Good morning folks,
It's been a little while since my last post, but I have a good reason. Much like the rest of the country, Georgia has been getting an awful lot of rain lately. Since my last post, I've only been fishing twice. I got skunked both times. I've been spending some time learning to tie flies and packing for my upcoming move to a new apartment. We've been pretty busy at work recently and on top of that, there's only a few weeks left until school starts back. Where did the summer go?
I took the kayak out to Lake Lanier the Saturday before last. The morning was very overcast, there was a pretty stiff wind on the lake and the water had a pretty good chop to it. I had my 2 weight TFO rod and fought the wind with every cast. The fish must have been down deeper than I could get with my floating line. After 3 hours on the water I only had two soft strikes. I didn't hook up once. I threw every fly I had that my two weight could handle. Then started throwing the flies that it couldn't! Finally, I tied on this big, black streamer-/woolly bugger-type fly that I bought too long ago to remember and noticed bass nipping at its tail. I'm a fan and follower of the teachings of Tom Rosenbauer and the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast and one of his most often reiterated pieces of advice is that if the fish are showing interest, but make a last second refusal, change size first! Well, that's all well and good, but I didn't have another size of that pattern. After about 20 minutes of watching the small fish try to school with my fly, I paddled back to the launch and called it a day. Skunked. But, with a plan.
I spent the next few days listening to the rain fall and researching fly patterns and tying recipes (when I wasn't at work, anyway). I decided to try my hand at tying up some woolly buggers, but most of the recipes I could find were for larger hooks, sized 6 through 10. I wanted something smaller. I determined that I could follow the instructions I had found, and just scale it down to a smaller hook. Then, I stumbled upon instructions for tying wooly buggers on a size 14 hook and I decided that it could be done, pretty easily. I bought the needed materials (I thought tying flies was supposed to be cheaper than buying them?) and spent an evening at the tying vise. I'm a beginner at fly tying, so it took me a few hours to come up with a half dozen flies, but it's a very easy pattern to tie and probably a very good one for a beginner like me to get started with. I've read that black, brown and white are the three preferred colors for wooly buggers, so that's what I tied. I didn't use bead heads, but did put lead under the body to weight the fly down.
So, armed with a half dozen, newly tied mini-buggers, I hit the lake again this past Sunday. The weather seemed a bit more cooperative, big clouds about, but mostly sunny and not nearly as breezy as the weekend before. I spoke to a couple gentlemen bank fishing and learned that the fish weren't biting. In the two hours they had been there, they only caught one fish a piece, both catfish on bait. I pushed off from the boat launch and started to paddle back to one of my most productive spots so far. I stopped and fished some along the way, but got no bites. I was amazed at how few fish I could see in the water. Normally, it seems, you can see bream and small bass swimming amongst the rocks in the shadows. I paddled into a grassy area to fish around a fallen tree that has produced good bites in the past. Not even a bite. At one point, the best fish I had seen in a while showed themselves. In about 2 feet of water there swam three carp that were each, easily, 18" long. Swimming directly under and around my kayak, with I good net, I could have grabbed them! They showed absolutely no interest in my size 14 wooly buggers.
|Size 14 Mini Bugger|
In the three hours I was on the lake fishing, I got two soft, but splashy, strikes. I had things to do at home, so wasn't able to put in any more time. By the time I made it back to the car, I had paddled almost 5 miles. You tend to feel paddling that kind of distance more when the fish aren't biting. I loaded up and went home.
I got skunked, two weekends in a row. See now why I haven't posted? So, what have I learned? If you're not going to catch fish, you should at lease learn something about fishing, right? I need to do some more research, but I'm guessing that due to the cloud cover over the lake the fish must have been holding deeper than I could reach with my mini bugger and floating line. At one point I had crimped on a small split shot to my line. That seemed to garner the most attention. I think I'm going to spend some time tying some more mini buggers, but this time I might try some tungsten bead heads. I also might have to look into investing in a spare spool and some sink tip line. One of the purposes of the original wooly bugger was to imitate leeches. From what I've read, freshwater leeches tend to prefer living in and around rocks. I need to tie my mini buggers so they will get down into the crevices of the rocks and can be worked in and around. The buggers I tied had 5-7 wraps of .015 lead wire, but with the chenille and marabou it just wasn't enough to take the fly down more than a foot and a half or so. Even to reach that shallow depth required me to wait probably a full minute. Being that I'm still new to fly fishing, coming off of years of fishing Texas rigged worms on spinning gear, I'm not used to waiting so long for my lure to reach the bottom. A bit more weight on the fly and a sink tip line might just do the trick.
Hopefully soon I'll have some caught fish to share with you. I'll post a photo tutorial on the mini buggers that I tied. I'm still working to get them right and practice my tying skills, but you folks can critique me on how I'm doing so far.
Thanks for reading. Tight lines and Happy fishing,
Jim Misiura - Wooly Bugger Tutorial
Tim Cammisa - Wooly Bugger Tutorial
The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast
Today's EquipmentFlyrod: Temple Forks Outfitters 6'6" 2wt
Fly Reel: White River Fly Shop 3/4
Line: Rio 3wt WF
#14 Mini Wooly Buggers asst. colors
Kershaw Ken Onion Scallion