Tag Archives: Arizona Fly Fishing

September & October, 2014 Fishing Journal

2 Nov

September & October, 2014, Valley of the Sun. With many things on our personal agenda, including an upcoming relocation to New Jersey, we fished when we could and not as often as we would have liked. As of this writing, one of our team members has already relocated to New Jersey. Here’s a photo of her last bass in Arizona, a beauty caught at the Lower Salt River on October 3rd.

di last bass

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

With seriously decreased water flows, the key to success is finding deep, moving, well oxygenated water.

   salt-Sept   salt oct

Areas that previously had water may now be dry

Areas that previously had water may now be dry

Depending on the area you desire to fish, this can involve some degree of hiking. The results; however, are worth the hike.

  CIMG5462   CIMG5467

Notwithstanding the consistent low flows, I always consult the flow chart for the river before heading out the door. WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

   CIMG5470   CIMG5505

Our last visit to Canyon Lake was on September 30th. At the time, the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation Area was still closed. We will attempt to verify the status of the bridge by the time of our next report.

URBAN LAKE FISHING:

Arizona Game and Fish will start stocking rainbow trout in mid-November.

Riverview Lake, Mesa

On Sunday, October 12th, 2014 saw major blooms of green algae in various locations on the lake.

riverview algae

From talking with other fisherman, it seems this phenomenon was relatively new. Our experience that day was that the algae seems to have hampered the bite. One small largemouth bass was caught.

   CIMG5487

 

vulture-me  In the photos I’m wearing an uv protection shirt I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John

sunsu-cactus Please feel free to view my weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts at http://senseijohn.me

July, 2014 Fishing Journal

8 Aug

July, 2014, Valley of the Sun.
I’m driving to the Lower Salt River one morning hoping to get in a few hours of fishing before the triple heat swoops in. Classic rock plays on the radio. A song ends. The D.J. begins the weather report, “Today’s weather; Christ is gonna be hot!” “One fourteen in Phoenix later, but now, the Talking Heads Burning Down The House.”
I think, “What a great way to sum up fishing in the Arizona summer.”

Hemingway once said,“No one can work every day in the hot months without going stale. To break up the pattern of work, we fish . . . “ (Endnote # 1) So, in these unbearably hot days, when one’s spirit can easily go stale, I turn to fishing whenever I can and my karate kata when I can’t. Before my fingers go stale, I best get on with July’s fishing.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

When time permits, fishing the Lower Salt is a double bonus. First, you’re fishing – ‘nuff said. Second, you’re able to wade its cool waters and keep your body temperature within a comfortable zone. Do; however, use caution. The river moves fast and has some tricky currents. A few people drown each year.

                     bass-c00n-b-rat-l     bass-tellico-coob-bluff

The problem with fishing the river is one of changing water flows. I always consult the flows before planning a trip. You can also do so by visiting
http://www.watershedmonitor.com/contentView.aspx?DT=0&KW=WW_LwrSaltRiver
If there is a change of more than 200 c.f.s. within a day of my trip, then I fish elsewhere. Here’s what the flows looked like for July, 2014.

salt-july

More photos from the river.

   bass-mask      salt-coon-bass-bh-eggi-juan-kenobi

 

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

On those summer days when I can spare a few hours to fish and the changing flows keep me off the river, I fish Canyon Lake. My exact choice of location is a function of the difficulty of hiking to the location compared with the temperature. My relevant temperature measurement isn’t the forecasted high temperature but rather how early it will hit one hundred degrees. The earlier the time of day, the less hiking I do. In those instances, I’ll fish the more readily accessible locations all along the lake.

 boulder-green sunfish-bluegill- copy

I always look for new fishing spots along the lake’s shore. If I’m on the lake and the heat’s a bit much, I’ll scout out new fishing spots for future trips. I recently began to explore the area in and around the Laguna Beach boat launch. I hope to have more in future reports.

CIMG5096

 

community fishing sign  URBAN LAKE FISHING

The Urban Lake System, now the Community Fishing Program, provides easily accessible fishing; often within a driving distance of less than fifteen miles. or so. On days that I cannot spare sufficient travel time to the big waters, then I fish these more accessible lakes.

