You May Be Killing Steelhead And Not Even Know It

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STEELHEADERS ARE GENERALLY PRETTY SERIOUS ABOUT CATCH-AND-RELEASE, BUT IT’S LIKELY THAT MANY ARE MORTALLY WOUNDING FISH WITHOUT EVER KNOWING IT.

There are few species of fish as vulnerable as wild steelhead. These fish are beset on all sides by threats both natural and man-made. With their numbers dwindling, it’s safe to say, every steelhead counts. It’s vital that those of us who fish for them practice the best catch-and-release practices.

However, common landing practices can kill fish without the angler ever knowing. A team of biologists studying steelhead in British Columbia discovered this problem, quite by accident. These scientists were tagging steelhead with GPS trackers. They determined that the least intrusive way to capture the fish was, well, the same way we do it. With a fly rod. They landed the fish, tagged them with the GPS device and released them. When they went to their computer to track the fish’s progress they discovered something alarming.

Within two hours many of the fish they had tagged, and released in good health, were dead. They collected the fish and performed autopsies to determine what had gone wrong. In every case the cause of death was

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Small Stream, Big Reward

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By Jason Tucker

Spring has sprung, and if you listen closely you can hear the rumble of fly anglers prepping their gear for trout fishing.

Trout seasons will be opening very soon if not already. We’re all looking forward to warmer temps, fly hatches, and trout looking up. While a lot of anglers will be hitting the main streams, I personally can’t wait to do some small-stream fishing. You should do some too.

There’s a lot of good reasons to skip the mainstream and fish the headwaters or tributaries. For instance, Michigan has somewhere between 14,000 and 20,000 miles of trout stream depending on what day of the week it is. While there are certainly several hundred miles of mainstream, the vast majority of trout holding water is typically in the headwaters and tributary streams. This translates to several advantages for you the angler.

Elbow Room. I’m quite fond of fishing Michigan’s Au Sable River. It’s one of the finest trout streams in the world. But never have I fished that river without seeing at least one other party, and if the hatches are on you’re probably fishing within sight of other anglers. It is a great river, with copious fly hatches and large numbers of trout that can support the pressure. But constantly bumping into others and being bumped into gets tiresome. If you simply go fish one of its many tributaries you can eliminate this problem entirely. As a matter of fact, I can say that most of the days I’ve spent on Michigan’s small streams, I’ve never seen another person.

An even greater surprise was when I moved to Georgia. I figured being this close to major population centers it would be even harder to find empty water. Nope. There’s some streams that receive a lot of pressure, but head up almost any ravine with a stream in it and you will have it to yourself, and quite frequently the fishing will be spectacular.

Wild Fish. While many a mainstem gets stocked on a regular basis, quite frequently the headwaters and tributaries are not stocked at all, either due to a lack of angler effort or lack of access for stocking trucks. This translates into

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Buying A Fly Rod For The Young Beginner

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By Justin Pickett

Bicycles, Red Ryders, footballs, and Barbie dolls.

These are among the many things that get scribbled onto Christmas lists this time of year in hopes of finding them beneath the tree on the 25th morning of December. Easy enough. A trip to the local department or sporting goods store can handle those requests.

But what about when a fly rod makes the list? Or maybe it didn’t, and you are just a super awesome parent that wants to introduce their kid to fly fishing?!

My first fly rod was a Christmas gift from my parents. It was a Scientific Anglers starter kit that I had seen in a Bass Pro magazine. I didn’t have a fly shop close by, and the internet was in its infancy, so finding options and checking things out first-hand just wasn’t an option. I remember showing it to my parents and just jotting it down at the top of my wish list. I knew nothing about what I wanted, or needed, and neither did my parents. I just wanted something, anything, to get me started… and then to figure out what the heck tippet was???

Luckily for today’s kiddos, things aren’t quite as vague. A quick internet search can pull up a handful of options for the beginning angler interested in getting their feet wet. Whether you’re looking for a first rod for your little tike, or maybe the next teenage protige, several companies have you covered for just about every fly fishing scenario. You won’t find many bells or whistles on these rigs, but as an initial investment into fly fishing, these kits are perfect for getting a young angler on the water without breaking the bank.

So, if a fly rod has found its way onto a Christmas list in your family, make sure you give these kits a look-see!

Echo Gecko

With a modest, forgiving action and kid/hippy-friendly cosmetics, the Gecko is ready for action. Featuring a small lower grip for two-handed casting, the Gecko can be fished with one or two hands. With a comfy EVA grip and Echo’s lifetime warranty, the Gecko will keep your kid fishing through the learning curve.

