Book Report: Bows on the Little Delta

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The Bows on the Little Delta by Glenn St. Charles is arguably one of my favorite collection of hunting stories. The book chronicles the hunting trips of Glenn and his hunting partners Dick Bolding, Keith Clemmons, Fred Bear, and others as they explore hunting in Alaska with traditional archery equipment in the late 50s and early 60s. The stories are accentuated by the awesome black and white photography that shows the rugged backdrop that the stories take place in.

Although most of the stories take place in Alaska, there are several other chapters dedicated to the hunters meeting back up and hunting in other locations in North America. The stories are captivating and it is truly amazing to hear how these guys were in such virgin county hunting with their stickbows. This book is well worth the read, and one that I am glad is on my shelf, so I can read it over and over again.

Bows on the Little Delta
Bows on the Little Delta

Tying Flies

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Wheatley Fly Box
Wheatley Fly Box - A Blank Canvas

It was a slow weekend here at the Smith household and I enjoyed the opportunity to sit and replenish some of the empty spots in my fly boxes. I picked up a really nice Wheatley Box as a souvenir while I was fishing in France and it sits patiently while I try to figure what to fill it with. I imagine some traditional dries would look nice neatly tucked into the little metal box. There is nothing like a new fly box to get the fly tying juices flowing.

IBrown Trout Meat
Brown Trout Meat

In anticipation of the hopper bit dying down, I started to tie up some heavy streamer flies. While digging through one of my drawers I came across a bag of marabou feathers from the turkey that I shot with my bow last year. The gray streamers above were tied up using those particular feathers and I hope that I can move a few big browns with these flies in the upcoming trips.

Arizona Wanderings Fly Collection
Arizona Wanderings Fly Collection

Lastly, I have a couple brand new empty fly boxes that are looking lonely, so I started tying some of my favorite patterns to fill them with. Once they get filled up, I’ll put them up in the Arizona Wanderings Shop to see if anyone is interested in buying an already filled box. One way of the other, it keeps me busy tying new flies and testing patterns on the water.

Old Pueblo Chapter of Trout Unlimited

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Old Pueblo Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Getting things set up before the meeting

I had a really unique opportunity last night to speak to the Old Pueblo Chapter of Trout Unlimited down in Tucson. Now, as a junior high teacher, I am used to waxing eloquently on topics of history and government in front of 12 and 13 year olds, but talking to a group of adults is always a bit nerve-racking for me. The kind folks at OPCTU were very generous and polite to listen as I talked about the urban fishing opportunities in Phoenix, along with different techniques, tackle, and fly choice. I felt very welcome to be there and enjoyed chatting with different members before and after the meeting. It is always fun to talk about something that I am passionate about and even better when my audience is just as interested.

Many thanks to the Old Pueblo Chapter of Trout Unlimited and for Steve Reiter for inviting me down to Tucson and giving me such a warm welcome. I look forward to visiting again. For any of you that I met and talked to, please feel free to contact me if you are ever looking to get out for some urban fly fishing in the Valley.

Old Pueblo Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Old Pueblo Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Arizona Fly Fishing: The White Mountains

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Arizona White Mountains
Arizona White Mountains

Labor Day weekend in Arizona can be a crazy time in the high country. It seems that everyone packs the tents and campers and head north to get out of the valley heat. Fishing on the Rim can be downright crowded and unproductive with the holiday weekend traffic so my buddy, Antonio, and I looked for other options. After weighing some of our options, we decided to head to the White Mountains and fish one of the creeks there.

The drive up through the desert and the pines took us through some of the most beautiful country in the state. The truck bounced over the last couple of washboard miles and we pulled up to one of the prettiest pieces of water. We rigged up our fly rods, and with high hopes we fished our way upstream. The water we fished was pristine and fishy, but were surprised with the very few number of fish that we saw and caught. After lunch and a long break we hit the water again and with the benefit of a clouding sky, we caught a few fish. Antonio caught a beautiful colored brown that posed for the picture below.

Labor Day Weekend signals the beginning of the end of summer. It brings with it the hope of cooler temperatures and a reminder to get out the shotgun and start thinking about hunting birds. A day in the mountains exploring a new creek with a buddy was a great way to spend the holiday. I’m looking forward to heading back and putting some more time on this water.

Arizona White Mountains
Arizona White Mountains
Fly Fishing White Mountains
Fly Fishing White Mountains
Wild Trout
Wild Trout
Brown Trout
Antonio Brown
Bear Track
Bear Track
Fly selection
Fly selection

Rambling Review – Katadyn MyBottle Purifier

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Rambling Review – Katadyn MyBottle Purifier

Katadyn MyBottle Purifier
Katadyn MyBottle Purifier

Why:

Staying hydrated is arguably the most important aspect of backcountry fly fishing in Arizona. Carrying enough water to stay hydrated for 12 hours on the stream can be borderline backbreaking, and if you are solely relying on carrying purified water, you run the risk of running out of drinkable water on the hike out. My good buddy Antonio turned me on to the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier and I have found it to be one of the most essential pieces of gear that I carry while fly fishing.

