Fly Fishing Bass Ponds 102

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UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT TYPES OF STRUCTURE AND HOW TO FISH THEM

I promised everyone I’d write a Fly Fishing Bass Ponds 102, if people showed enough interest from my 101 post. I was blown away from the emails and comments that flooded in, after the first post went live. I covered quite a few topics in the first post but here’s a few more tidbits of information for all you warm-water fly fishing junkies out there.

As a little kid, I was a bass fishing maniac. A good friend of my Father’s fished a lot of tournaments for fun and he took it upon himself to take me under his wing, and teach me the skills I’d needed to become a proficient bass fisherman. One of the greatest things he did during his mentorship was take me to several professional bass fishing seminars. On several different occasions, I had a front row seat to listen to Hall of Fame bass fishing legends like Bill Dance, Denny Brauer, Rick Clunn, and Larry Nixon. Notepad and pen in hand, I wrote as fast as I my fingers would move as the pros talked about how they consistently caught bass. It was at these seminars that I learned the behavior of bass and how to catch them. If you want to improve your warm-water fishing, I highly recommend attending a seminar in your area. Most are reasonably inexpensive, and If you don’t walk away with more knowledge afterwards, you either have an ego that needs to be checked, or you weren’t listening. Most of what you’ll find the professionals talking about is catered towards fishing large lakes, but almost all of the information can be converted and used for fishing on bass ponds.

One recurring theme I noticed is that everyone of those bass fishing legends talked in great detail about how important it was to understand and locate structure. Talking about bass structure is no different than me talking to my clients about reading trout water. Both are critical for anglers, because it allows them to quickly locate hotspots, but more importantly, it allows anglers to distinguish productive water from unproductive water. Structure is anything in the water that fish are drawn to that allows them to live comfortably and feeding efficiently. Structure serves two purposes for bass. One, it provides habitat that becomes a magnet for their forage food, and bass always live close to their food sources. Two, it provides highly efficient ambush points for bass to camouflage themselves so they can feed easily. Structure can be above the surface, on the surface or below the surface. Just remember that there’s two main types of structure. The first is cover, such as lily pads, weed beds (ex. hydrilla or millfoi), overhanging foilage along the banks, docks or floating or submerged wood cover. The second form of structure is irregularities of the bottom and composition of the water you’re fishing. Examples of this would be creek channels, flats adjacent to deep water, edges (sand or mud bottom substrate changing to rock or deep weed beds meeting open water). If you’re lucky enough to ever find both types of structure together you’ve hit the jackpot. It should be loaded with a high concentration of bass, and should also hold fish pretty much year round. Search out, locate and spend your time focusing on fishing these two types of structures, and you’ll eventually find success. Again, this concept is just like trout fishing, where I instruct my clients to pass over empty or dead water and search out prime habitat that provides trout what they need to survive. The only time structure can be thrown out the window is when bass are chasing baitfish out in open water. It’s not really a problem in bass ponds though, because there’s usually not enough water available, but keep it in mind, if you’re fishing larger water in a boat, and you see bait fish activity on the surface and sporadic topwater bites, it should be a clue that bass are chasing baitfish. However, even in this scenario, there’s a good chance structure will be located near by because bass use it to corral and concentrate the schools of baitfish to feed on them more efficiently. In ponds bass usually corral forage food to structure or to the banks.

Aquatic Vegetation
Generally, there’s two kinds of aquatic vegetation you should locate and fish. The first type are weed beds that root from the bottom and grow to the surface, forming mats. Examples of this kind of aquatic vegetation would be lily pads, hydrilla or milfoil. You’ll want to be fishing fly patterns here that have good weed guards so you can retrieve your fly without snagging or picking up vegetation every cast. I focus first on presenting my fly to the edges of the surface vegetation, where the weeds stop and the open water begins. After I do that, I’ll then cover the vegetation with follow up presentations inwards. Working my way farther and farther into the vegetation, with each consecutive cast. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, that just because the weeds are thick that the bass can’t see your fly well enough to eat it. I’ve caught some of my largest bass on ponds in places like this. I’ll never forget a nine pound bass I landed, that busted through a solid foot of hydrilla to eat my fly. There’s no way it could have seen my fly, but it utilized its inner ear and lateral line together and that allowed it to pickup enough subtle high and low frequency vibrations to track my fly in the water, just like state of the art radar or sonar equipment. Lastly, look for openings or pot holes in surface vegetation mats. Work your fly over the mat and when you get to the open spot, let it rest or sink into the hole. Bass often will hold close to the locations, but it’s also one of the few spots you can present your fly below the vegetation in these areas, and that will allow you to get your fly closer to the bass and increase your chances of hooking up. My two favorite flies for fishing surface vegetation are weedless frog patterns and long weedless worm style flies (long zonker or palmered chenille flies). One main tying material I use for these worm patterns are wide shoe lace strings that you can purchase at your local sporting goods or foot locker store. They usually have them available in most colors, even fluorescent and chartreuse. One day I’ll showcase the fly pattern on the blog. For now, hopefully it will spark enough interest for you to experiment tying a similar version yourself.