Health issues, drastically cut into our time to fish these lakes. There are; however, two items of distinction from this month.

Riverview-Mesa   Riverview Lake, Mesa, AZ

The first is our trip to the newly renovated Riverfront Lake in Mesa. This lake is not quite in “our neighborhood” as are Veterans Oasis, Water Ranch and Red Mountain, but I wanted to see it after its renovation. All I can say is, “Wow, what a great job!” The lake is beautiful and well planned. We caught a few small bass, but did see quite a few larger fish. I think in the coming months that I’l do a full feature and video on this renovated lake. Definitely worth the trip.

Red Mountain   Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, AZ

The second item of distinction occurred July 2nd. We were fishing Red Mountain Lake in Mesa. It was a hot morning. We were walking the bank, going back to the truck when we saw a huge catfish an inch or so away from and facing the concrete retaining wall. He was feeding on something. I’ve seen largemouth bass also do this. I can’t seem figure out either this behavior or what they’re feeding on. We had a few rods with a soft plastic grub, a rat-l trap and my fly rod with a big nymph. To avoid spooking the fish, I decided to throw the fly.

catfish-collage copy

I cast about six or seven times letting the fly hit the edge of the concrete. I would then ease it into the water. On about the eight cast, the fish took the fly and a twenty-plus minute fight was on! Di was able to get some really great video.

I hope you enjoy the new collage editor I downloaded, it is my goal to be able to show fish caught and fly or lure used in future submissions.

7--20-13 inch-asu_Fotor_Collage

In the photos and video we’re wearing uv protection shirts we purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Until the next submission, thanks for stopp’in by,

Sensei John

Sensei John

FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor   As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.00 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.00, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

Until the next submission, I remain,

ENDNOTES:
1. Hemingway’s quote cane be found in my favorite book on “Papa” -Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (Nick Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 153, originally published as “A Situation Report” in Look magazine, September 4, 1956. For my review of this “must read’ please use this convenient link: https://flyfishingdojo.com/2010/07/26/hemingway-on-fishing/

You can follow the adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product – Fly Fishing Dojo Coffee Mug

Taking a coffee break from blogging and vlogging with the FFD logo coffee mug and FFD black and white baseball t-shirt.

office-mug-shirt

 

sunsu-cactus   Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me

JANUARY, 2012 – FISHING JOURNAL

9 Feb

Before you read this month’s report, get in the mood by watching our video of rainbow trout being stocked at Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, Arizona (trout supplied by Crowther’s Fresh Water Trout) by clicking this  link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPHyCIdmStY

The above stocking was a “super incentive trout stocking” with trout up to six pounds!

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, January, 2012, this month is represented by two words – Rainbow Trout. The cooler temperatures allow for the regular stocking of beautiful (and tasty) farm-raised rainbows. Without further adieu, here’s this month’s submission.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Lower flows again allow for very enjoyable days to be spent fishing the Lower Salt River. Take your time, pack a backpack and enjoy exploring stretches of the river that are otherwise inaccessible in the summer months when flows are high.

This month's hot pattern's a # 16 Ju-Ju Bee nymph fished behind a # 12 Chartreuse Wooly Bugger

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

URBAN LAKE FISHING

Sunrise at Veteran's Oasis Lake, Chandler, AZ

The Siren’s call of “rainbow trout” once again calls anglers to these urban treasures. Conveniently located and well stocked, the lakes provide fun angling. In these hard economic times, the lakes also supply a nutritious food source and the satisfaction of having caught your own supper. I tend to frequent Veteran’s Oasis Lake, Water Ranch Lake and Red Mountain Lake.

Once again, please remember the daily bag limit of four rainbow trout. Harvest what you will consume and return excess fish so that others may enjoy them.

Now, for a bit of humor, here’s a look at “Historical Fishing”. Enjoy

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page tab above.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product

FFD LOGO MINI WALLET

Here is a convenient link to this month’s featured product – http://www.cafepress.com/flyfishing_dojo.594046850#

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.

