Fly Fishing Lights at Night

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It’s long been known by fishermen, that bright lights shining on the water at night create fishing hotspots.

The lights attract plankton, which in turn, attracts the baitfish and other food sources that feed on them. Once you’ve got a good concentration of forage food hanging around the lights, it doesn’t take long before the larger predatory gamefish move in and begin making a feeding frenzy of the situation at hand. Using the lights as a perfect tool to coax and gather the food into a small area and the cover of darkness as camouflage, predatory gamefish will take turns darting into the light with mouths open to pack their bellies full. This feeding scenario reminds me very much of the relationship I have with my refrigerator. When I wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach growling, I know exactly where I need to head to get my quick food fix. The relationship gamefish have with lights on the water at night is no different. When available, gamefish will regularly utilize lights to locate and ambush food under the cover of darkness. Fly fisherman should always take the time to locate and fish lights on their home waters, because they will almost always provide consistent action.

If you randomly asked one of your fellow fly fisherman about targeting lights at night, they’d probably respond with success stories about either fishing lighted piers in saltwater or boat docks on freshwater lake impoundments. These are by far, the two most popular places fisherman prefer to utilize lights shining on the water at night, but it’s not the only places we should look. Fishing lights for trout don’t come up in conversation nearly as often, but where they are available, their equally productive. Notice the

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Nymph Fishing, There’s Nothing Wrong With It

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It seems like every where I look, I see blog posts all over the place chastising and bad mouthing nymph fishing.

I hear comments claiming nymph fishing is nothing more than mindless fly fishing. That watching indicators floating down the river all day is boring. So let me ask you this, does it make since to instead fish a dry fly if your chances of catching fish are slim to none? To me, that’s what’s boring and ridiculous. My objective on the water is always to decipher what the fish are predominantly feeding on, and then fish the appropriate rig and fly that allows me to imitate it to my best ability. Whether or not the fly pattern is a wet or dry fly has no bearing to me at all. All that matters is that it’s the right choice for the moment. To frown upon nymph fishing and purposely avoid it, even when it’s obvious it’s an anglers best bet for success, is like a golfer choosing to putt with a driver instead of a putter. It will work but it’s obviously not the best gear choice.

We don’t go through life purposely choosing to take the most difficult path in the off chance we’ll find success. Just as in fly fishing, it doesn’t make any sense to fish one method of fly fishing over another just because it feels more pleasing to the soul. I can stomach doing it every now and then, but to ignore fish behavior and throw away my adaptive fishing tactics, just because I dislike nymph fishing or any other method, seems to go against all the teachings that our fly fishing pioneers have worked so hard to pass down to all of us.

It doesn’t matter what type of fly pattern your fishing, whether it sinks or floats, they all predominantly are designed to imitate various stages of aquatic insects or other food that’s preyed upon by fish in the ecosystem. Nine times out of ten, fish will prefer to forage on the easiest and most abundant food source available to them at any given time. Fish aren’t prejudice towards their food or flies we throw at them. All they care about is

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Chug a Coke, Save a Bleeding Fish.

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There’s nothing worse than watching a big beautiful wild fish bleed out from a damaged gill.

I found myself in just that situation with a big brown trout one day. Watching helplessly as the water turned red. Thank God Kent was with me. Thinking fast he said, “hey, did you finish that Coke?” I had not and he showed me a great trick. He opened the fish’s mouth and poured the Coke down her throat. As soon as it hit the injured gill the bleeding stopped. It was like magic. I’m not sure if it’s the carbonation or the acid but something in the Coke cauterized the wound. It saved that fish’s life. I know it for a fact because I saw her in that same pool several weeks later, although she was wise to me by then. I’m certain it was

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Wood is Good

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Anytime I come across any sort of wood on the water trout fishing, I always take the time to fish around it.

Whether it’s a log jam, isolated root ball, or low overhanging tree, wood offers trout cover and safety which are two very important elements that trout look for when they’re deciding where to position themselves in a river or stream. Wood also in many cases offers current breaks, eddies, and soft seams, that allow trout to feed easily and safely out of the calorie burning swift current. Furthermore, there’s an incredible amount of food that falls off wood cover and hangs out amongst wood, that very often ends up in the stomachs of trout. All of the above make wood prime habitat for trout.

Did I mention that brown trout love to hangout around wood? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught nice brown trout around wood, especially when

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Why I Always Carry a Backup Gear Box

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I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been that unfortunate angler plenty of times, and it can ruin a day of fishing. A few years back I was forced to spend a day on Depuy’s Creek in MT wading around in a pair of my Justin cowboy boots. It was really ironic because I spent the morning packing all the gear for my virgin fly fishing buddies, and I was the one that ended up leaving my damn wading boots on the front porch. Those Justin boots were surprisingly comfortable wading in but they had zero traction, and I looked like a moron. I’ve never forgot my wading boots on a fishing trip since.

