Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Fish, but Clydesdales!

Open this link first in a new page and minimize it;

I heard it on my ipod this morning and wanted it to be on my blog.
So.  Tonight was interesting. I got off work and hammered down to get home cause the weather was absolutely fantastic.  I had a spot on the beach that I have been eyeing for approximately a year now.  So I stopped at home, changed into my wade fishing clothes and headed off to the beach.  About a half mile from where we were going to pull over and start wading, there was a crowd of people and traffic was slowing.  I hurried up and got into the turn lane and veered off to see what everybody was looking at. Who would have guessed the Budweiser Clydesdale's were visiting.  My buddy and I got our share of pictures and it was off to the beach.

They went for two.
That man was as tall as me.
Andy's having a good day too.

So, anyways on with the fishing.  I learned why Sid, the fly casting instructor that has been holding lessons for members of HOSSFLY, my new fly fishing club, says practice your casting before you go fishing.  I decided to use a weighted fly tonight that sinks.  Having a heavy weight on the end of your leader make a huge difference! I spent a good half an hour trying to get rid of "wind knots" that had gotten stuck up in my leader. It definately took a while to get used to the heavier fly.  A little practice would have alleviated this problem.

I just got all the knots out of my leader.
Something else I tried this evening  that seemed to help with the heavier fly weight, the double haul.  Sid showed me this technique the last fly casting lesson I had and by the end of the lesson I was doing it pretty well.  I still don't look graceful like he does, but tonight, I had the fly line SCREAMING out of my rod.  It was a pretty good feeling to be able to take some of the work out of one arm and distribute to the other.  If you have never tried the double haul technique, I'll attach a link to a solid instructional video taught by a fly casting legend Sid told me about named Mel Krieger so you can learn.  This video plus Sid's instruction I would say has given me pretty solid start on the technique that proved to be the end of my difficulty with the heavier fly this evening

Mel Krieger teaches the Double Haul

This really leads me to my next point.  I'm going to try to avoid giving actual instructions on fly casting techniques in this blog.  If I find a video or article that helped me learn something new, I'll post that. However, I will absolutely avoid pretending like I'm any authority on what I'm doing.  The reason for that is this.  There are classes and seminars people go to to learn common terminology and ways to teach fly casting techniques.  When a person leaves this class they get the value of being in a community of people who understand fly casting well enough to teach it.  That takes a pretty special individual, as I learned today while I was picking knots out of my leader instead of fishing. 

Sid is a pretty special individual.  He is currently working on his Master's Certification for fly casting.  He is a qualified instructor and an absolute wealth of knowledge.  He recently got back from Belize and had some fantastic stories to tell about fishing for Tarpon.  One day I hope I can go to Belize after what he told us about the trip.  He's a selfless individual.  He seems to genuinely enjoy watching Brian, my roommate, and myself  learn when we get together for our lessons.  Thanks Sid!

The next point I wanted to make while I was on here was this.  If there is a fly fishing club in your area and you have a desire to learn to fly fish, JOIN THE CLUB.  HOSSFLY (Historic Ocean Springs Fly Fishing Club) has made me feel incredibly welcome. I was actually invited on a wade fishing trip to the Barrier Islands for the next weekend after my first business meeting (which I had to decline cause my fly rod was late arriving!!!! DAMN IT!)!  The club seems to be about four things; Fly Fishing, protecting the environment, promoting the sport of fly fishing to as many people as possible, and comraderie.  Everybody seemed to enjoy everybody elses company, new or old.  I will be getting more involved with this group as it represents a great cause and opportunity to meet somebody new.

Anyways, tonight's trip yielded no fish. It yielded promise for better fishing though as the bait fish (small fingerlings) were abundant in the shallows and you could actually see pods of bait breaking to avoid the attack of a predator (maybe flounder?).  They also seemed to like the way the hair on my legs tasted.

All in all though, it was a great afternoon and I actually fished till after dark.  The moon came up. The water calmed down and I was at peace.  Too bad I have to go to work tomorrow. I'd still be fishing ;).

