Normally weekends can find me fishing the small streams that Arizona has to offer. Unfortunately, many of those creeks are running full tilt due to rain and runoff. My buddy has been asking me to go to Lake Pleasant with him for some time and so I conceded. I have been working on tying up several different patterns specifically for the lakes. The “frog” is constructed from sparkle foam from a local craft store and when I tried him out at the local pond, his open face created the perfect effect of a swimming frog when stripped across the surface.
No day fishing is a waste. Having said that, trying to fish rivers and creeks overflowing with runoff rain and melted snow can be frustrating and slow. Weather reports predicted a beautiful warm sunny Arizona day and their forecast was correct. I had read different reports on this particular creek and had passed it several times on my way to Oak Creek. Knowing full well that everywhere else was going to be equally horrific, I chose to explore here for several hours. Wet Beaver Creek shows promise as it looks like most other small Arizona Creeks, and in my mind I can imagine big brown trout hunkered down behind each large rock, but today was not one of those memorable days of dragging in fish after fish. The creek was bloated with cloudy water and both banks were packed with sediment, logs, and whatever else the water picked up in the epic downpour. I fished extremely hard but did not even see a fish or feel a bump, but made use of my time practicing my roll casts and unsightly double-haul. In the future, I can see spending the time to hike in further and camp once the weather warms and the water recedes. I would like to think that I learned a valuable lesson today about not fishing saturated creeks, but rest assured I will be whipping the same horse next weekend. On a side note, I wrestled with actually posting this picture taken on my cell phone, and eventually decided to leave it as a reminder to myself that cell phones are for making phone calls and I really need to bite the bullet and buy a real camera.
I began teaching at a Phoenix area school this year. This particular school has so many great programs that invigorate students to be active and these programs create a campus life that is like no other. Within a short period of time, several students found out that I had a fishing addiction and began pushing the concept of starting a fishing club. Within a few short months of the seed being planted, the Fishing Club began to take root and grow. Our inaugural outing with the Fishing Club resulted in one fish for the group during the 4-5 hours that we fished. I had the opportunity to tie on and bait hooks, attach bobbers, undo
“rat’s nests” and a small opportunity to wet my own line. It was really a great experience at our first trip to the Salt River. Unfortunately, due to the historical rainstorms that swept through and flooded the valley, the fish seem to have migrated south into Mexico. Our school photographer showed up and managed to catch me deciding which fly to throw at the mysteriously absent fish. Overall, the students and I had beautiful weather and made good memories outside of the classroom. The goal of the Fishing Club is to give students an opportunity to be outside with others and enjoy the art/activity of fishing. We are attempting to plan an outing each month to different locations around Arizona. Our first trip was a success with many more to come…
When reading back over my limited experience fly fishing, one can see that a majority of my limited success in catching fish has come from very specific flies. The parachute adams and other variations have produced very well for me largely in part because I can maintain visual contact with my fly and see the strike. Since buying a vice, my main goal was to become proficient at producing these flies with my own hands. Tonight I found several moments to give it a try and came up with something relatively close. As always, these metal hooks ensnarled in thread and feathers are very far from perfect let alone good, but I could not help but smile when they were done. I must keep practicing.
I find myself wandering more than I should over various blogs and sites looking at tyers that are more practiced and skilled than I could ever hope to be. It never ceases to amaze me the imagination and creativity some possess. Since buying my vice and my few meager supplies, I wander frequently to one particular site in particular and I have had my eye on tying the “Hopper Juan.” I sat and tied feverishly for an hour and completed two flies that slightly resemble the original and several that will find their way to the scrap pile. Summertime will be prime time to tie this to the end of my leader and tempt a fish or two. They truly do not do the creator justice so please check out the original at the Hopper Juan.
Despite monumental amounts of rain in the Valley of the Sun and road closing snow in the high country, my mind never wanders far from fish filled waters. I spent a good amount of time this week at my vice. My tying is far from perfect, but it has become much more enjoyable because my flies are taking on some resemblance of their desired goal. Starting off, I stopped by the Orvis store in Scottsdale and had it in my mind to spend a Christmas gift card that my very understanding uncle and aunt had given me. It took me less then 15 minutes to blow through the limit, which is actually more time than I had thought it would take. Loaded with tying materials and a good book, I was on my way to start tying up some flies. I started easy and launched into a batch of brassies followed by a more laborious project of the bead-headed pheasant tails. Over time, I actually started to enjoy tying the pheasant tail nymphs and look forward to getting them wet in Arizona water.