The second form of aquatic vegetation you’ll run into is deep water weeds. You won’t be able to see it but you’ll notice tidbits of it fouled on your fly after retrieves. They usually are found in five to ten feet of water. Sometimes more or less depending on how clear or muddy the water is. Theres always a little space between the weeds and the bottom, and that’s where the bass like to hold. A tungsten cone head long worm style fly does a great job of working through the grass without picking it all up. It’s tedious fishing, but there are times when the bass will be concentrated in this deep water vegetation on ponds and you’ll find great success if you

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What Cataracts Have Taught Me About Seeing Fish

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There’s more to spotting fish than having good eyes, so don’t assume you can’t see them.

I’m used to being told I have good eyes. Among anglers, that means the ability to spot fish. In truth, I have never had good eyes. I’ve worn glasses my whole life and had to remember where I put them at night because I couldn’t find my glasses, without my glasses. Thanks to the great prescription program at Smith Optics, I’ve always had good fishing glasses and could see well enough. It wasn’t until I developed aggressive cataracts, last year, that I really started to struggle.

It’s no secret that I do a lot of bonefishing. They don’t call bonefish the ghosts of the flats for no reason. Their natural camouflage makes them very difficult to see. When I started losing my sight, my greatest fear was that I would no longer be able to spot bonefish. This fear only got worse in the weeks following my first lens replacement surgery. My vision was pretty poor at first and even now, a month past my second surgery, it isn’t what I’d like. I’m confident that it will get to where I want it, but when I headed to Abaco for bonefish, I was pretty nervous about how I would perform.

It turns out I did pretty good. It was a huge relief to see my first bonefish, and even better to hear, “good eyes,” when I spotted a fish before my guide. Still, my new eyes are not what they should be and it taught me a few things about what it means to see fish. I see plenty of anglers give up on the idea that they will be able to see fish before they cast to them. If that sounds familiar, here are a few things to think about when you’re looking for fish.

You can actually find fish with surprisingly poor visual acuity.

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Dreaming of Steelhead

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Not epic, fish hoisting, hero shoting, steelhead fishing but, ass backwards, pointless, penitent steelhead fishing. Swinging tiny flies on floating lines in the turbid, chocolate waters of spring run off (and this is my favorite part) in Colorado’s Black Canyon. If you’re not a steelheader, I’ll break this down for you C.G. Jung style.

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Eye Surgery Update #7

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Who’s ready for some good news?

Surgery number seven was a success. My Retina is stable and, so far, no complications. I’m 17 days post-op today and the doctor gives me a thumbs up. If everything goes well just one more surgery. This is the best news we could hope for.

For now my job is just to take care of myself, be healthy, and try to get back in shape a little while I can. We will reevaluate in February and, if nothing has changed, schedule surgery number eight. The goal of the next surgery is to remove the silicon oil, put in my eye to stabilize the retina like a cast. This procedure is not without risk. Nothing is when it comes to your eyes. The doctor judges a one in twenty chance that my retina could detach again, most likely on the operating table. If that were to happen, we’d be back to square one with limited options. I feel very positive though. I have absolute confidence in my doctor and my body feels like I am healing and getting stronger. I really feel like I’ve turned a corner.