Katadyn MyBottle Purifier
Katadyn MyBottle Purifier

First impressions:

Dimensions –  The Katadyn MyBottle is 10 inches tall and fits in most backpack/fanny-pack water bottle holders. Empty, the bottle weighs about 8 ounces

Capacity –  After cartridge displacement, the MyBottle holds 24 ounces of water.

Katadyn MyBottle Purifier
Katadyn MyBottle Purifier

Field Use:

I have exclusively used the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier for the past year for all of my small stream fly fishing. The concept behind it is pretty simple. Unscrew the cap. Dip and fill the bottle. Put the cap back on and drink. What I really like about the bottle is that I can leave it empty right up until I want a drink. This leaves me carrying much less weight in my pack. When I am ready to head out of wherever I am at, I fill up and have plenty of water for the hike back to the truck.

The model that I have has the full ViruStat Filter. I have drank many gallons through the Katadyn MyBottle and been completely fine. But here is what the Katadayn website says:

“Katadyn MyBottle personal water purification systems utilize a multi-stage, modular system. At the heart
of the system is the ViruStat® microbial purification cartridge. The ViruStat® uses iodide resin to kill
99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including Klebsiella terrigena, and 99.99% of viruses, such as
Poliovirus type 1 and Rotavirus Strain SA-11…”

At the end of every trip, I completely disassemble the water bottle and filter to let them air-dry. This is recommended by the manufacturer to extend the life of the filter and bottle as well as keeping the whole system from getting a funky smell.

The only negative thing that I can say about the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier is how tough it was in the beginning to get water out of it. At the beginning I could get water out but not without a ton of squeezing, but once the bottle and filter were broken in, it flowed much easier.

Katadyn MyBottle Purifier
Katadyn MyBottle Filter

Pros:

Lightweight (it’s glorious not having to pack in all the water you’re going to drink)

Ice-cold clean water

Convenience 

Cons:

Bottle took some time to “break in”/difficult to squeeze and get water

Prognosis:  The Katadyn MyBottle is one of my necessities that I take into the backcountry and well worth the investment.

Katadyn MyBottle Purifier
Katadyn MyBottle Purifier

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.

 

Fly Fishing Gear: My small stream essentials

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Essentials
Essentials

What is in my small stream fly fishing pack?

It is always interesting to see what other fly fishermen deem as “must haves” in their pack or vest. I have been getting quite a few questions over the past few months about the gear that I pack in to some of the backcountry spots that I fish. I thought it would be interesting to look at what is in my pockets and pack and give a detailed list of all the things that I just have to have while fishing the small streams of Arizona.

I usually ditch the vest and chest pack when fishing my usual stomping grounds. Most of the time I am wet wading in a pair of cargo short and everything that I need to have close to hand goes into my pockets. I use a small daypack for all of the heavier things that I like to have while hiking and fishing in some of the more remote streams.

These things are always in my pockets or on my person:

  1. Camera – Taking photos to remember and share my experiences is half the fun of getting outside
  2. Hemostats – I like the kind with the scissors on them because they are more functional and cut down on the need for nippers
  3. Gink – I love the dry fly and like to see it floating high.
  4. Fly Box – no brainer
  5. 3x and 5x Tippet – Whether I am using a braided leader or an old beat up leader butt section, I usually run a foot and a half of 3x tied to two feet of 5x. It’s what I’ve always done and it works.
  6. Sunglasses/Hat - These two are “must haves” for me. Sunglasses protect my eyes and the polarization give me a bit of an edge when trying to spot fish. A hat is a no-brainer in our sunny state.
Katadyn Water Bottle
Katadyn Water Bottle/Filter

Most everything else I have found to be non-essential, and these items ultimately make their way into the backpack. The daypack is nothing special but holds a couple of key things for those just in case circumstances:

  1. Long-sleeved shirt, hoodie, or rain jacket – Once the sun ducks behind the canyon walls, Arizona can get chilly. We also have some crazy storms that sneak up on you during monsoon season. Better to be prepared than to wish you had something warmer
  2. Water – My good friend turned me onto the Katadyn water bottle/filter. Lightweight and great for the backcountry
  3. Food – I love to eat. Typically a sandwich, apple, and a couple granola bars find their way into the pack
  4. Toilet Paper – You never know…
  5. Net - I don’t care how small the stream is, I always take the net. Every time I left the net in the truck with the thought of “this creek’s too small for a net” I always need a net for that big fish. I attach the net using a small magnet contraption.
  6. Possibles Bag – My possibles bag is a small nylon bag that goes in whatever pack I’m using that day. It is my “what-if” bag and without going into a ton of detail, it contains things like water purification tablets, first aid kit, fire starting material, space blanket, and other odds and ends for those just in case circumstances I hope never to find myself in.
  7. Pistol - About a year ago, I had a situation were I would have felt alot better if I had been armed. In my opinion, a firearm is a last resort tool, but I would rather carry it in my pack and never need it, as opposed to not bringing it and wish I had. I do not carry it on streams where I am not walking far, but any time I venture farther back into the backcountry, I make sure it is in my pack.

