All Water Guides

Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Service in Central Texas

2016 Orvis Guide of the Year Finalist

2015 Orvis Guide Service of the Year Finalist

REALITY CHECK

Being the greenest member of this group when it comes to guiding I had a less than comfort level with the Guadalupe, professionally speaking.  With a couple trips around the corner I asked Alvin to play Client for a day and join me on the Guadalupe on his next day off.   First, this says a lot about Alvin.  He knew it was important enough to me to do and as the Boss his “open door” policy meant that on his day off (a cold and windy one at that) he would spend it with me on the water and away from home. Honesty, any of the guys would have done it.  Good dudes for sure!

A walk to the boat

So now that I’m done kissing ass I’ll say this.  I’ve got no problem rolling into a joint I know nothing about and catching fish.  Fish gotta eat, and I’m good enough to catch them, as I did last month in the “middle of nowhere” Kentucky.  This “lunch with the boss” was all about AWG clients. I’ve fished the Guad enough to know the “fishing” aspect this trip was more logistics.

With an open seat on the boat and my spot for the day being understood (just row, Winston) I invited a dude who, in my opinion, is Central Texas fly-fishing, Mr Diefische.  If you follow Diefische (I think you should) you know that last year he unlocked the Guad and will probably do so again this year.  He is a great writer, a solid fisherman and  humble, as the day we were about to have is long.  Fun dudes to have on the boat for sure!

So we pushed off around 1200 and to make a long story short, 4 hours later we had managed 1 fish.  I had 2 dudes that knew that river as well as anyone.  We fished flies we knew work and when they didn’t we changed it up to others.  We didn’t “throw the kitchen sink” at them instead we focused in finer on what we knew had worked in the past and fished a little harder.

 

Say Cheese Mr fische

I was out for other reasons than just catching fish, so for me the day was hugely successful.  Tail Waters are tricky; they seem to have an on/off switch.  This was a good reminder that when the fishing is off the fish don’t care who is in the boat.  As we said our goodbyes I remembered what my friend Jake said once “a skunk day will show you more about the character of your fishing buddies than anything else” but we didn’t get skunked so who cares what Jake and those “chi Wulff guys” think.

That dreaded ramp, "joe client" no more...crank it Alvin

A good reality check sure does sting sometimes.

Tight Lines,

AWG

What's working?

Lately, a lot of folks are asking me the same question, "what flies are working?" We are keeping it simple throwing crawfish patterns in black and brown as well as Clouser Minnows in chartreuse and white. Also, we did manage to catch a few nice fish on poppers this past week when the weather and water temps permitted. Pretty basic patterns are the ticket for winter bass on the Colorado River.

My new favorite crawfish pattern is the Lead-eyed Double Bunny Crawfish (AKA "DB Craw") tied on 1/0 — 2X Mustad Signature hook. The two most productive colors are black and brown/orange. As predicted all of my crawfish patterns are tied with with a 25# mono (Hard Mason) weed-guard.

In the winter we get a really good run of white bass mixed in with our usual catches of Guadalupe and large mouth bass. We have yet to find a more productive fly for white bass than the Clouser Minnow. The best color has been chartreuse and white Clousers using 1/32 oz. on lead-eyes tied on a 1/0 — 2X Mustad Signature hook with a 25# mono (Hard Mason) weed-guard.

Winter bass fishing is great right now so grab a handful of crawfish and Clouser patterns and your favorite 6-weight the bass are ready and willing!

The Bench Warmer

No one wants to be called a “bench warmer”, but the truth is, every team relies on crucial players that spend most of their time on the bench. So, what does this have to do with fly fishing? As fishing guides we are all very reliant on fly boxes stuffed full of well-crafted flies, which have to be tied by someone with special skills manning a fly tying “bench”.  For us a bench warmer is someone who can spend hour after hour at the tying bench cranking out flies.

Over the course of a season we go through a ton of flies and we can’t physically—or mentally—handle tying flies day-in and day-out. We are talking about hundreds of flies, some of which are difficult and time consuming to tie and quite frankly, beyond our skill set. Additionally, many of our favorite patterns are custom, meaning that they vary greatly from the flies you can find in your local fly shop or online retailer. In almost all cases our flies need to be more durable, have specific color variations, and other incorporate finishes like heavy weighted eyes and stout weed guards.

For the last couple of years I kept seeing photos and reading post from a group of hardcore smallmouth and pike fisherman in the northeast who were catching nice fish on beautiful flies tied by this crazy bearded and tattooed fly tier named Pat Cohen. Sure enough I checked out Pat’s website and friended him on Facebook and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Pat has some mad tying skills that I will never master.

Pat not only speaks bass fishing, he is also a diehard bass fisherman. It shows in his flies, which reflect his vast knowledge of bass, where they hide, what they eat, and most importantly, what they can be fooled by. I am excited that Pat has offered to work with me and All Water Guides to further develop a his already incredible line of crawfish, baitfish, popper and diver patterns. With our year-round bass fishery here in Texas—our northern brethren don’t get to bass fish all winter like us—and plenty of huge river bass we have the ability to field test new prototypes and refine existing patterns giving Pat “real-time” data all year long.

I spent the weekend testing some custom divers Pat recently tied for me. Despite poor water visibility, cold temperatures and heavy weekend fishing pressure these divers moved some huge bass. See for your self how beautiful Pat’s flies are—follow him on Facebook or better yet visit his website and order flies from him direct.

Imagine this. Pat ties every fly himself—using the absolute best materials—and when you call him on the phone you actually get to speak to Pat. As far as we are concerned a bench warmer is a good thing and when Pat Cohen is at his bench that means we can all be catching fish.

http://www.rusuperfly.com/

 

Jet Boatin' Road Trip

Jeff Davis and I took a little road trip to southern Missouri the other day. The reason was to pick up a jet drive outboard for my new Hog Island Skiff. We kept getting asked why we were driving so far to buy a boat motor.

Well you see this is no ordinary boat motor. Outboard jets are not real common in this part of the country. Anglers in Arkansas and Missouri have used jet powered boats for years to access shallow rocky sections of their rivers that conventional prop driven boats would never survive in. 

On rivers where there is little access or long distances between put ins and takeouts, a jet boat can open up miles of seldom fished water. When floating under oar or paddle power fishing a 6 mile section of the river can take all day. With the option to use the engine we can cover 12 to 20 miles of water with no problem.  Because we are in no hurry to get downstream we can take our time in the best water and motor through the less productive sections. 

A Night of Friends and Flip-flops

I had a great time as the guest tyer at Sportsman’s Finest (SF) Tuesday night fly tying class. We tied up the infamous Flip-flop Popper designed by All Water Guides’ head guide Alvin Dedeaux. We had a packed house and plenty of nice poppers for everyone’s fly boxes at the end of the night—bass be aware! The Flip-flop Popper is a staple in my bass fly box and accounts for the majority of all bass caught on the fly.  If you want the “recipe” stop by SF and they will set you up with everything you need.

Watch All Water Guides’ Best of 2012 video to see the Flip-flop Popper in action: https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10200769969428745

 

 

As always, the SF crew—Greg, Stacy, Chuck, Ted, and Lindy—was amazing. The Austin area is fortunate to have a great fly shop that always goes the extra mile for it’s customers and the greater fly fishing community. Thanks again to SF and Greg for the invitation!

Remember folks, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FLY SHOP!

 

 

popper_proof.jpg

The dark side of fly fishing

I like sinking lines; there I’ve said it.  Don’t get me wrong I love banging the banks with a large Flip Flop Fly or one of Alvin’s Foamy fold-over things.  When the fish are looking up and the water is clear, sight casting to bass as we do is without a doubt the way to go.  Blasting one of these flies into cover and watching it get crushed from below after a couple strips is awesome but the fish are not always going to cooperate with our desire. 

I’m not sure where the controversy started or even if it exists (truly) but people seem to cringe with pain when I mention anything "sinky."  We still get to fly fish when we use a sinker.  We continue to use a fly rod to cast a line that in turn drags a weightless fly along with it.  I am by no means a great caster and do find casting a sinking fly on floating line a problem. My casting becomes labored, cumbersome and just plain UGLY.  I could go on and on but I won't.  Here are a couple thoughts I have starting with the least "sinky" to full on sink.

When I have a BIG foam bug that is skipping and not giving me the KER-PLUNK I need, I use a short 4’ clear intermediate poly leader that pulls the fly down just a bit on the strip.  Crazy talk you say?  It gets worse.  The bigger the fly (still talking top water) the more sink I add, when I fish a big Montauk Monster or a Banger I use a faster sink tip which when stripped pulls that big spun deer hair or plug just below the surface creating all kinds of  “COME AND GET ME” commotion.

Now that I’m done with the craziness of using sinking tips with floating flies lets talk real quickly about true sinking lines.  My favorite is the Depth Finder by AirFlo.  I love the 175gr on my Helios 10' 7wt.  (I like crazy fast rods with sinkers.)  With a 23' head that sinks in a uniform manner you can get an unweighted crawfish pattern down to where the fish are.  I’ve heard all kinds of opinions on leader length while using this method and I’m not going to jump in.  I will say that straight Flouro less than 14lb test is what I use.   You're going to foul and if you’re breaking off less than 14lb test you're not likely damaging the core of your fly line.  A rumor that I will happily chime in on is that lines like this cast “clunky" and “poorly.”  I disagree.  As I said above, a floating line and weighted fly, in my opinion, is the clunky presentation.  With a density compensated line you still get loops and proper turn over because, again, your casting the line with non-weighted fly.

I’ll end with this.  As fellow AWG Guide JD points out "we all can learn a lot from the Bass Masters on a Sunday morning" (that’s tough to swallow).  He’s absolutely 100% correct though.  Those boys catch fish and I don’t see them using Hula Poppers!  They go to where the fish are and most of the time that’s deeper in the water column.  So enjoy the Summer!  Fish those poppers knowing that at any second its gonna get crushed but if ya need a little help with the "come get me," try an intermediate leader with it.  I can also say that having a sinking rod rigged and ready for those deeper spots won't hurt.  Just dont tell anyone.

Enjoy and see you on the water.

Winston

Capt Steve Hollensed teaching the dark arts

Rigging the Perfect Jet Boat

As anglers, we all have much to learn from the squirrel who collects nuts all summer and fall in preparation for a long winter. Few guides I know have the luxury of taking time off when not guiding. There is always work to be done, but let’s face it, it's all pretty rewarding work. Task often include: patching waders, patching rafts, tying flies, replacing fly line, and working on outboards to name a few. However, there is one task above all that guides love more than any other and that is rigging out a boat.

Well, much like the squirel I spent the better part of two months in between work and family preparing for spring and summer bass fishing. Most of this time was dedicated rigging my 17ft Weldbilt aluminum boat — http://www.backwoodslanding.com — custom designed for a jet drive outboard. No matter what, every guide has his own special way of rigging boats and this was no different. First, it started with trying to make the boat more accommodating for my anglers, which meant adding comfortable seats, leaning bars, padded floor mats, and a new 45QT Yeti cooler to keep everything cool. Next, I added high quality fly rod holders to keep rods safe, a beefy Dierks anchor system, NRS oar locks, and custom Sawyer oars.

Finally, it was time to service my reliable Yamaha 40/30 hp jet drive outboard_she old but she is lightweight and reliable. With a tune-up, new water pump, thermostat, and impeller she is running like a scolded demon—whatever that means. Yep, a guide's boat is part office, part transportation, and part mistress, which means we spend a lot of time with them and we rely on them.

The boat could not have turned out any better—give All Water Guides a call and see the rig in person while catching and releasing trophy river bass on the fly!

Jeff's_rig.png

Hooked on Catch & Release

It’s that time of the year—Spring Break—kids are out of school and we are headed to Port Oconner for some family fishing on the coast. This time of year is always special because trophy sow trout are on my mind. I’m always trying to beat my best speck a 29-incher caught and released back in 2001. Been to long!

Today I pulled out all my tried-and-true topwater plugs for their annual tune-up—new hooks and split-rings. We all know the importance of sharp hooks and rust-free hooks but what about the importance of replacing nasty treble hooks with single hooks. Several years ago a small population coastal anglers and guides started making the switch to single hooks realizing the damage treble hooks were doing to trophy trout about to be released. Let’s face it, releasing a trout with treble hook injuries will greatly reduce that fish’s survivability no matter how much care is taken to revive it.

Yes, I do miss a few more trout using single hooks but it’s worth it to me as a catch and release angler. Usually, missing a fish will make me work harder and appreciate those trout that do make it to the net. Releasing a healthy trout back into the water in good condition merits a few missed fish.

Enjoy the time off with family and friends, safe travels and happy catching (and releasing).

Before and after, top plug has the old treble hooks, six total points to penetrate the fish, as opposed to the bottom plug which has converted to single hooks.

Selection of topwater plugs with a proven track record over the years. About to updated with new single hooks.

FISHING CRAWFISH PATTERNS

As fly anglers we can learn a lot from our bait-castering brethren when it comes to catching bass in early Spring. Fly selection based on crawfish patterns is a must for enticing bass to eat in cold water conditions. Up to 50% of a bass Winter/Spring diet comes from crawfish.

Crawfish patterns fished deep and slow while casting into weeds, brush and heavy cover requires weighted patterns with weed guards. Additionally, the position of the weight (lead eyes, lead wire) is crucial to the "action" of the pattern selected. All of the All Water guides prefer crawfish patterns in red and orange as we seem to see a lot of fish that puke-up real crawfish with this same coloration.

Here is a good article by outdoor writer Gene Mueller on this subject. Remember what works for the pros is alway worth trying for any angler no matter what their skill level. Enjoy the read and happy Spring bassin'!

http://www.genemuellerfishing.com/2011/01/creature-baits-are-all-rage-for-bass.html