Monday, April 30, 2012

Smallies and a few flies

It is that time of year that the smaillies are on the pre-spawn feed so I made sure to get out last week and take advantage of that! Pretty much anything black or olive that is put in front of a fish will get attacked. The cold front that came through mid-week did make things a little tougher but there were still some players around.

I had recieved a call that a Canadian client, Galina, would be in town for a conference and was looking to get out on the water while she was stateside. Seemed like a great excuse to get away from the vise so we set it up to hit a local watershed for a few hours in the evening towards the end of the week. Galina has only been fly casting for a few weeks so when we hit the river there was a little instruction on how to deal with the current and avoid trees, then she got after it. By the end of the evening she was laying out 40-50 foot casts like she has been doing this for years!

It did not take long and she was in to her first smallmouth bass on a fly. Admittedly it was not a bruiser, but I think the smile says it all. Congratulations Galina!

She did get in to a nicer fish as well. It was a great evening for me to be out and wet a line with a new friend; certainly looking forward to next time.

It has continued to be a busy time at the vise. I am cranking hard to get everything knocked out before I head south. I am struggling to keep my focus as I head to Florida on the 11th for a few weeks tying oceanside and chasing redfish around in my kayak! Here are a few shots of flies that have gone out in the last few days.

I am looking forward to catching up with all my friends and clients that were on the water in Michigan for the opener last weekend. Once I do I will try to get a few shots up of the festivities.

-mike schmidt

Monday, April 23, 2012

Castapalooza 2012

Over the weekend I headed north towards Erie to take part in the third annual Castapalooza. The event was held at Hidden Valley Metropark on the Grand River and looks to put rods in the hands of casters to give them a cast. While there were some single handed rods cast the focus seemed to be on spey and switch casting. Between Jerry Darkes and Jeff Liskay there were 3WT rods through 12WT rods, and pretty much every line from Scientific Angler to line them up with.

My small part in the event was to demo tie some swinging flies. I must say that at 38 degrees and raining it was likely among the most harsh conditions under which I have spent time at the vise. Throughout the day I tied up flies and wandered on down to the water to cast a few rods.

Down along the river there was plenty of space to cast despite the extremely low water.

Following the event I headed in to Pennsylvania to relax waterside for an evening before heading home. It was great to be able to recharge a bit and walk around with a 2WT at the ready.

Here are a few flies that went out over the week to chase some fish.

-mike schmidt

Monday, April 16, 2012

Striped Shiner, and other junk...

After spending a significant portion of the week at the vise I needed to get out and take a short break on Sunday to see about a fish. I knew there was a local river that was fishing good for smallies, but rather than spend an hour round trip on the road I decided to hit a closer watershed since I only had about two hours to spare. Nate came along with me and we found the smallie fishing awfully tough...likely a few weeks out still. Lucky for us there were caddis and Hennys coming off very regularly....and something was aggressively rising and taking the caddis. Never one to pass up an opportunity we clipped off the streamers, retied the leader, and rigged up a caddis dry with a beadhead dropper. A few casts in we landed to first of a handful of this prehistoric looking fish, the Striped Shiners! (Corrected per the below from JRenner, they were in fact not Hornyhead Chubs.

Until I saw the head I thought they were common creek chubs or maybe baby mirror carp, but the spikes around the top of the head gave them away. Evidently they are native to a few slow moving, small to mid-sized rivers with gravel and sand bottoms. I had seen them before and caught a few by accident, but never by intentionally casting dry flies to them. It was pretty cool!

I did get one little smallie to play nice. I will be back in a few weeks and expect to have a bit more action.

Early on in the week I knocked out eight dozen Shelbyville Specials. It is a neat little streamer that always seems to find fish.

Also knocked out some Red Rockets and Smoke Wagons to send east.

and what week is complete without spending some time tying Double Decievers...

Earlier in the week I got an email from Tyler Brown with a few pictures of a recent brown he brought to hand on a Mufasa. Great fish Tyler!

Also heard from good ACF friend, Mariano, down in Costa Rica. He made it out last week for some time chasing Machaca and connected with a few. The Machaca is reputed as one of the hardest pulling fish pound for pound and has a vicious take. They also feed at or near the surfcae so it is a very visual game...great fish on a fly!

Not one that you want to lip though...

-mike schmidt

Friday, April 13, 2012

Castapalooza 2012

Though I may sneak away for an hour or two to see if the smallies are awake here in central Ohio, I will be spending most of my time in the ACF Beat Lab cranking out fly orders. It is a necessary evil as I have to get ahead a bit so I can enjoy hanging out at Castapalooza next Saturday! Castapalooza 2012 will be held on the Grand River at Lake Metroparks Hidden Valley Reservation in Madison Ohio. There will be casting demonstration and assistance, rods and lines to be tried out, and I will be spinning up some nasty bugs. Come on out to try out a few new rigs and learn some tricks from some world class casters. Hope to see some of you there.

-mike schmidt

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter weekend on the AuSable

Ahh yes...the beautiful northwoods of Michigan; great place to spend a weekend. Before I realized that it was Easter weekend I scheduled a trip up to hit the AuSable for a couple of days and see if I could find some fish willing to play. Friday morning I got up with the wife and, as she headed to work, I hit the road. It was a gorgeous sunny day for a drive and the time passed easily as I went from Ohio farm, to Toledo, through lower Michigan farm/flatland, and finally to where 75 splits and the north woods start.

I got there in time to stop in at Old Au Sable Flyshop to say hey and then headed over to Gates as well. After a few words I headed off to hit the water and relax. I decided to hit Thendara and luckily found only one car there as I arrived. There were Hennies and some caddis around so I strung up a dry/dropper rig and headed upstream.

About ninety minutes into the two and a half hours I was out I saw my first rising fish. It was of course in one of those near impossible spots...about a two foot square piece of water guarded by overhanging trees, a side sweeper in front, and stump above. I took a minute to try and figure out how to get a cast in there and settled on a very awkward roll cast. Lucky for me it was a none-to-bright brookie and, on my third attempt, it came up and splashily took to dry which was definitely not at a dead drift. My first of the season on the dry! I did not really intend to get out like this so the only net in my car had holes much larger than this fish so I had left it and was netless. Landing the pretty little guys was not a problem, but keeping him around for a quick picture was not in the cards.

I did manage one more really little guy, this one on the dropper, before getting out for the day. That first rising fish ended up being the only one that I saw, but that was all it took. I celebrated by heading up to Spikes and rocking down 17 fillets of all you can eat Alaskan was glorious.

On Saturday morning I woke up early and had breakfast then took the day and hung around Old Au Sable Fly Shop waiting for the water temperature to recover after the nights low of 17 degrees. The longer I stuck around the more sunny it got, but did not really have a choice...wasn't about to travel that far and not go out! Around noon Alex Lafkas dropped in to pick up fellow guide Justin and myself, and we were off to the river. I turned the first fish not too far in to the float, seemed to be a solid five inches wide at the shoulder, but it was Alex that had the hot hand on the day. Seemed the fish were looking for more of a vertical jig style retrieve and he had that down pat. Really dug the big dark spots on this one.

Towards the very end of our float he bagged this respectable fish with a chunk of it's tail having been removed by something.

As the float wound down I was thinking back on a great day on the water with the guys, despite the glaring sun, and realizing that I had another to go yet!

For Easter Sunday I met up with brothers Erik and Adam Peterson from Streamside Custom Rod and Guide Service. We met up not long after first light for a long float. Lucky for us there were a few clouds around for at least some of the day and we had the river all to ourselves. I started off the action about an hour in with this guy that made a meal of a big nasty fly.

As we moved the fly selection was pondered over and decisions made as to what would be thrown next.

Each fish I found throughout the day was in a classic holding spot; right off the back some sort of cover and coming out of deeper water to ambush the fly as it came out of shallower water. They were all about yellow swum flies this day.

That is an eight inch fly in it's mouth still... Not a whole lot more than twice the size of the fly this fish hit like a freight train and almost got back in the wood before I put the brakes on him.

Great color and shape!

Erik got in on the act with a very solid fish at the 20 mark. This fish also had a ferocious take right off some wood and it was game on.

I really dig the camo body, long jaw, shoulders, and wide tail on this guy. These fish are made for attack and kill!

Had the camera in the case so since the sun was high and the water cold and clear we took advantage of it and got a few underwater shots. I have to tell you that these half and half shots are not easy to line up blind...really wish that the housing would allow for a fisheye lens!

The aftermath.... That fish absolutely crushed this fly at top speed and went straight in to a hard roll, there was no way his prey was getting away. Once the hook was set it was hell bent on escape. We did get him to hand but he made sure we would not be using that fly again!

Looking forward to the next time I can get up there...can never spend enough time on that wonderful river. Next time up will surely involve camping to go along with the fishing!

-mike schmidt

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

ACF Weekend Workshop

Took a break from orders over the weekend and ran a streamer workshop at my house. I had Jim and Dave come over from New York and Dallas come down from Michigan to see how many patterns we could get through...and how much fun we could have doing it. We got set up at the kitchen table and jumped right in.

Jim was all about getting a good collection of big flies ready to chase fish. He has been bit by the streamer bug bad and was able to add quite a few to his box.

Dallas left straight from work and drove through the night to make it. He has tied a few flies with me before but this was the most time we have spent at a vise. Had a great time BSing with the guys and knocking out patterns.

With the lack of sleep and a few beers it did get a little weird at times...

Overall we ended up knocking out nine big articulated streamers and three flies for swinging. I had a great time with the guys and am looking forward to the next time we can get together.

-mike schmidt