SEPTEMBER, 2010 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

1 Oct
Arizona, September, 2010, Temperatures “cooled” to a high in the lower triple digits with cool mornings in the high seventy, low eighty degree range. With cooler morning temperatures, not only was fishing physically more enjoyable, but the results greatly improved. Unfortunately, during the last week of September, temperatures again surged to almost record high. The corollary increase in morning temperatures again resulted in smaller catches. I hope you enjoy the within journal as much as I enjoyed “researching” it. REMEMBER – ALL FISH WERE SAFELY RELEASED AFTER BEING PHOTOGRAPHED.
LOWER SALT RIVER, Maricopa County, AZ

Due to the Lower Salt River flowing too high and too fast for my tastes, I did not fish the river in September. For purposes of consistence in my fishing reports, here is the water flow chart for September from WWW.RiverMonitor.Com.

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS

With the cooler morning temperatures, fishing in the urban lake system steadily improved throughout the month. Bluegill were plentiful and provided consistent fun on light fly equipment. My outfit of choice for these tempting little fish morsels remained my six foot Fenwick Ferrulite rod, a double taper, five weight floating line and a nine foot leader ending in a 7X tippet. It is axiomatic that bluegill readily take a fly. My flies of choice for these bluegill generally fell into the sub-surface category and involved fishing the flies double in a head to tail configuration. The specific sub-surface patterns that I favored were a # 14 McGinty, # 14 March Brown, # 14 San Juan Worm, # 16 Rainbow Warrior*, and # 16 Ju-Ju Bee*. There was also early morning action on dry flies. My patterns of choice consisted of a # 16 purple Haze*, # 16 Mosquito and a # 16 Adams Irresistible. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the patterns indicated by an asterisk (*), they may be obtained though Big Y Fly Co at WWW.BigYFlyCo.Com.

To my extreme gratification, Bass fishing greatly improved. In the beginning of the month, small bass could be taken on using the light fly tackle described above.

Early September, temperatures exceed 105 degrees.

As the month progressed, not only did the size of the largemouths increase, the tenacity with which they fought after being hooked amplified. After breaking a fair number of larger bass off the 7X tippet, I modified my fishing strategy. I began to bring two fly rods to the lakes. The first fly outfit I carried with me was the ultra-light outfit mentioned above. I supplemented that outfit with a sturdier outfit designed to catch a larger bass for photographing and subsequent release. My outfit of choice for these larger bass was my nine foot Sumo Distance XS fly rod casting a seven weight floating weight forward line with a nine foot leader ending in a 4X tippet.

Slowly, the size of bass caught increased.

I employed two strategies to find and catch the bass that these lakes had to offer. The first strategy was to locate bluegill using the lighter tackle. Inevitably the excitement of the hooked bluegill would draw a larger bass out of cover. Once a larger bass was sighted, I switched to my heavier tackle. The second strategy was to walk the lake shore with the Sumo XS at the ready and sight fish for bass. This sight fishing strategy is similar to wading salt water flats and sight fishing, only instead of wading, it involves walking the soil and/or concrete walkways of my urban lakes. Again, similar to the salt water flats, once a bass is sighted, an exacting cast, with accurate and delicate presentation often resulted in the satisfaction of a bass hook-up.

I used this sign as an impromptu measuring device before releasing this bass.

My flies of choice for the larger bass included # 14 Wooly Bugger (in caret color), # 12 Muddler Minnow, # 12 Lite Brite Zonker*, # 12 Alexander*, # 14 San Juan Worm and # 10 Silver Epoxy Minnow Streamer. Again, I fished these flies double. I also had a few heart stopping thrills using a dry # 14 Foam Dragonfly. The colors blue and tan produced the best. The dragonfly had to be well presented with no ripple to be effective. When so presented the strikes were fast and almost instantaneous. Once the fly hit the water – Bam, the game was afoot.

Bass could not resist a well presented Foam Dragonfly.