NOVEMBER, 2011 – FISHING JOURNAL

14 Dec

 Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, November, 2011,  cooler temperatures, serene environments and the wonder of nature made for a month of enjoyable fishing.

Decreased water flows at Lower Salt River (Blue Point Beach)

Sunrise - Veterans Oasis Lake, Chandler, AZ

With the Holiday season upon us, I extend to you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.As a small gift, here is a video clip I made of the Fly Fishing Dojo Christmas HO Train layout set to Joe Nichols “Old Toy Trains”.

Scene from the Christmas Trains FREE video - link below

I hope you enjoy it. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M__4r1qAavU

Please feel free to visit the FLY FISHING DOJO “SHOP” page for unique Fly Fishing Dojo Logo Christmas themed and fly fishing products.

      

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Water Users Recreation Area

Rainbow trout stockings resumed on the Lower Salt River with bountiful results. Thanksgiving Day proved to be a most productive day on the river with catches (and releases) of largemouth bass and rainbow trout.

             

            

Prior to its release, Chloe inspects a small bass

All fish were released except for two rainbows harvested as a tasty alternative to turkey leftovers.

The best fly pattern on that day was a sparkle shad streamer with a # 16 chartreuse/red scrambled egg nymph.

Always aesthetically pleasing, there was one uniquely special day on the Lower Salt River when we were visited by a herd of wild horses.

Experience this special day for yourself; here is a link to a video made on that day. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT491X5vea8

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

With falling temperatures, catches of largemouth bass along the various shorelines were replaced with catches of newly stocked rainbow trout.

The Boulder Recreation Area was closed for renovations. As such, most of our fishing was along the shoreline along the first one-lane bridge.

URBAN LAKE FISHING

The beauty of Urban Lake Fishing

Rainbow trout were stocked for the first time this year on November 17th. Stockings will continue every other week; however, the exact dates will not be known prior to the stocking. With biweekly stockings, there are plenty of tasty rainbows for supper.

PLEASE, remember the daily bag limit of four AND you need an Urban Fishing License.

Regular visits to our favorite Urban Lakes, to wit: Veteran’s Oasis Lake, Water Ranch Lake and Red Mountain Lake proved enjoyable and productive.

NEW VIDEOS:

WILD HORSES (At the Lower Salt River, AZ): Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT491X5vea8

CHRISTMAS TRAINS (To “Old Toy Trains” by Joe Nichols): Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M__4r1qAavU

For a very unique look at a historical aspect of fishing, you may wish to view “Fisherman As Warriors” by clicking this convenient link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information. You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page tab above.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

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.

MAY, 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

8 Jun

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun –  May, 2011, turned out to be a difficult month on many fronts, including an unexpected return to New Jersey to attend the memorial and funeral for a very dear friend. For purposes of this fishing journal, time spent on the water was less than I would have preferred. Hopefully, things will turn around in June.

Having said that, the majority of species that could be lured to take a fly were a plethora of panfish, including crappie and bluegill. Although several large bass were seen, catches were of the smaller variety. There was an occasional rainbow or two. and small bass. I hope you enjoy reading about your favorite fishing waters.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Given the unusual circumstances of this month, I was only able to fish the Lower Salt a few times. After water flows increased to summer levels, I concentrated my fishing at the Water Users Recreation Area. This area is above river from where float tubers launch and thus can provide extended fishing time in the morning hours. The fly rods I tend to use on the river (summer flows) are a 9 foot Sumo XS and 8 foot Fenwick Ferrulite. Longer rods for longer casts and fishing Czech-style nymphs.

At Water Users Recreation Area

The beginning of the month (after flow levels increased) was a bit inconsistent. One day, catches of largemouth bass were reasonable with catches of bluegill plentiful (best pattern was a # 14 rooks blueberry nymph tied behind a # 12 claret wooly bugger). The next day would be nothing. But such are the foibles of fly fishing.

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished several areas of shoreline on Canyon Lake with consistent catches of small bass and plentiful panfish.  Given the steady stream of panfish, crappie & bluegill that would take a fly, I downsized my equipment to my 6 foot Fenwick Ferrulite fly rod, throwing a four weight line and ending in a 7x or 8X tippet.  The result was often some heart-stopping action provided by light tackle connected to some nice-sized panfish.

The areas that I primarily fished are:

The shoreline adjacent to and surrounding the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation Area,

  

the rock ledge on the far shoreline from the bridge (use caution hiking down the rocks)

Di & a bluegill from the rock ledge

and the shoreline surrounding the first one lane bridge on highway 88 (use caution hiking down from the road to the shoreline).

                 

The most productive patterns this month were the following: # 14 BH rooks blueberry nymph behind a # 12 BH claret wooly bugger, # 16 red serendipity nymph behind a # 12 sparkle shad streamer and a # 16 wire caddis nymph tied behind a # 10 apache lady wet fly. These flies were fished with a twitch and pause retrieve. As morning temperatures inched steadily to the triple digit range, there was fast and furious dry fly action to be found courtesy of a # 16 black/pink foam ant or a # 16 chartreuse/black ant.  I fished the ants drifting with surface wind currents with an occasional twitch. There were times that almost every other cast resulted resulted in a fish; every sixth cast or so in one that was nice size.

Chloe inspects a bluegill from the rock ledge before release

After a long morning at Canyon Lake, one tends to develop an appetite. To quell the hunger derived from a morning of flicking flies at the aquatic citizens of the lake, the FLY FISHING DOJO crew often stops at Los Favritos Restaurant on Apache Trail in Apache Junction for the biggest, best tasting and economical Burritos in Pinal County. Give them a try the next time you are in “AJ”.

Los Favritos Restaurant, Apache Trail, Apache Junction

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS

Success on the Urban Lake system this month was somewhat inconsistent. Catfish were (and still are) being stocked by AZ Fish and Game. These fish are reluctant to take a fly, but were caught using various baits, including hot dogs reported by one fisherman I spoke with. It seems to me that during the stocking of the catfish, the other resident summer species of bass and bluegill bury themselves deep into the cover.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

Small bass and bluegill were inconsistent but could be found with wet flies and nymphs that had some sparkle to them. Such patterns included: # 14-16 BH rooks blueberry, # 16 wire caddis nymph, # 14-16 rainbow warrior nymphs, # 16 red serendipity nymph, # 14 alexandria and # 14 apache lady wet fly.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

Results that I experienced were generally the same as at Veterans Oasis Lake, including the productive fly patters. I did have one heart stopping moment when a large carp chased and was briefly hooked on a # 14 pink san juan worm pattern. I hope to explore this pattern on the resident carps more in June.

FEATURED VIDEOS:

Fisherman As Warriors –  link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

Sanchin Kata For Fisherman –  link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Tight lines.

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product

FEATURED PRODUCT - FFD SHOT GLASS

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.

APRIL 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

11 May

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, April, 2011, after three months away, it was good to once again return home on April 18th. My first day of fishing Arizona waters was April 20th, so what follows is a somewhat abbreviated report. PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I was able to fish the Lower Salt on April 23rd at the Water Users Recreation Area, Blue Point and Sheep Crossing. Results were slow, but unusually interesting. To my surprise, several carp were located. I managed to hook three of them using a # 14 San Juan Worm weighted with a split shot. These fish put up a real nice fight resulting in two of the three escaping.

Look for improved results with the scheduled stocking of rainbow trout in the coming weeks by Arizona Game & Fish

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

As of the date of publication, water flows on the Lower Salt surged to summer levels.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished waters in and around the Boulder Recreation Area for two days with spectacular catches of various panfish eager to take a fly.

          

So spectaculr was the panfishing that I dedicated a separate report and video entitled “Panfish Party Heat At Canyon Lake” to these two days.

Here is a link to the report https://flyfishingdojo.com/2011/05/01/panfish-party-heat-at-canyon-lake/

and video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs.

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS


Once again, I fished the Urban Lakes system on days that I only had two to three hours to dedicate to fishing. The lakes are presently being stocked with catfish by Fish and Game. These fish are difficult to catch using a fly. Notwithstanding my lack of luring catfish to my feathery offerings, I was able to catch a few small largemouth bass and bluegill of various sizes. Some days were good and some slow, a few were even S-L-O-W.