Beautiful Day!!!!!  It's rough being me sometimes.
I thought I had got the moon. Darn.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Start of Something good

In October of 2010, I was sitting in the airport in Gulfport, Mississippi on a flight across the country.  1500 miles meant I had a lot of sitting to do and I had left my PSP and Ipod at home.  As I sat, I thought, "Wow, that was dumb."  So, I got up and went to the magazine store in the airport and started browsing the outdoor section for a good read while I was a mile up in the air. As I flipped through the selections, I discovered this magazine with the bluest pristine water and a beach in the background.  In the forefront was a fish with giant dorsal fins so long they bent over at their own weight.  The fish was blue, teal, and green with vibrant black stripes to break up each splotch of color. And holding this fish was a gorgeous woman with a fly rod underneath her left arm.  I thought to myself, "fish, the beach, and hotties; should be a good read."  Turns out the fish was called a Roosterfish, which was a cool name in itself, and it was caught in Baja California, Mexico.  The magazine was called "Fly Fishing in Salt Waters."  I read the entire thing from front to back, even the advertisements.  I'll try and scan in a photo of the cover.  The pure obsession that the people seemed to have with the subtle nuances of the different casting techniques, the engineering of the rod so that it flexes and launches the bright colored fly line precisely, the attention the authors paid to environmental stewardship and boat etiquette while on the water in their articles, and the pictures was so refreshing for a guy who was sick of the million dollar bass tournaments and the ridiculous professional anglers that scream like psychos when they catch a fish.  Fishing is not about catching fish, which mainstream outdoors television would lead you to believe.  It is about the heightened awareness and connection that fishing brings you to the environment and your surroundings.  Have you ever had an 8 ft. shark come up from an oil rig, check you out, and go back to dinner? I have.  Do you have family members who have passed and your favorite memories are of them showing you how to tie a hook on your line and how excited you were to learn? Talk about heightened awareness.  I can only think of one fishing trip in my life that I didn't have any fun, but that was because a jellyfish got into my swim trunks and had nothing to do with the fact that we didn't catch fish.

This isn't the picture, this is just a good one I found of a rooster fish on google.

Fast forward six months. It's go time.  The fish are waking up from their winter snooze, the warm weather is on its way, and I can't see any reason to put off learning something that has the opportunity of getting me to Baja Mexico to fish on the beach with hotties who feel the same as me about the environment and fishing. That's what this blog is about.  I'm writing my experiences fishing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, my progress in developing a hobby that has the potential to stay with me till I die, and the experiences and fun that me and my friends will have, fish or no fish. I am not a technical master of fishing or fly casting. I have a few spots I've found in and around Ocean Springs and Biloxi, Mississippi that hold Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder.  Like I said, go time.
My Gear:
Redfish Fly Assortment from Cabela's. Very Nifty looking flies for a guy who is used to Lead heads and Cocahoes.   

LL Bean Quest III 4 Piece 8 Wt. Outfit, Approx $150 with shipping. I'll get the expensive stuff when I win the lottery.
 So obviously when I got home from work today and saw my packages had arrived, there was no question about where I was headed.  I picked up my buddy and we headed down to the beach to wet a line. 73 degrees. Sunny. Winds were approximately 15 knots outta the south east and it made it difficult to cast in that direction. Who cares, the wind may blow on my fishing trip in Baja.  It's go time.
Me with my new love.  Never leave me baby.
Did we catch any fish? Yes. My friend caught the first speckled trout of the year wading off of east beach. Was it giant? No. Could I get a picture of it? No, because it wiggled off of the hook as he was reaching in the water to grab it.  That good release means he will grow to be bigger the next time we hook him.  I will be better about photo ops as I am still learning this blog stuff.

I also had my first fish pick up my fly on a fly rod ever, but was so startled by the fact that something was pulling on the other end of the line, I forgot to set the hook.  I panicked and was almost knocked off my feet by the swells that were being kicked up by the wind behind me.  The weather was perfect.  I feel great and very excited about the twist that I am putting on my favorite hobby.

Also, check out this website.  My housemate, who is bound to be featured in this blog at some point, showed it to me.  Why fly fish?  This is why.
 Fishing is fun.  May your lines stay tight and your drinks stay cold.