I always look forward to Fridays. Generally, I am able to escape from work a little earlier than the usual 4 o’clock quitting time and my trip home takes me home close enough to stop by Cabelas or Sportsman’s Warehouse to say hi and paw through tying materials. This Friday, as usual, I stopped and was looking through various feathers and furs and actually opted out of several purchases because of the price. Usually my thought is, “I’ll just keep my eyes open,” or “maybe I can acquire what I need while I’m hunting.” After church on Sunday, Michelle had to stop at her “Cabelas” a.k.a. Jo-anne Fabrics. Usually, I wait helplessly in the front sitting area of the store specifically designed for men to drink coffee and look dejected. Today was different. Today, I felt empowered and started pawing through beads, feathers, fur, foam, and yarn. I believe I actually walked to the counter with more in my arms than my fiance did. I found that Jo-anne Fabrics is not a complete waste of time. I was able to find much cheaper beads, marabou, goose biots, and foam. Since being turned on to Jo-anne’s though, now I’ll have no excuse to complain when we go to a craft store. I had a bit of fun with foam once we left and tied several beetle/ant/bug contraptions. They are not pretty, but others seem to have success with them and they are extremely fun to tie.
I am looking forward to tying more and can not describe how much joy I receive from tying flies, but there is no substitute for standing knee deep in water and feeling that tug on the end of my line. Michelle agreed and looks forward to the day when her kitchen counter is no longer considered “fly tying central.”
The score remains: Javelina – 2 Me – 0. Last year was my first year hunting javelina. Since moving to the Arizona, I have had a crash course in western big-country hunting. My experience hunting as a kid revolved around patterning deer and hunting well traveled trails from corn fields to bedding areas. In Arizona, glassing large portions of land searching for specks of color to move has been difficult to get the hang of but these past two years have taught me much. Saturday morning was overcast and windy and the sun never broke through the clouds as Travis and I glassed across a canyon searching for any sign of life. I had made my grid-like sweeps of the hills before me and was getting ready to move to a new vantage point when I caught a fat pig moving from under a tree into the open. Calling Travis over, we rechecked the location of the herd, found some landmarks, and planned the long trek across the canyon. Somewhere along the journey, we lost the herd and were never able to find them again. Mid-day was spent setting up camp and the evening produced nothing other than a few female deer feeding in the fading sun.
The final morning of the hunt was clear and cold, but we did not have to sit long. Within minutes of setting up tripods and getting comfy, I spotted a herd moving slowly through the prickly pear. Wind was gauged and hopes were high, but as I picked my way through the maze of cat claw and saguaros, the herd vanished. After regrouping, I learned I had spooked the herd and we climbed to another bluff to relocate them. Amazingly, they were spotted not 60 yards away browsing. They could not have picked a worse spot as they were smack dab in the middle of loose large rocks which made unimaginable noise no matter how slow a hunter moves. Halfway to them, a covey of 50 quail flushed and not long after what remained of the javelina herd could be seen running into the next county. So ends the tail of three weekends of javelina hunting. I cannot complain about the chances I had and blew. Each day out is a new experience filled with God’s beautiful creation with many lessons to learn. Next year will bring another javelina season and maybe I will have a chance to redeem myself…
Trying to work up a little mojo for a weekend of javelina, I began fletching some new arrows. By no means do I consider myself a master of building arrows and I do little more than the finish work. When I first bought my recurve, I spent a good while reading about different arrows. The differences between woods and carbons and right wing and left wing became tedious really quickly . Upon the advice of a friend I bought the cheapest carbons I could, slapped some feathers on, and found they flew as straight as anything else I had shot. The BEMAN Bowhunters combined with weight tubes are extremely tough arrows and can withstand being blasted off of countless rocks by a poor archer. My process of cutting weight tubes, glueing nocks, sharpening broad-heads, and fletching the arrows relaxes my mind and gives me a sense that I have some control over my slight archery abilities. The finished product always brings a smile to my face and a sense of hope for hunts to come. I leave bright and early tomorrow for two more days of javelina. With any luck, I may put my new arrows to work…