Removing the oil from my eye will have a couple of benefits. There will be some visual improvement, though it will be modest. My macula is pretty much shot so 20/200 vision is about as good as I can expect. I will however, hopefully, see two big improvements. The optical index of the oil causes double vision, especially at close distance. That should be gone once the oil is removed and my brain gets used to the new signal. The other big change relates to the condition of the oil. With time, the oil emulsifies, becoming cloudy with more and more bubbles in it. Right now it’s kind of like a snow globe. If I hold still, with my head vertical, it clears up reasonably well. If I look down or move around a lot, it looks like I have a piece of masking tape on my glasses. I try not to complain, but it is very annoying. That should disappear too.

The big benefits to the oil removal are more related to my general health. In time, the oil will drive up my eye pressure causing glaucoma. That’s a when, not an if. If that happened and my retina were not stable, I’d be between a rock and a hard place. Basically, glass eye territory. That’s my biggest motivation. There is another issue

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DIY Bonefishing – It’s All About The Short Game

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By Rod Hamilton

“I HAVE SEEN MORE THAN ONE FFF CERTIFIED CASTING INSTRUCTOR BROUGHT TO TEARS AFTER HIS TENTH BLOWN SHOT AT UNDER FORTY FEET”

Whether you are wading in eighteen inches of water, weaving through the mangroves or doing the Flamingo Slide over a mucky flat, there is no such thing as a seventy-foot cast. For DIY fisherman, it’s all about the Short Game.

Leave your driver, fairway woods and long irons in the bag. DIY success is about accuracy with your wedges and putter. It calls for short precise shots, minimal false casting and one chance to make a pinpoint presentation. There are no Gimmies at thirty feet.

I have had the good fortune to fish with some great anglers and casters this year. I’m still awestruck by the elegance of them laying out an eighty-foot line. But I’ve come to realize that the skills required to be successful from the front of a skiff don’t necessarily translate to being successful in the “hand to hand” combat experienced by the DIY guy.

I’m talking about soft presentations at 20 – 40 feet in 25 m.p.h. winds with one false cast. Then dropping the fly not in a Hula Hoop, but on a Frisbee.

Let me tell you I have seen more than one FFF Certified Casting Instructor brought to tears after his tenth blown shot at under forty feet. It’s the difference between being a great driver of a golf ball and a great putter, both are wonderful skills to posses, but different.

Setting the stage for a DIY day; you just got out of your car or off your bicycle. The fish you will be encountering have seen a “Charlie” before; in fact they probably bolted from one yesterday. And the direction you walk has more to do with “where can I go” then the sun, wind and tide.

And, 90% of your casts will be forty feet or less.

SKILLS REQUIRED FOR THE SHORT GAME:

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Look More and Fish Less on Small Streams

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When I’m not in my drift boat on the river I’m wading fishing on small streams.

Most large rivers don’t provide much sight-fishing opportunities for the fly angler unless they have low enough flows, clear enough water or plenty of rising fish. On the contrary, almost all small streams offer great sight-fishing opportunities for fly fisherman. Fly fishing small streams over the years, I’ve learned that if I take the time to look over a spot thoroughly before I fish it, I usually have much more success.

Spending just a couple minutes studying a section of water allows me to break it down into pieces, figure out where the most likely trout lies are and I often will even spot a fish or two in the process. Blind casting will catch fish, but if you’re abel to locate a trout before you begin fishing, you’ll know exactly where to position and present your fly on the first cast to give you the best shot at catching it. And that means, your chances of lining or spooking fish will drop considerably, you’ll usually be able to see if your flies are drifting in the right line or even see if the fish your fishing to

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3 Fly Fishing Situations When I Will Stop My Streamer During the Retrieve

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Warning: The fly fishing advice you’re about to read may go against your present beliefs. There’s a good chance you’ll feel inclined to tell me I’m nuts for recommending it. That’s totally cool, I just ask that you read what I’ve written, before you make the decision to set me straight.

IT HAS LONG BEEN DRILLED INTO OUR HEADS, THAT THE WORST THING A FLY FISHERMAN CAN DO WHEN A FISH IS TRACKING HIS/HER STREAMER, IS STOP THE RETRIEVE.

I agree with this advice 95% of the time because most prey when threatened by a predator, will swim as hard and fast as possible to escape being eaten. That being said, I’ve been on the water many times when the constant-strip retrieve, or even the speed-up retrieve with my streamer, has failed to get me the hook up from a following fish. It was only when I thought outside the box, and found the courage to go against the popular view that streamers should always be kept moving when a fish is tracking, that I found myself with a bent rod.