Redington Minnow

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Surviving The Worst In Cold Weather

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With brutal cold weather pounding much of the trout water in the US, it’s worth taking a minute to think about safety.

Living in the south, life threatening cold weather conditions are not often a concern, but even here in Georgia, you can find yourself in trouble very quickly. In fact, the most dangerous situations are the ones you didn’t expect to go badly, and didn’t prepare. Something as simple as a stone rolling under foot can turn a pleasant winter outing into a survival situation. Some years ago I found myself in exactly that situation.

Fishing a fairly remote spot along the Appalachian Trail one winter, I took a fall and injured my knee. It was bad enough that I couldn’t walk on it. I was miles from the truck and there was no trail. I had about an hour of light. The temperature was about thirty degrees Fahrenheit and falling. I had three options. I could make my way out along the river. It was the longest route and there were some tough crossings. I could hike over a couple of ridges. A shorter route but I was not sure I could find my way, even in the light. Lastly, I could spend the night out in the cold without the first piece of survival gear.

I made a crutch from a forked tree limb and decided to make my way along the river. I fell a couple of more times but I did finally make it to the truck about ten that night. It was the first time I found myself in that kind of spot and it changed the way I thought about planing a fishing trip. I made some good decisions that day, and maybe some bad ones, but I took the time to learn a bit about surviving in cold weather and I recommend that everyone who fishes do the same.

I am a southerner, which makes me apprehensive about giving advice on cold weather. As our best trout fishing is in the winter, I do spend a lot of cold days on the river and I’m not a survival expert but I do take some common sense precautions. With that in mind, here are some tips on staying safe while fishing in cold weather.

Tips for fishing safety in cold weather.

Be prepared

By far the best way to survive a dangerous situation is not to find yourself in one to start with. That means starting with a good plan. You should know what to expect from the weather and be prepared for the worst. Know the area you’re fishing. Know all of your options for getting in and out, both on foot and by vehicle. If for example, you access your spot by driving in on a forest road, it might be smart to

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8 Tips For Retrieving The Fly When Bonefishing

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By Louis Cahill

You’ve spotted the bonefish and made the perfect cast, what now?

The retrieve is where the magic happens. It’s your sales pitch to the fish and if you want to seal the deal you have to make that fly act like food. It’s a simple proposition but there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Ultimately, your retrieve is determined by three things: the setup, the conditions and the reaction of the fish.

Every presentation to a bonefish is different. That’s what makes targeting these fish so much fun. To be really successful you need to have a good understanding of the fundamentals of the retrieve and be able to adapt when things change.

With that in mind, here are 8 tips for better bonefish retrieve.

Does the fly matter?

By this I mean, do we retrieve flies differently based on the critter they imitate? To be honest, I think bonefish are pretty forgiving on this one, but I do fish as if it matters. That means I try to swim the fly like the natural would swim. Shrimp patterns get a rhythmic pulsing retrieve, crab patterns scurry and dive, baitfish patters swim more fluidly.

Look scared

Your fly not only needs to imitate the natural, it need to appear to be in distress. Like all predators, bonefish will prey on the weakest. I like for my fly to appear to panic a bit when the fish sees it.

Speed is dictated by the presentation

The speed of your retrieve should vary depending on the setup of your presentation. Bonefish are not accustomed to having shrimp charge toward them. If the setup of your shot means that you have to retrieve the fly towards the fish, your retrieve must be slow, as if your shrimp is clueless. Bonefish like to chase, so quick retrieve can get their attention if the fly is off to their side, moving away. Sometimes you will have to

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Fishing Mud Lines For Big Fish

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By: Garner Reid

MUD LINES ARE EXCELLENT PLACES FOR FISH TO HIDE.

I split my guiding year in half, targeting trout from fall to spring and the rest of the year pursuing summer run striped bass in my local river systems. River run stripers offer their own unique set of challenges for the angler, and definitely for the guide.
When someone gets in my boat for a day of striper fishing, one of the first things I try to explain is where these fish like to hold. I tell them to start out like they are streamer fishing for a big brown trout. When someone is pursuing a new species of fish, like stripers in a river, finding that common thread is the key to angling success.
Just the other week I had the pleasure of guiding a new client who was quite an accomplished angler. Having caught many fish in all the exotic locations that are on my personal bucket list. As we floated down the river it quickly became evident this guy knew how to fish. He was ripping big streamers accurately into all the nasty stuff that a big fish ought to hold in.
This was producing a few nice schoolie sized stripes but nothing huge. Halfway through our float we approached a small feeder creek quartering in at a 45 degree angle to the left of the boat. Heavy rains the night before had the creek dumping chocolate milk into the river. Typically not what a fly fisherman likes to see.
The muddy creek water was thick like oil, being pushed up against the clean water by the current, which carried a defined wall of muddy water down the left side of the river for hundreds of yards.
I rowed the boat into position perpendicular to the creek mouth and dropped anchor, told the guy to make a big cast across the creek mouth and let his fly sink, followed with an aggressive retrieve. A few strips later

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Can Anglers and Trout Have Mutual Admiration for Each Other?

