Thursday, May 16, 2013

Carpe diem. CJ Strike Offers Thrilling Fly Fishing for Carp

Wait wheres the picture of a carp! Exactly, those lumbering beasts are hard to catch and even harder to hold with one hand to snap a picture.

Fishing for carp reminds me of the saying, "one person's trash is another person's treasure." Nothing more true can be said about the common European carp. The once loathed fish, God of muddy waters, Cyprinus carpio is making a gladiatorial comeback in the arena of fly fishing. The carp or what most Idahoans just consider "trash fish" are hard fighting, intelligent, and grow huge in our warm, shallow lakes and reservoirs. As luck would have it southeastern Idaho has some great options for trying your hand at carp fishing with fly rod. I hear it's the closest thing to salt water flat fishing for action and farthest thing from it by budget. Give me the chance to catch a 20 lb fish on a fly rod while on a cheap budget and I'll show up for carp fishing every time!
A great place to start any carp fishing adventure should begin with a visit to Idaho Angler in Boise,,. Several of the guides there specialize in carp fly fishing and should be able to point you toward the right carp catching paraphernalia. From what I've read, grab your 6-8 weight rods, 1X-2X line, and have plenty of backing for long runs. I've landed a few carp on my 5 weight and 4X line but it was a 20 minute ordeal.

I have decided to devote at least a few free summer weekends a year to chasing this denizen of the muck and see what all the hype is about. Having grown up in southern Idaho, I can recommend several great places to start but in general any large, shallow, permanent body of water should hold carp (fortunately or unfortunately). Because I live in Boise, I recommend CJ Strike (Bruneau arm), Lake Lowell, Brownlee, and Black Canyon reservoir due to their close proximity to home. I will update this  blog post  as I update my skills and knowledge base.
What works: who knows? You tell me and I'll tell anyone who reads my blog.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fly fishing for Bass in Southern Idaho

Small-mouth  Bass taken from the Boise near Parma, ID
I am far from an expert on catching the frisky bass, small or large-mouth on a fly rod. However, I did do my fair share of it before I fancied myself a fly fisherman and perhaps the best thing about targeting bass on the fly is that you don't have to go very far in Southern Idaho to find them. I can tell you where I've been, where to look and even what to use and if you can't catch a bass, well then it's January and too cold. I hope that for anyone new to area or the sport that this fly fishing  blog will contain something of value.

A Ben Ross, Large-Mouth
Water temperature is the defining factor when searching for recreational waters that hold bass. Bass thrive in warm water and Southern Idaho, being a high desert environment, has hundreds of man made reservoirs used to collect our scarce water resource and they just happen to be perfect habitat for bass.  For example,  doing a quick search and one might start to notice that nearly every agricultural valley and region in Southern Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada is paired with a reservoir. It's a safe bet to assume that most major reservoirs in our area hold bass. In fact, I can't think of one large public reservoir that doesn't hold at least one species of bass.  If you live in Boise or the surrounding area you also don't have to go far to find bass. I can easily rattle off a quick list of ponds, lakes and rivers that hold bass within about one hour of Boise: Veterans Pond, Quinns Pond, Horseshoe Bend Pond, Lake Lowell, Lucky Peak, Swan Falls Res., Snake River, Lower Payette River, Black Canyon Res., Indian Creek Res., and the Boise River south of Star, ID. For the adventurous soul looking for a drive and someplace off the beaten path, I recommend Ben Ross, Crane Creek and Paddock Reservoirs which are located northeast of Weiser, ID. I highly recommend Swan Falls reservoir, below the dam on the Snake river, for anyone fly fishing for the first time bass. In late summer this stretch of the Snake river holds awesome numbers of hungry bass with frequent mega hatches making for fast and easy fishing. Take a friend there that you want to get into fly fishing and let the bass do the rest.
Catching bass of a fly rod can be easy if the conditions are right and the fish are aggressive. At these times big, ugly, colorful streams work great and allow you to break out the 2X leader in your pack. Early mornings and late evenings try a popper pattern on top or a mouse pattern and hold on the big one that might blast the surface.

 For all you bass fishermen  Cabelas is tempting this trout guy to become at least a part time bass enthusiast. Here's more info:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Camas Reservoir set to dry up.

Another fine weekend of fly fishing was had at Little Camas as the wind finally died down enough to allow for more delicate top water fishing. I had my limit (my smokers limit) packed nicely in my cooler by the first two hours of dawn. While I usually just catch and release my fish, the certainty of mass trout die-off this year has convinced me that a quick death by knife is better than slow suffocation as the lake drains.  At the rate the water is going down, I bet we have only two more weeks, then this great trout fishery ends it's six year run. The Idaho Statesman reported that IDFG has removed catch limits, so it was a free-for-all this weekend. I spied one man, who earned a sneered from me, fishing with 4 poles and a garbage can to hold his fish. The trout  are doomed I suppose and the hubris of that fisherman was just hastening the inevitable.  
Whats working: Still having my best luck with leeches which are working for trout and small mouth bass. I landed about 20 fish in 3 hours, more if I hadn't continued to try various nymphs in an attempt to learn more about the lake. Most fish taken were 12-15 inches, larger than a month ago. I spoke with the owners of Little Camas Inn again this week and they reported that a fisherman caught a 25 inch rainbow this weekend, with personal friend of mine reporting a 22 inch fish. Sad to see this great southern Idaho fishery die for the foreseeable future but good for feeding my smoker. All the trout seen here have already been smoked and most scarfed down at a Cinco de Mayo party.

When the wind settles down on this cleaver little shallow reservoir, I can not imagined a more perfect still water fishery.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Little Camas Reservoir Grows Nice Trout.

Little Camas rainbow on a Prince nymph
Thankfully, I have continued to dodge most of the blustery days on Little Camas and in general have paddled out during some ideal afternoon or morning fishing. The transition to late spring fishing is well underway now and I rarely find trout right off the shore but I am still catching most of my trout in 3 to 4 feet of water.  So far this spring has proved windy and cold, which is great for this lake as it promotes the trout fishery and delays warming. Sadly Little Camas is rumored to go dry this year (2013). Update: the lake was drawn down to a level that only small mouth bass survived, it will need several good years of water to return to the awesome trout fishery it has the potential to be. On the up side, the cooler weather at nights means we might get an extra week or two out of Camas before she heats up or goes dry...

Whats working: Flip just about any submerged rock over at Camas and you'll find leeches. I have had great luck with black and olive green leech patterns. Fish are hitting about 1 of 10 casts in the morning and evenings. I've tried numerous nymphs in tandem and the 14-16 Prince seems to be the snack of choice if nymphs are your fly of choice.. All my trout have been caught in 4 feet of water or less with a moderate smooth retrieve rate. Wading or float tubing has been great. I have enjoyed wading more lately as the 360 degrees of fishing, offered by floating, is overwhelming at times. I recommend wading out about mid-thigh deep and cast parallel to the shore or 30 degrees into deeper and shallower water. I caught 6 fish in knee deep water, only about 10 feet from shore this evening. I netted no fish over 15 inches but all were football shaped and fat. Local business owner and friend told me 22 inchers are lurking in the reservoir. I you want first hand knowledge of fishing activity and Little Camas try these links:

I also found a great link to an article about Pyramid Lake, for those dreaming of a monster cutthroat: