have always considered only the negative effects of these tournaments on the fish. I never stopped to think about what they might be doing to the angling community.

“The trouble with tournaments is not so much what they do to fish but what they do to people.”

This is a thought provoking read. Whichever side of the discussion you may be on, it’s well worth your time. Like me, you may come away seeing things differently.


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New Rods, Reels And Kits From Echo

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Quality fly-fishing rods and reels at real-world prices, that’s Echo.

Some very cool offerings this year from one of my favorite fly fishing brands. New kits for beginning anglers come with rod, reel, line and case for $250. New switch and spey models in the Swing family of rods and some remarkable new BAG fiberglass rods in 8 foot length. These rods feel amazing. If you are a glass-head, you need to cast these rods.

Perhaps most exciting is the new Bravo reel. A serious fish stopper with a sealed carbon fiber drag. The fit and finish of these reels is way beyond what you’d expect at their $140 price tag. The drag is designed to be disassembled and cleaned, if necessary, without tools so that it can be done by the angler, on the river.


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Don’t get yourself caught in a tight spot!

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By Justin Pickett


Recently, I headed up north with a great friend of mine to fish a small stream in north Georgia. Over the past couple of years this destination had become one of our favorite pieces of water. The main reasons being the number of large brown trout found there, and how it seemed one of us would hook up with one these large residents every time we wet a line in its waters.

That Spring day was perfect. Cool temps. Cloudy skies. The water was just a bit stained from the rain the night prior.

We headed straight for the section of stream where, historically, we’ve had the best luck hooking up with some nice brown trout. Fishing our way up through this section, we were coming up empty handed. Only a couple of eager rainbows had bent our rods during the first couple of hours.

We typically fish together with alternating casts and different rigs. This has always proven successful, but today I decided to depart from our usual method and jump ahead of my fishing buddy. Straying further upstream, I figured we’d just holler at each other should we need help with something.

I approached a run that just looked fishy as hell. A shallow section of water dumped into a deep bucket and then cut under the far bank, which was lined with rhododendrons. At the tail of the run a tree branched out over the water providing shade and cover. It had trophy trout sanctuary written all over it.

My euro-rig that day consisted of a #6 black stonefly nymph, trailed by a #6 Vladi worm, and I had them tied to 3x and 4x fluoro tippet respectively. To say, I have confidence in this tandem on days where the water is stained, is an understatement.

On the second drift through the meat of this run, my rod translated a solid thump in the line. I lifted the rod tip and set the hook hard, and immediately I can feel

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How to Stop the Dreaded Fly Fishing Birds Nest

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Does this look familiar?

Just about every angler has created this tangled artwork at some point, some more than others. I’m pretty good at untangling knots because I get more practice than the average angler from my guiding, but even this one required me to break out a fresh leader and completely re-rig. If you find yourself untangling knots more than you’re fishing, try fixing the problem by following these five helpful tips.

1. Watch your forward cast and backcast when false casting.
“In the film A River Runs Through It”, Jerry Siem (one of the casting stuntmen) never watched his backcast. It’s important to note that his fly casting skill level ranks among the best in the world, which allowed him to get away without doing this. It’s also pertinent to point out he was casting a single dry fly in the movie scene, not a tandem nymph rig with split-shot and a strike indicator. Could he have made the same casts in the movie with a tandem nymph rig without tangles, of course he could, but that doesn’t mean every other angler out there should try to mimic him. The majority of the best casters in the world watch their backcast, especially when they’re fly fishing in areas where casting room is limited. Your first step to limiting the number of tangles you create on the river is to watch your forward and backcast diligently. Your timing will be better, you’ll find you won’t need to make as many false casts, and you’ll keep your flies out of the trees and bushes.

2. Cast with grace, not with power and muscle.
Many fly anglers out there cast their fly rod much harder than they need to. So hard in many cases, that they end up overloading the rod and also get a out of control sling shot effect with their flies. Let your fly rod do the work by executing a

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The Articulated Aggravator and Dubbing Loop Platen

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By Herman deGala

As with most of the flies that I design I was trying to solve a problem when I created the Articulated Aggravator.

I was looking for a fly that was different from what I was already fishing for smallies, amongst the riprap of a dam. I needed something I could throw into the face of the dam, which would drop as it followed the face of the dam, where the smallies are often hunting in the rocks looking for juvenile crawdads.

I also wanted the fly to have a lot of movement as it was stripped. I have noticed that the crawdads are not just one color but have a variety colors such as olive, orange, rust and even touches of blue. I wanted the fly to have a variegated texture like the crawdads on these rocks.

I was also looking for a material that was relatively cheap and available. I always get turkey quills, pheasant rumps and pheasant tails from my hunting friends during the season. I have always admired Jerry French’s method for tying composite loops and his use of materials. I wanted to use these techniques but needed a way to scale it down for my target species.

The answer was a simple

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Passing the Torch

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There is nothing more rewarding, for an angler, than teaching their kids to fish.

Well, perhaps watching your son become an accomplished and personable young man and, if you happen to be one of the top flats guides on the planet, seeing that young man follow in your footsteps and take his place on the platform. Yeah, I imagine that’s pretty cool too.

When I first met B.J. Chard he was about half the size of the fish I had just photographed with his dad, Bruce. Just tall enough to lean on, B.J. was groovy little hockey kid with long hair and a stocking cap. He looked me right in the eye, shook my hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you.” I was immediately struck by what a well behaved and engaging kid he was.

Bruce and I were headed to South Andros on a charter flight out of Fort Lauderdale, when a freak winter storm hit south Florida. It snowed in Homestead that night and our flight was grounded. We took B.J. to see Avatar in the theater. The temperature dropped to 21 degrees that night and there were fish-kills all across south Florida and the Keys. I remember seeing photos of skiffs full of dead bonefish scooped from the surface of some of my favorite flats. It was January of 2010, and the fishery has only now recovered from that night.

Those images seem light years away as I cast to schools of hungry bones from the bow of a Dolphin Superskiff. Everything seems back to normal, except now

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Sunday Classic / Gold Nugget

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I’m a big fan of that Gold Rush TV show filmed up in Alaska. I don’t know what it is about that show but I’m hooked. Go ahead, call me dumb for wasting my time watching it, I’m just dying to see one of those crews dig up a fortune of gold that will give all of their families peace, security and well being. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after watching Gold Rush for almost three seasons now, it’s that gold mining does not come easy. It requires every ounce of energy and stubborn persistence to find enough gold for you to come out ahead, and then, even the biggest of crews can get outperformed by one lucky schmuck with a metal detector. Just ask that Australian amateur gold prospector with a metal detector who recently found a 12-pound nugget worth well over $300,000. Sometimes, no matter how diligent you are, it all boils down to timing and luck. The entire deal felt eerily similar to a giant 26″+ wild brown trout a client of mine landed last week.

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Saturday Shoutout / Argentina Calling

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5 Awesome Videos!

Excited doesn’t come close to expressing how I feel about my upcoming trip to Argentina.

In February of 2018 I’ll be taking one of the most exciting fly fishing trips of my life. The Argentina double header. Four days floating the famed Rio Limay in Patagonia, then of to the jungle of the north for four days of golden dorado on the epic Rio Parana. I’ve done each of these trips individually but combining them is just an unbelievable opportunity.

I booked my flight today and the anticipation is about to kill me. I shouldn’t have to manage it alone, so I’m sharing it with you! Here are 5 great videos featuring the rivers and species we’ll be targeting. Nine members of the G&G family will be along on this trip, so look for lots of photos and articles in March.

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