Backup Fly Fishing Gear Box. Photo By: Louis Cahill
These days I always try to keep a box of backup gear in my vehicle at all times when there’s room. This way I’m covered if a piece of gear slips my mind during my packing or if I have gear break down on me on the water. Don’t get carried away with the backup gear box, just pack the essentials. I”m talking about focusing on the gear that will cause you to shout multiple four letter obscenities when you find yourself without them. Below is a short list of gear I carry with me at all times.


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Flat Water Nymphing

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The past few years, Louis and I have grown very fond of one specific pool tucked up in mountains of the southern appalachia. We visit it regularly because of the bounties of trout that it sustains and nurtures year round. We nicknamed it the “lazy boy pool”, because it constantly has food entering the pool and its slow moving water and deep water cover requires little energy for fish to feed round the clock. It’s loved by lazy trout and they in turn grow big and fat. Despite the large numbers of trout the pool holds, angler won’t find it to be a cake walk for catching them. To have success in this pool you have to bring your A-game. The fish have grown wise to fly anglers and the glass calm and crystal clear water adds further to the overall challenge. Trout here, get to examine your flies for long periods and they regularly dish out more refusals than eats. It’s had Louis and I pulling our hair out on multiple occasions. If we need our ego’s checked, this is the perfect place for us to do that. It never fails to reminds us we are far from having it all figured out. The slightest mistake by an angler will send wakes across the water alerting all the trout in the pool, and when that happens, the fish get lock jaw.

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10 Tips to Keep You Catching Fish During Your Fly Fishing Travels

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It’s easy to get out of your game when you’re traveling and fly fishing a new piece of water.

It has happened to me plenty of times, where I find myself fly fishing and going against all my fishing catching principles. Stick to what works for you on your home water and keep your confidence, and you’ll be landing beautiful fish in no time. Below are ten principles that I always make sure I live by when I’m fly fishing abroad on unfamiliar waters.

1. Spend your time fishing productive water, don’t waist your time fishing subpar water.

2. Look for the 3 C’s (Cover, Current, Cusine) to locate the hotspots.

3. Always position yourself where you can get your best presentation and drift.

4. Have your fly rig setup correctly for the water you’re fishing (nymph rig set correctly, long enough leader for spooky risers, correct tippet size, ect).

5. Take the time to figure out the food source the fish are keying in on. Take regular bug samplings throughout the day and keep an eye out for aquatic insects on the water.

6. Always fish with confidence and fish hard. Persistence usually pays off.

7. Don’t be afraid to move on if the water your fishing is slow. Even pack up and

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Fly Fishing Bass Ponds 102

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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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Rob Smith’s Musky Sucker

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Rob Smith is nothing, if not colorful so when I asked him to tie a fly for my readers I expected something bodacious, and I got it! Rob likes his fish the way he likes his mustache, big and scary. He’s our local authority on striped bass and musky. When it comes to putting pounds of fish in the net, Rob has you covered. This fly has been a proven producer for musky. It imitates the suckers that are prevalent in musky rivers. It’s a beefy fly and you’ll need to eat your Wheaties to throw it, but you’ll like the results. Check out the video! I’d like to say thanks to the guys at The Fish Hawk for helping out and sharing their favorite flies. We’re lucky to have such a great fly shop and such a knowledgeable staff.   Come fish with us in the Bahamas! Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline   Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!  

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It Only Takes One Good Day of Fly Fishing to Make A Trip

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A while back, I wrote a post about how important it is to not put all your eggs in one basket (fishing only one river system) during your fly fishing travels.

What I didn’t mention in that post and should have, was how important it is to not give up when it seems like the entire universe is conspiring against you. My last trip to Wyoming with Louis was pretty awful. We had to overcome a car break down in the middle of no where, water levels so low we couldn’t float in the drift boat we rented for an entire week, and one of us was almost hospitalized by infection. We lost 2 1/2 days of fishing that trip and we were constantly at each others throats. Even the cold beer flowing over our lips wasn’t enough to raise our morale. I’ll leave it at that, because I’m sure Louis will be writing a very humorous piece down the road shortly, detailing the trip, and I don’t want to spoil it. Here’s the important point I’m I’m trying to get at. It only takes one good day of fishing to make a fishing trip meaningful.

Yeah, we’ve all had perfect fishing trips in the past. The problem with that is perfect fishing trips aren’t the norm, and we often find ourselves in the middle of a trip, complaining about the not so optimal fishing conditions, and then start passing judgment on the present trip by comparing it to our past epic trips. Wake up…., fishing all over the world is getting tougher each year, and we better prepare for it by resetting our fishing expectations accordingly, otherwise we’re going to be setting ourselves up for future disappointment. Again I’ll say, it only takes one good day of fishing to make a fishing trip meaningful. Live by this, and you’ll

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