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WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH?

This photograph reminds me of the blissful feeling I’m overcome with, just before I release a big beautiful trout back into the wild. There’s something very special about the last few seconds that an angler spends with his/her prized catch before it’s released. Everything seems to slow down, almost as though God is making sure we have time to capture the splendidness of the moment. I like to pretend that when our eyes lock, we mutually feel admiration for each other. I respect the trout for it’s majestic beauty and the thrill of the hunt. The trout in return respects me for my angling skills and belief in catch and release.

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Reece’s Stepchild Stone

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Watch the Video!

By Bob Reece

The title of stonefly conjures up images of gargantuan aquatic insect life.

This is true for several species in the late reaches of their life. However, their more petite partners and developmental stages should not be overlooked when filling your fly box.

Stonefly nymphs in the smaller sizes of 12-16 are available throughout the year in freestone streams and rivers. This fact led me to create this pattern. The Stepchild is a smaller variation of my Rolling Stone. Its combination of reduced size and mottled beads make it an ideal candidate for clear water conditions. The slim abdomen and double dose of tungsten plummet this bug to the desired depth.

When fishing this pattern, I use it as the anchor point in my nymphing setup. This holds true whether I’m using an indicator rig or tight line set up. The Stepchild Stone also works wonderfully as a dropper in sizes 14 and 16. I always connect it using

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The Bow Clock

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If you can’t communicate with your guide, you’re fishing blind.

Communication is the key to successful saltwater fly fishing. Flats fishing with a guide is a team sport, and like all team sports, The team must work together to win. Your guide has a couple of big advantages, when it comes to spotting fish. He has keen eyes, years of experience and an elevated position on the platform. More times that not, he will see fish long before you do.

Once he has found the fish, it’s his job to help you find them. Your odds of making the right presentation go way up when you can see the fish, so the two of you need to be speaking the same language. Poor communication means missed opportunities.

To help you find fish, your guide will use a system called the Bow Clock. He should give you 3 pieces of information. A Bow Clock time, which tells you in what direction to look. A distance, which tells you how far to look. And the direction the fish is moving– left, right, toward or away. These 3 coordinates should tell you everything you need to know to find the fish and make the shot.

Keep in mind that things look very different from the platform than they do from the bow. What looks like 40 feet to you may look like 30 to your guide. Don’t stare a hole in the water where you think the fish is. Scan the surrounding water for movement and color changes. Point your rod so your guide knows where you’re looking, and can direct you. If he skips one of the 3 pieces of information, ask. “Moving which direction?”

When everyone is on the same page the system works great. Watch this video for more information and to see exactly how it works.

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Choosing The Right Color Lens For Your Fishing

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Polarized sunglasses are one of the most critical pieces of gear an angler can equip themselves with on the water.

They significantly cut down the glare on the water so you can spot fish and read water more effectively. Without them an angler can feel naked and ill-equipped. Polarized sunglasses play so many important roles in everyday fly fishing, and making a point to choose the right lens color before you hit the river can end up adding or subtracting to your overall success on the water. I carry two different pair of sunglasses with me at all times. Depending on the fishing location, time of day, and available light, I’ll choose one over the other.

Yellow Lens (Low Light Conditions)
Early morning and late evening hours when the sun is low in the horizon and off the water I prefer to wear polarized sunglasses with yellow lens. They increase the contrast and brighten everything a couple notches. I also prefer yellow lens when I’m fishing heavily canopied streams. Sometimes even in the middle of the day, there are many places where the sun doesn’t penetrate the canopy, and you’ll find yellow lens are the only way to go for these shady low light conditions. Nasty weather days when its cloudy and rainy, yellow lens perform well. The winter brings with it limited sunshine on the water, since the sun doesn’t move across the horizon as high, and wearing yellow lens solves this problem. You don’t want to go 100% with a yellow lens for every day fishing though. During high light levels you won’t get the contrast you’ll need, but they do perform extraordinarily well in niche low light situations.

Amber Lens (Moderate to High Light Conditions)
If you only had the luxury to choose one color lens for fishing, there’s no better color choice than amber.

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