All of these items end up keeping my load pretty light for a day on a small stream. What’s in your pack?

Rambling Review – Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack

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Rambling Review – Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II
Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II

Why:

I think every outdoorsman is on the quest to find the perfect backpack. The one issue is that different situations call for different gear and so there are many great products out there for those different situations. Having said that, I may have found one of the best day packs out there – the Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack.

First impressions:

Made in the USA and Lifetime guarantee - I have a couple different products from Crooked Horn and all of them are high quality. It is great to have a company that cares enough to take pride in their product and back it up.

The Fabric - The folks at Crooked Horn Outfitters utilize a waterproof fabric called GrizHide. Not only is the fabric waterproof but it is also whisper-quiet, soft, and tough as nails.

Built in Bow/Rifle/Fly Rod Tube Pouch –  One nice feature that the Trailblazer Pack has built right into it is the Bow/Rifle pouch. I’ve also found it doubles nicely as a a rod holder too. When not needed the pouch folds up easily under the pack and is out of the way.

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II
Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack

Accessible Water Bottle and Knife Pockets – The one thing that I really like about this pack is that I can access several pockets without taking off the pack. It is especially nice when I’m fishing to be able to access the waterbottle pockets. I use the one water bottle pocket for my Katadyn bottle and the other I tuck two fly boxes in to. The same thing with the knife pockets. One has a fixed blade knife, while the other holds a pair of hemostats.

Crooked Horn Trailblazer II Pack
Crooked Horn Trailblazer II Pack

Field Use:

The Crooked Horn Trailblazer II was obviously built by an outdoorsman. The pack itself is well-thought out and is strategically put together for someone who is going to cover some country. The pack is broken down into two main sections. The main bottom compartment rides right on the lower lumbar region and secures snuggly with a durable, padded waist belt. This main compartment is closed with two buckles that make for a great place to cinch down a jacket or extra gear. The upper compartment is a bit smaller but the perfect spot for gear that needs to be handy.

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack
Pack vs. Fanny Pack

One of the coolest features of this pack is the fact that it converts from a day pack to lumbar pack. I have found this to be one of my favorite things about this pack, especially during the long hot summers of Arizona. When hiking out of a canyon, It’s nice to unbuckle the top portion of the pack and secure it to the lower clips. This allows my back to breathe, keeping me cool and on the move.

Fly Fishing - To be honest, I get more use out of this Trailblazer II as a day pack for fly fishing. What I love about it is the size. Truth be told, it is on the small size as far as day packs go, holding only 900 cubic inches, but it holds absolutely everything I consider essential for backcountry fly fishing. Truth be told, I have take a couple dunks on the slippery rocks with this pack on and completely submerged the pack. My essential gear remained dry, although I myself was drenched head to foot.

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II
Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II

Hunting - This pack is perfect for scouting for an upcoming hunting season or a bowhunting day trips. Although probably not the greatest pack for hauling out an elk, this pack surely ranks high on my list if you are looking for a pack that will keep you light and quiet for a spot and stalk hunt. The design of the Trailblazer II pack keeps it close to my back and does not let the weight hang off my shoulders. The cloth is whisper quiet and tough as nails which makes it a great choice when heading into the rough desert landscape of Arizona.

Check out this product video from Crooked Horn Outfitters.


Pros:

Made in America

Lifetime Warranty

Whisper quiet/waterproof material

Day pack converts to lumbar pack

Accessibility of the pockets

Comfortable

Cons:

Size – At only 900 cubic inches the Trailblazer II is on the smaller side of day packs

 

Prognosis:  I liked this Crooked Horn Trailblazer II Pack from the moment I laid eyes on it, and having beat it up for the past year, I like it even better now. The guys over at Crooked Horn have a dynamite pack that is definitely worth checking out.

 

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.

Fly Fishing Arizona: Backcountry Brown Trout

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Into the woods
Into the woods

It’s been raining in the high country and the creeks are in pristine condition. From even a week ago, everything is very green and the water looks healthy. Due to the storms the night before and the sky threatening more of the same, the fishing was very slow in the morning. Antonio and I both hooked a few fish, but nothing like we were catching the previous few weeks. We putzed around for a while and killed some time, waiting for the sun to move off the water, and in the end, we were glad we were patient. The evening bite certainly redeemed the day, and fish were actively cruising and looking to eat. We both pulled a couple of nice fish and I was pleasantly surprised to wrangle in healthy fish in the 15 inch range. We fished until the fading light pushed us out of the canyon and were happy with how the day unfolded.

Brown Trout
Brown Trout
Spider Web
Spider Web
Brown Trout
Brown Trout
Arizona Fly Fishing
A hard earned Arizona brown
Arizona Fly Fishing
Browns + Hoppers = a good time
Broken Fly Rod
The ultimate price