With most things in fly fishing, there’s always exceptions to the rule. No matter how rare the exception may come up, a fly fisherman should always be willing to experiment when traditional tactics aren’t producing. If I told you that you were going to be streamer fishing a river where there were lots of injured and dying baitfish, would you still believe that a constant retrieve with a streamer would be your best tactic? What about if you were fly fishing trout water that had huge populations of sculpins or I said you were going to be fly fishing on a lake for largemouth bass, with water temperatures in the high forties? These are just a few fly fishing situations when I’ve found that a stop-and-go retrieve with a streamer can produce better than a constant retrieve, when fish are tracking but not eating. Below are three situations when killing your streamer retrieve, could prove to be your golden ticket.

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Saltwater Fly Fishing: 11 Tips for Presenting Your Fly To Tarpon

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Anyone that’s fly fished for tarpon has probably experienced how easy it can be to present the fly incorrectly. If you miss your target, even by just a little bit, it can drastically lower your chances for getting a tarpon to eat. Cast the fly too close, and the tarpon will spook. Don’t lead the fish enough, and your fly won’t get down to the tarpon’s depth. Cross the fish at the wrong angle, and your fly will be moving towards the tarpon unnaturally, and it will spook. The list goes on and on.

Bottom-line, there’s a very small margin of error bestowed to anglers fly fishing for tarpon. You have to execute everything damn near perfect to put the odds in your favor, and even then, you aren’t guaranteed squat. Here’s the problem. The average angler that travels to fly fish for tarpon is not usually educated on how to read and respond accordingly to different fishing scenarios on the flats. A lot of this has to do with lack of experience and time on the water. If you find yourself falling into this category prior to fishing, you should take the time to have your guide explain how you should handle common fly fishing situations that you’re likely to encounter. As a kid, the same preparation was used by my Dad to walk me through how to make a clean kill shot on a deer. I can hear him now, “If the deer is faced in this direction, I want you to put the crosshairs here”. He must have gone over a dozen different scenarios during the drive up to the deer camp that first year. By the time he was done talking, I felt like I had been hunting for years and I was ready for any situation. It’s no different fly fishing for tarpon. Taking the time to have your guide walk you through different fishing scenarios beforehand will greatly increase your tarpon insight, fishing awareness and get you prepared for the real McCoy.

The second thing anglers should do to increase their success tarpon fishing is have a solid game plan or checklist that they’re willing to stick to on the bow. It must run like clockwork, flawlessly and consistently every time to ensure opportunities aren’t missed out on. The game plan should begin at the angler ready position, with fly in hand, and end with a well-calculated presentation cast. Success all boils down to angler aptitude and experience. The more you have of it, the better the chances will be that you’re going to make the right calculations and decisions on the water when time comes.

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Garner’s White Trash Bass Fly

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Watch This Great Tying Video!

WANT TO CATCH BIG BASS?

How about really big bass? Striper fishing rivers in the south during the summer can be off the hook but it can also be challenging. Those big bruisers can get pretty damned selective and you a pattern that will get them moving.

Nobody knows this game better than Garner Reed. Today Garner is going to share a pattern he developed for catching big striped bass and spotted bass on the Etowah River. He calls it Garners White Trash and it gets the job done.

Watch the video and learn to tie this great bass fly.

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Reece’s Surface Assassin

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Watch the Video!

By Bob Reece

For many fly fishers there is nothing more enchanting that watching trout sip emerging insects from the water’s surface.

This allure can often lead to frustration without the proper pattern and presentation. While the fly fisher is responsible for presentation, Reece’s Surface Assassin is the appropriate pattern.

Both emerging mayflies and caddis flies display some common characteristics when viewed from below. A smooth shelled abdomen along with the husky remains of gills, legs and antennae dangle below the surface film. Simultaneously the glistening exoskeleton and compressed wings of the “new” insect emerge on the water’s surface. Reece’s Surface Assassin, in its wide array of colors, effectively displays this combination of traits to feeding trout.

When fishing this pattern I typically use it as a solo dry. However, in heavy emergences I do rig two Assassins as double dries. I always connect them eye to eye using a non-slip mono loop knot to attach each fly. This allows

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