Preseason prep: Flinging and Fletching Arrows

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The fixings
Ingredients

With archery javelina and deer season around the corner, I’ve been shooting the recurve even more than usual. I always enjoy fletching arrows in preparation for the new season as well as putting a new edge on the broadheads. These simple tasks paired with flinging as many arrows into the target each day puts me in a great state of mind and is one of the reasons why I love shooting a recurve.

Right wing helical
Right wing helical
At the jig
The jig
Fox Breed / Thunderhorn quiver
Always on the back of the couch for a quick session
Flinging Arrows
Flinging Arrows

Fly Fishing Arizona – High Country Lake

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The Lake
Fly fishing Arizona – High country lake

My buddy Jason and I were able to get out for a cold and windy day on one of the high country lakes. We had heard rumors of some big holdover brown trout and figured we would go and see what the lake had to offer. The lake fished well for the recently stocked brown trout and we caught fish in the morning and evening on sinking lines and streamers. None of the big boys came out to play.

Normally when I fish our streams here in Arizona, I practice catch and release, as many of the streams rely on natural reproduction to maintain their population. Stocked fish in a non reproducing lake is another story. With family coming in for the holidays, it’s nice to have a limit of fish to share. The great thing about fly fishing Arizona is that we do have year round opportunities here in this state.

Dave Scadden Pontoon
Dave Scadden Pontoon
Jason Hooked up
Jason hooked up on a nice fish
Stockers for the freezer
Stockers for the freezer

 

Rambling Review – Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line

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Rambling Review – Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line

Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line
Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line

Why:

I’ve been able to fish for a long time without a sink tip, and I have gotten away with adding lots of weight to my flies when I needed to get them deep. For fishing deep rivers and bottomless lakes, there is often a better tool for the job than a floating line, and in this case, the Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line has filled a much needed gap in my fly line selection.

Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line
Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line

First impressions:

The Sink Rate - A Type 3 sinking line offers a middle of the road sink rate at 3″ per second, compared to an intermediate line that sinks around 1.5″ per second or a type 6 that sinks at 6″ per second.

The Sink Tip and Floating Line - The Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line, as the name implies, has a 10′ sink tip while the running line is a floating line. The floating running line can make a big difference when mending line on a river.

 

Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line
Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line

Field Use:

The Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line has found it’s way into my line repertoire for two specific scenarios. The first reason is for big river streamer fishing. Often times when fishing bigger rivers, those bigger fish are holding deep waiting for bigger meals to swim by. I like to rig a short and stout leader to the sink tip and tie on a heavy streamer pattern followed by small leach pattern. Casting your flies across the current followed by a couple of big mends, allows your line to sink putting your flies at the perfect depth to tempt the deeper holding fish. Then, I strip the flies back across the current and wait for the big one to come out of the depths. This sink tip/streamer set up is a great way to mix up your offerings to fish, and can add a whole new dynamic to big river fishing.

Streamer Brown
A Colorado brown trout falling to the sink tip/streamer setup

The second one is deeper lake fishing. I have a Cortland intermediate line that excels when fish are holding in the 0-10′ depth. Some of our lakes are quite a bit deeper in Arizona, and at certain times of  the year, fish are holding 10′ and deeper. I have found that the Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip is ideal for presenting flies in these deeper lakes. My favorite fly setup is a heavy crayfish pattern followed by a Simi-Seal leech. Slow-stripping these flies along the bottoms of a dark Arizona lake can be very productive.

Casting a sink tip is always a bit of a challenge. The heavier front end of the line loads the rod differently than a regular weight forward line, and when you add in a couple of heavier flies, the casting stroke takes a bit of getting used to. I have found that proper control of the running line is very important when shooting line. If I’m not making a concerted effort to keep my line neat, I’m going to wind up with a nice big rats nest when casting.

So far, I’ve been fishing this line for around a year or so. I always make sure to clean it when I get home in soap and water as well as wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. The line shows little to no wear and I’ve been very pleased with how well it has held up.

Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line
the Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip flexing the 6wt BVK

Pros:

Excellent big river streamer line

Floating line for easy mending

Durable

Reasonable price

Cons:

As with all sink tips, it takes a bit to get the casting stroke.

Running line can tangle if you’re not careful

Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line
Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line

Prognosis:  The Cortland 444 Classic Sink Tip 10’ Type 3 line is an excellent choice if you are looking to add a Type 3 sink tip to your fly line repertoire. 

 

 

* Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  The Cortland 44 Clasic Sink Tip was provided by Cortland for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

Arizona Quail Hunting – The Lone Bird

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Quail
Lone Gambel’s

Hunting birds in the desert has a way of clearing my head. It had been a long morning of hiking hills and busting brush. We had moved a couple coveys, but my vest was still empty. We were making a loop back to the truck when birds busted in front of us. One bird peeled off, and I took off in the general direction. As I crested the ridge, she flushed and gave me a glorious crossing shot. The first barrel missed, but when the second one barked the bird folded to the ground.

One thing is for sure, all that hard work made that one lone quail the tastiest bird I’ve had in a while.

 

 

 

Arizona Fly Fishing: A walk around the ponds

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Fly Fishing Arizona
A morning walk

It’s not often that I wake up on a Saturday morning and hear my wife say, “let’s go fishing.” I had the truck packed in a few minutes, and we headed to a local spot to see if we could find some willing warm water fish. We had about an hour of walking and fishing before it was time to head home and get ready for the morning nap. The fish were there, but we didn’t connect on any. As usual, the trip ended up being less about fishing and more about spending time with my girls, pointing out the ducks and fish, and enjoying the beautiful Arizona fall weather. We’ll get those fish next time.