PLEASE dispose of bait containers properly

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

Veterans Oasis Lake was the first Arizona water that I was able to fish upon my return. My first day on the water was April 20th and it was great. I saw two of my fishing fiends that I hadn’t seen since I left for work in New Jersey. I was also able to shake off the cold New Jersey winter by catching quite a few bluegill and small bass.

For this auspicious occasion, I chose to fish with my favorite fly rod from my teenage years, a Fenwick Ferrulite 6 foot rod. I fished a light, ten foot leader with a 7 X tippet and had a blast with the plentiful palm sized bluegill. The flies of choice this day were a combination of a # 14 Alexandria wet fly with a # 16 Red Ass wet fly on the tail and a # 14 Zug Bug nymph with a # 16 BH Red Serendipity nymph on the tail end.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

I was able to fish this urban lake once on April 28th. The results of this day were a few small bass & several bluegill on a # 14 Alexandria with a # 16 Red Ass as a dropper.

I had also caught and released several bluegill on a # 14 March Brown with a # 16 Scrambled Egg drew the attention of a great blue heron looking for an easy meal. This beautiful bird came closer and closer each time I caught and released a bluegill. At one point in time, it was only about eight feet away as you can see in the photo below. For perspective, the fly rod I am holding tucked under my arm was only six feet long. Eventually, the heron flew off.

RED MOUNTAIN LAKE, Mesa, AZ

I fished this lake twice with reliable catches of bluegill, some nice sized. The best pattern again seems to generally be a large dark nymph in front of a red nymph on the tail end.

The most productive pattern proved to be a # 14 Zug Bug nymph with a # 16 BH Red Serendipity nymph on the tail. Both were readily taken but the red pattern more than the dark pattern.

Chloe inspects a bluegill prior to release

At this urban lake, Di also caught her first catfish of the season.

OTHER COMMENTS:

I made a few brief and uneventful trips to Discovery Park Lake and the ponds at Cosmo Dog Park. Except for a few bluegill and one small carp, these trips were lack luster.

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

NEW VIDEOS:

Great Blue Heron at Water Ranch Lake link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRgw1oPVYw4

Panfish Party at Canyon Lake link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs

Sensei John

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

This months new product – FFD LOGO MAGNET

See the "SHOP" page for link to our online store

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.

PANFISH PARTY HEAT AT CANYON LAKE

1 May

Di, our dog, Chloe & I arrived at the Boulder Recreation Area of Canyon Lake early the morning of Friday, April 29th anticipating a morning of good fishing, enjoying the natural environment and a quiet day away from work. What we found was an phenomenon that I call “Panfish Party Heat”. The catches (and releases) of feisty, bluegill and crappie was so fulfilling they we were compelled to return on Saturday the 30th. Here is our story experiencing the Panfish Party Heat phenomenon at Canyon Lake.

Day One:

We arrived at Canyon Lake, Boulder Recreation Area around 7:30 in the morning. The plan was to target panfish and search for a few bass. With this in mind, I had taken along two of my oldest (and most treasured) fly rods from my youth. Both rods, purchased over thirty-five years ago, were Fenwick Ferrulite fly rods; one six foot, weighing 2 5/8 ounces I planned to use on the native bluegill and crappie population. The other, an eight foot rod I intended to use for largemouth bass when the opportunity presented itself. Di planned to use a variety of spinners and artificial bait. She also wanted to hone her fly casting skills a bit.

On the six foot fly rod I had tied a tandem of nymphs onto a 7X tippet. The combination of choice was a # 16 rainbow warrior tied behind a # 14 BH bloody mary.  On the eight foot rod I tied a # 14 ju-ju bee nymph tied behind a # 12 BH claret wooly bugger on a 5X tippet.

