Arizona Fly Fishing: Christmas Tree Lake

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Apache Trout
Apache Trout

I finally crossed Apache trout off my species list. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived in Arizona for going on 8 years and have just now laid hands on my first Apache trout. I’ve pulled in a couple of hybrid Apache/Rainbows off of a couple of creeks in the past, but these were my first true gold, speckled, Apache trout. My good buddy Kyle and I ran up to the Whites for a long day trip to work some fish at Christmas Tree Lake. Christmas Tree Lake is located on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and is known to hold some large Apaches and the occasional big brown. Since picking up my Scadden pontoon boat, it’s been fun to explore some of the stillwaters, that were not really accessible to me before. We met up early and made it to the lake just after sunrise.

What we weren’t expecting was the hellacious wind that ripped across the lake. The wind swirled from every different direction and spun our pontoons around like we were on the teacups at Disneyland. It made for an interesting day of fishing. We were lucky enough to pick up a few fish early in the day on ant patterns while the wind was a bit milder, but we had to wait for the evening bite to pick up any more fish. Regardless, it was a beautiful day in the mountains on one of the most picturesque lakes in the state.  I look forward to heading back up in the future for a less windy day on the lake.

Christmas Tree Lake
Christmas Tree Lake
Apache Trout
Bent
Christmas Tree Lake
Christmas Tree Lake
Christmas Tree Lake Creel Limit
Christmas Tree Lake
Apache Trout
Apache Trout

Book Report: The Pulp Fly Empire

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Pulp Fly Collections
Pulp Fly

I was a little bit slow on the uptake. Reading on an iPhone or a tablet never really appealed to me. Even though I spend a good amount of time reading on the computer, there is nothing I like more than a good book in my hands. That all changed when I took the plunge, downloaded a kindle app for my iPhone and ordered Pulp Fly: Volume One. In a word: Fantastic There were several writers I was familiar with like Matt Smythe, Bruce Smithhammer, Matt Dunn, and Alex Landeen, paired with several new authors that were not in my regular reading repository. Each short tale revolved around the theme of fly fishing although they all had their own unique story line. The only problem with the first Pulp Fly was that I ended up reading it too fast.

Pulp Fly
Pulp Fly: Volume Two

I reread through the collection several more times before the world was blessed with Volume Two and  some time later Volume Three. The second and third installments of Pulp Fly certainly did not disappoint. Delivered to the palm of my hand with a couple clicks, I was reading the next collections of stories from familiar writers like Erin Block, Jay Zimmerman, and Tom Reed along with a sprinkling of new names that were instantly added to my must read/follow list.

Mouthful of Feathers
Mouthful of Feathers: Upland in the West

As if things couldn’t get any better, the Pulp Fly team put together an all-star lineup of upland hunters/writers for the first (and hopefully not last) installment of Mouthful of Feathers: Upland in the West. Between flushing birds, hunting dogs, and dirt roads, I couldn’t get enough. It truly is an excellent collection of writers and stories. The team behind Pulp Fly has set the bar extremely high and laid the ground work for what I can only hope will be a future filled with more volumes of fly fishing and upland hunting collections. If you haven’t been blessed with reading one of these collections, you owe it to yourself to spend the measly five dollars and download the first one. They are all well worth the price of admission.

Three important fishing tips

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Arizona Wanderings
The Mrs.

I like to fish, and every chance I get, I’m packing the truck and heading for the hills. Now, I know that compared to an unmarried fishing guide or a retiree, I don’t fish that much, but I have a wife, a child, an 8-5, and a mortgage, and still I successfully manage to put in 30-40 days fishing or hunting a year. To me, that’s a success.

I often get asked by several of my buddies, how I talk my wife into letting me go fishing and hunting all the time. There is an easy answer to this. I married up. End of story. My wife is extremely understanding and knows that if a couple weekends go by and I’m not fishing or hunting, I’m going to be a basket case.

Having said that, I would offer several tips to  the poor sucker whose wife is busting his balls for going fishing too much. (Full disclosure: I’ve tried all of these and they work.)

Notes
Notes

#1. Handwritten notes – I found a small journal in the closet that wasn’t seeing any use, so I started a tradition of writing my wife a note and telling her how much I love her and where I was going for the day along with the details of when I should be getting back into cell service. She says that she really enjoys getting up on Saturday mornings, reading what I wrote, and getting to see where I’m going. She thinks it’s sweet, although on several occasions she has threatened to publish all of my secret fishing spots. I think they call that blackmail.

wildflowers
Wildflowers

#2. Wildflowers – This is a winner. When the seasons are right here in Arizona, we have some pretty spectacular wildflowers. When I find a decent spot on one of the backroads, I’ll pull over and cut a small bouquet for her, put them in my coffee cup full of water, and romantically (or at least as romantically as I can smelling like sweat, dust, and fish) give them to her when I get home. This goes a long way in softening things up when you get back from a long day of fishing.

spooling
That family that spools line together…

#3. Involve her - Everyone needs their own space and downtime. Fly fishing has become my escape and I often use the time to recharge my batteries while enjoying the solitude of nature. Although my wife had never really shown much interest in fly fishing, she made mention of wanting to give it a try when we hiked into the Grand Canyon and camped on Bright Angel Creek. When she pulled her first wild rainbow out of the creek, I think I was more excited than she was. Over time we have had several opportunities to fish together, and I know she has a better understanding of why I love it and need to take off on a Saturday. Now on long car rides, she’s cool to even listen to a couple of Tom Rosenbauer podcasts to break up the drive. How does it get any better than that?

AZWanderings
When she tells this story to people, the fish has grown to 20″

Anyone else have any tips or tricks?

 

Rambling Review: Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack

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Rambling Review – Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack

Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack heading down into the Grand Canyon

It’s funny how an item can conjure up the most vivid of memories. I’ve got quite a collection of packs in the guest room closet. My wife would disagree with me calling it a “collection” as she’s on the verge of calling that horders show from TV. Regardless, I’ve got packs of every shape and size for every different occasion and I’m pretty proud of the collection. As I was rearranging some things in that closet, I came across one pack that has really stood the test of time while traveling up many mountains, down into more than a couple of canyons, and across the ocean on a trip to Europe. The Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack is most certainly not the coolest looking pack and due to it’s size, I have the tendency to pack it with more than I should,  but I have found it to be one of the most comfortable and rugged packs that I’ve used.

When I saw the pack hanging there, I could remember the burn in my legs on that last quarter mile coming out of the Grand Canyon and how glorious it was to finally reach flat ground. I remembered trying to stuff it into the overhead compartment of the plane for our flight to France, trying not to make eye contact with the flight attendant for fear of her telling me that it would have to be checked. It still has pine needles in it from the last overnight trip into the woods, and it wears multiple smudges dirt like hard fought medals of honor.

I finished stowing the gear that I was rearranging and shut the door to the closet, but not before taking the pack off the hook looking it over. It’s still in  great shape and ready for another adventure. Guess I better get something planned.

Disclaimer: This isn’t my normal format for a Rambling Review because this pack design is no longer available as Gregory has since come out with an updated design. I feel though that a good piece of gear still deserves it’s day in the sun. If Gregory continues to make gear like the Baltoro, the new packs should be worth checking out. 

Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro on a street corner in Europe
Gregory Baltoro
The Baltoro on a train somewhere in Europe after what appears to be a long and exhausting day.
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro in a nameless canyon in Arizona
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack getting ready to come out of the Grand Canyon

 

* Real 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.  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 Fly Fishing: To the Mountains

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Sunrise
Sunrise

With a long week of work behind us, we made an extremely early morning drive to the mountains to escape the heat and beat the crowds. We rolled into the parking lot and could see the fish rising from the bank. The air was chilly, which made the water warmer than expected as I eased into the water and worked the pontoon boat out away from the launch. The boat got a good workout and I’m feeling a bit more comfortable on the water. I still have plenty to learn about stillwater fishing, but managed to pick up a handful of fish, on a mix between intermediate line with a couple of simi-seal buggers and hanging midges.

We had the water to ourselves until about 10:30 and by noon we were off the water  to make way for the onslaught of the Memorial Day weekend crowds. I think I can get used to this stillwater thing.

Solitude
Solitude
Fishpond
Trout
Flies
Flies
Kristen
An exceptional fish
Damsel
Damsel

Book Report: The Sean Stranahan Mystery Series

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Sean Stranaham Mysteries
The Sean Stranaham Mysteries

I’m always looking for something interesting to read. Most of my bookshelves are a laden with a heavy dose of fly fishing and hunting with a spattering of history and philosophy left over from college, and I don’t have much in the way fiction in my collection. I recently had the chance to get my hands on a couple of books by Keith McCafferty. McCafferty who daylights as the Survival and Outdoor Skills Editor for Field and Stream, has written several novels that center around the main character, Sean Stranahan.

The novels follow this part fly fisherman, part artist, part private eye on his exploits in rural Montana. I really enjoyed reading through the stories that are full of fly fishing and outdoor references and the pages really fly by. If you’re looking for something to fill a day in the hammock, a Sean Stranahan mystery might be right up your alley.

Keith McCafferty
Keith McCafferty
Keith McCafferty
Keith McCafferty
A Sean Stranahan Mystery
A Sean Stranahan Mystery

Arizona Fly Fishing – Hoppers

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brown1
Brown

The weekends in May fill up pretty quick for me. Between Mother’s Day and our anniversary, I’m lucky to find time to get onto the water. In the end, I found a free Saturday early on to make a long day trip to the Whites. With the ridiculously dry weather here in AZ, our creeks look like they normally do in July, and the hoppers are on the banks. The fish are looking up, and  I was able to pick up a few good ones to round out a great day on the water. Can’t ask for much more than this, except maybe some rain.

altoids
Hopper fly box
Brown Trout
Hopper Brown
fly reel
White Mountains, AZ
nymph
Nymph
turkey tracks
Turkey Tracks

Higa’s S.O.S Variations

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Higa's SOS Fly
Higas SOS Varient

The original Higa’s S.O.S. fly pattern has long been a staple in my fly box and has proven itself to be a dynamic fly that seems to work just about everywhere. With many fly patterns I like to make small variations to use up different materials that I have or to meet a need that I have for a particular creek. This variation of Higa’s S.O.S. makes for the perfect dropper here on our AZ creeks and is extremely quick and easy to tie.

Hook – any size caddis style hook

Bead – to match wire

Thread – UTC70

Tail – Gambel’s quail

Wire – size small

Wingcase – Danville 4 strand Rayon

Thorax – Haretron Dubbin to match

Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly
Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly
Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly
Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly

 

Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly
Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly
Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly
Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly
Higa's SOS Fly
Higa’s SOS Fly