Carp fishing
Mama working some fish
Fishing Arizona
Along for the ride (Note the sippy cup at the ready)
Learning to spot fish
Learning to spot fishies

New Mesh Back Hats are Back in Stock

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Olive Mesh Back Fish Hat
Olive Mesh Back Fish Hat

Back by popular demand, mesh back AZ Wanderings hats are in stock in the online store. If you like what you read here on Arizona Wanderings and want to help keep the lights on, consider heading over and picking up a hat, shirt, furled leader, or a batch of flies.

The Arizona Wanderings Shop
Quail Orange Mesh
Blaze Orange Quail Mesh Back

Also, Wednesday (November 5th) I’ll be hanging out in the evening in Tucson with the Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited and sharing some of the things I’ve learned about Pyramid Lake. If you’re interested in coming out, the meeting is at the Viscount Suites in Tucson at 6:30. It’s always a good time hanging out with a solid group of anglers. So come on out and learn a little bit out fly fishing Pyramid Lake, NV.

Fly Fishing Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake Presentation – Wed 11/5/14

 

 

Arizona Quail Hunting: Gambel’s Quail

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Desert
Arizona Quail Hunting

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the desert so green and full of growth. Combine the extra cover with the birds being very shy and quiet, my first morning in the field was a slow one.  DJ and I hiked several hills and pushed a few coveys, but when the smoke cleared, there were only a few spent shells and a pair of male Gambels to show for our morning effort.

A light sprinkling of lemon pepper and a slow bake makes for a simple and juicy post hunt celebration.

Gambel's Quail
Pair of Gambels
Gambel's Quail Feet
Feet
Lemon Pepper
Lemon Pepper
Male Gambel's Quail
Doubles

Trout Unlimited: Canyon Creek Work Project

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Canyon Creek
The Bucket Brigade spreading gravel for brown trout spawning habitat

I met up with a few friends a couple weekends back to head north for the Trout Unlimited Canyon Creek Habitat Project. Trout Unlimited has been working with Arizona Game and Fish Department to enhance the spawning habitat in Canyon Creek through the addition of gravel to key locations on the creek.

Canyon Creek, a wild brown trout fishery here in Arizona, has had a rough go of it over the past 12 years. The Rodeo-Chediski fire in 2002 burned through the watershed, destroying much of the habitat and decimating the creek. In 2005, work groups, in coordination with Game and Fish, began to restore riparian habitat and and bring the creek back to it’s former glory. The river above the OW Bridge is managed as a put and take fishery, while below the bridge down to the reservation line is managed as a catch and release wild brown trout fishery. The creek has recovered nicely over the years and I’ve been lucky to pull several nice fish from it’s waters. But in the past couple of years, anglers and Game and Fish have noticed a significant drop in the number of fish in the creek. AZGFD biologists have attributed this to a couple of very dry/hot summers with marginal spawning taking place.

In 2013, Game and Fish along with Trout Unlimited conducted it’s first spawning habitat work project where they laid down roughly 20 tons of gravel in the creek. (My friend Kristen did a great write up on it here.) Almost immediately, they began seeing results. In the fall of 2013 in the two 100′ gravel enhancement locations, biologists counted over 30 redds (spawning sites) which was  50% more than they had seen before in the whole 2.5 mile stretch of catch and release water. With such a positive outcome from last year and the funds/approval still in place, TU and AZGFD teamed up again to lay a bit more gravel in the creek before the browns get into spawning mode this fall.

In spite of the early morning rain, we were able to put several more tons of gravel down in Canyon Creek to continue restoration and enhancement of valuable spawning habitat. Curt Gill, Arizona Game and Fish Fisheries Program Manager along with Jim Walker, President of the Zane Gray Chapter of Trout Unlimited deserve much of the credit for spearheading these projects. It was great to see some work going into this creek and I look forward to seeing what effects this new spawning habitat will have on the creek.

 

Here’s a couple of things to think about when heading out this fall:

1. Stay off the redds - Stay out of the creek as much as you can. Be especially mindful of trout redds (spawning sites). Redds are areas where trout have cleaned the gravel in anticipation of laying eggs in the creek bed. Typically, they are more noticeable because the gravel is a different color than surrounding gravel and rocks. Stay off of these areas in order to protect the next generation of trout. Tread carefully.

2. Don’t fish to actively spawning trout - In the same vein of thought as the previous point, leave spawning fish alone. If you’re noticing brown trout on a redd or protecting a certain area of the creek, it’s extremely important to leave them be. Trout expend a large amount of energy spawning and getting yanked out of the water is a great way to kill a fish and hurt the fishery. Let me be clear. In my opinion, fishing to an actively spawning wild trout in Arizona is unethical. Our creeks are delicate ecosystems and messing around with an obviously spawning trout is not cool.

3. Get involved - It’s tough to do, but our beautiful state needs all the help it can get. Even if you’re not a TU member, at least shoot get on their mailing list and learn when the work groups are happening. Bring a friend. Bring your wife. Bring your kids. Come lend a hand at the next event.  There are free donuts.

 

Trout Unlimited
The things we do for trout and free donuts
Trout Unlimited Canyon Creek Work Project
Trout Unlimited Canyon Creek Work Project
Canyon Creek
Rim Country

Check out the results from the 2013 gravel project below.