We began to walk the shoreline and cast to promising locations, rocky drop-offs, reed banks, and the like. Our casts were unanswered. As we walked we came upon the area adjacent to the fishing bridge. Along the shallow rocky ledges which sloped to deep water we immediately noticed several large bass on spawning beds. Coexisting with the bass were several panfish secreting themselves amongst the rocks. We stealthily approached and began to fish in earnest. Though the bass, preoccupied by nature’s urge to spawn, were not interested in my flies, the bluegill and crappie were more than happy to munch on my feathery offerings. These nice-sized panfish simply could not resist the flies. Seeing the urgency with which these panfish gobbled feathery hooks, Di thought it best to stop fishing with spinners and “practice” her fly casting. She was soon into the panfish as well.

          

We fished for about three more hours along the shoreline within thirty feet of the bridge with consistent results. Each cast produced a steady stream of smiles from Di and I and excited barks from Chloe as she “inspected” each catch before its release.

On a previous outing, Chloe inspects a fish

I was even able to hook-up with a big largemouth that took the claret woolly bugger. As Di was getting the video camera, the big ‘ole bucket-mouth pulled my line into a pile of reeds and submerged tree limbs and was gone. All that remained of my rod-bending, heart-thumping experience was a memory, smile and eight seconds of video – damn good if you are a PBR bull-rider, but not good enough for a fisherman.

On the way home, we mentally checked our schedules for the next day and concluded that, “Yes, there would be time to return again tomorrow morning.”

Day Two:

Knowing that the lake in general, and the area surrounding the fishing bridge in particular, would be more crowded on the weekend, we woke early Saturday morning and were on the lake by seven. We immediately went to the area that was so productive the day before, and looked again into the water. With large anticipatory eyes, we saw – nothing. The bass and panfish were no where to be found. Buoyed by the hope that as the sun continued to rise and warm the water, the fish would again come in to the shallows, we committed our flies to the choppy waters. After two hours and two panfish, we decided it was time for a change.

          

Like dejected wall flowers returning home from a high school prom, I returned yesterdays productive flies to their home and tied a # 14 BH rooks blueberry nymph behind a # 12 BH sparkle chartreuse wooly bugger on the eight foot rod. On the six foot rod, I tied on a # 14 BH red serendipity nymph behind a # 14 BH hare’s ear nymph. We donned our backpacks and decided to look for deep water. On the far shore across from the fishing bridge is an escarpment that cascades down to a rock ledge. From the ledge, the water plummets straight down to dark murky depths. We felt that in the depths of this cove must dwell our desired quarry; if only we could hike down. We walked up to the road and were able to locate a precarious path down to the rock ledge. We carefully picked our way to the ledge, and set down our packs. I cast the eight foot rod out so the brace of flies fell right next to the reeds and counted to ten so as to allow the beadheads to sink the flies down into the dark waters. Using a twitch and pause retrieve, I pulled the flies back. After no more than a half dozens twitches, the rod bent and a fish was on. But what was it? Surely there were bass in those depths and with the eight foot rod bent and the amount of resistance on the line, it could be a bass. After fighting the fish for a few minutes, slowly raising it from the depths so as not to break the 5X tippet, a palm-plus size crappie broke the surface of the water. The next hour and a half produced reliable catches of crappie and bluegill, all in a respectable size range.

         

We drove home sated from having partied with so many panfish, desires fulfilled, a few heart-stopping moments, pictures and video and somewhat hung-over from a great two day “Panfish Party” experience in a treasure of nature simply called Canyon Lake.

For your enjoyment, there is a brief companion video called: “Fly Fishing Dojo – Panfish Party At Canyon Lake on you tube. Here is a convenient link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs

A few words of caution when thinking about hiking down the rocky escarpments of Canyon Lake are appropriate. First and foremost, make sure you are physically fit for the challenge and bear in mind that what looks easy hiking down is a lot harder to hike up. Second, be aware of “inglorious indigent interlopers” that can ruin a fishing trip, to wit: rattle snakes, scorpions, spiders, bees and fire ants to name a few. Lastly, remember the elements. The rock ledge we fished from was totally exposed to the sun (temperatures were “only” about 85, with a uv index of about 10). Make sure you have water,snack items, sun-block (we even wore uv protection clothing) and more water. Also, please clean-up after your visit; hike it in, hike it out.

Until the next cast, I remain,

Sensei John

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