Arizona Fish and Game stocked catfish during the week of September 20th and provided bait fisherman with ample opportunity to take home a catfish or two. Anglers are encourage to selectively harvest the catfish. Di was able to catch a few that we subsequently harvested. The meat of these fish was clean and tasty.

Di before releasing this urban catfish.

With the sun setting earlier in the sky, I began to fish the Urban Lakes at sunset. Ernest Hemingway once observed that “The setting of the sun is a difficult time for all fish” (See Endnote # 2). Perhaps this is so because, as the sun descends to sleep, fish shed natural inhibition and will readily take a well presented fly, or even, artificial lures.

           Bass at Sunset          

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ (See Note # 1)

Early in the month was the start of dove hunting season. I spent many early mornings on this lake casting to the rhythmic pow-pow of hunters shooting at their tasty quarry. Mid-month early mornings provided the slightest whiff of steam coming off the lake close to the reed beds. Bass fishing was somewhat sporadic with some mornings being better than others. The morning of September 14th provided me with a classic example of how the martial arts state of mind called “Mushin” can be of benefit to fly fisherman. Using this state of mind, I was treated to sight-fishing two back-to-back largemouths as I walked the lake shore. The subject of the martial arts state of mind called “Mushin” and fly fishing will be addressed in my next article.

Bass loved a Muddler Minnow.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ (See Note # 1)

Fly fishing this lake was satisfying with consistent catches of bluegill and a few small bass. In addition, I was privileged to view nature’s spectacular awakening and subsequent slumber at sun rise and sunset.

Nature prepares to sleep at the Water Ranch.

The magnificence of nature’s display was diminished by the increasing amount of trash and waste being left lakeside by those that pretend to call themselves “fisherman”. No-one who takes the noble title of “fisherman” would denigrate the sport with such lazy, selfish acts of pollution. The sad part is that these lazily, slovenly lake visitors carried the trash with them and after use, simply discarded it. Garbage consisted of off-the-shelf fishing rod cases, folding chairs, worm containers and an assortment of drinking bottles. In one instance, a broken chair was thrown into the lake. The people that left their garbage certainly are not qualified to call themselves “fisherman”. They clearly have no idea of what it feels like to loose a natural resource to careless pollution. Stop for a minute and think about what this particular park would be like if the lake was too polluted to fish in, and the trails were over run by garbage and the vermin that seeks such garbage. Look well.

WHAT A WASTE!

RED MOUNTAIN LAKE, Mesa. AZ (See Note # 1)

This lake was the slowest of all lakes in the urban system that I visited. Perhaps this was due to fishing pressure or perhaps due to limited catch and release philosophy. I do not know the exact cause. I like to think that October will be better for this lake.

DISCOVERY PARK LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

This small lake, or perhaps I should say pond reminds one of a backyard swimming pool. It is one of the most fruitful ponds for fishing excitement for its limited size.

Having said that, it MUST be nurtured and cared for. There must be careful resource management and a MANDATORY catch and release policy for this pond to continue to temporarily surrender it‘s bounty. Enjoy it as you will, but, please think of the future and carefully release all fish from this facility.

Sensei John takes a line from the Godfather movie - not quite "Sleeping With The Fishes".

COSMO LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

September 20th was my first visit to this lake. I visited it a few times thereafter. It produced bluegill consistently. I also had a thrill of catching a carp on a # 14 Rainbow Warrior but “quick-released” it about a foot from shore. I will continue to explore this lake in the coming weeks.

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John

NOTES:

1. These lakes are part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. The program which provides man-made fishing lakes in close proximity to major population centers is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

2. From, Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man And The Sea, (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 1952), p. 73. Also Hemingway On Fishing, Lyons Nick (Editor), (Nick Lyons Pres, New York, NY, 2000) p. 222. You may see my review of Hemingway On Fishing by clicking on the Sensei’s Reviews category.

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Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

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