Archive | 2009

Just One More Whitefish This Year Please

December 26, 2009

Normally, if you suggested floating the South Fork of the Snake River between Christmas and New Years I would respond with, “Ha! No thanks! Snow and ice covered boat ramps, brutal cold, no fun and no way.” I can’t stand when my guides freeze up every cast. However, when friend Rob Parkins, a well know fishing guide and fly tier here in Teton Valley, asked that I join he and another friend , Zack Dalton, of Rio Fly Lines, to fish the day after Christmas, I surprised myself when I answered cautiously, “Maybe.”

Robs offer to me came about a week or so ago. I said if it wasn’t unbearably cold I’d be interested. Assuming that it would be, I never gave much thought to the idea again. But on Christmas Eve Rob was visiting the house and was quick to let me know he and Zack were still going. Since my hunt to Minnesota and Iowa two weeks ago, I’ve spent most my time hunched over art projects waiting for a new excuse to get outdoors. I knew by now that temperatures for the day after Christmas were predicted to be about 12 degrees Fahrenheit along with sunny skies. Surprising to most, 12 degrees isn’t too bad around here as it’s generally a dry cold and with sunshine feels considerably warmer. With all that in mind, my response was, “I’m in.”

Despite being 5 below zero when I woke up this morning, Rob picked me up at 10am and one could already feel the suns warmth. When we met Zack who was arriving from Idaho Falls at the icy boat ramp at the Palisades Dam, it was already about 10 degrees and continuing to rise. While they did our short shuttle, Dam to Husky, I rigged my 6-weight Ross with 10 feet of straight 0X Rio Flouroflex Plus tippet and attached two flies. Usually my streamer rig is about 18 feet of 0X (Shockingly long to most), however, knowing my fly rod guides were going to freeze, the shorter leader would be easier to handle. When the boys returned I offered to row the drift boat across the river to so they could nymph below the dam.

There are huge rainbows and cutthroats taken with regularity directly below the dam on nymphs. If your wondering why I rigged up a streamer it’s because I’m not a big nympher. Despite many years of competing internationally and applying European nymphing tactics to my daily fishing, it’s not my favorite method. My heart is really in dry fly fishing and I’m known to enjoy chucking streamers. I knew Rob and Zack would cover the water well without my help and until it warmed up I’d be content popping some photos and giving moral support.

Fishing was slower than expected. Although Zack nailed a fantastic rainbow on his first drift with a mysis shrimp, they caught only one other trout and a handful of whitefish. Rather than waste a day there we floated down to another favorite run. I struggled to get more than three casts in a row without having to crack ice out of my guides during the drift. That diminished my fly in the water time and I realized my highlight of the day was going to be lunch.

Rob took charge of lunch putting four huge elk burger patties on the boat size charcoal grill. Both Zack and I felt as though we were on a guided trip and indulged on the delicious lunch. Between eating and cooking, they nymphed the run and I dredged, slowly stripping my two streamers. Zack landed a beautiful cutty but then followed with a hand full of whiteys along with Rob and me.

We floated the rest of the short float in an hour hap-hazardly fishing as we drifted along. I avoided a skunk by landing two nice rainbows and Rob nymphed up a good brown and a “mighty whitey”. While spending much of December working on art projects, preparing for the show circuit and gorging around the Holliday table, it was great to hit the river again. The thought of floating the last week of December will never again be considered a “not a chance” deal. In fact, I’ll just bet there will be another fishing report posted here shortly!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Blizzards, Beer and a Pheasant

Usually you expect a fishing report from this blog, however, this weekend I found myself in South Eastern Iowa on a pheasant hunting trip. It was a get together with some of my old college buddies from Northland College in Ashland, WI. We studied together there over twenty years ago! Remarkably, we continue to stay in touch like family and do some really fun trips together.

Although this particular trip has been an annual for over a decade, I’ve never been able to go because it occurs in December. Getting time off from the old retail job during Christmas season was next to impossible. But now with my new career, I gave myself the time off and don’t plan to miss such excursions ever again.

There were eight of us total. We expected more, but the blizzard that ripped through the heartland last week put a damper on some schedules. I lucked out by flying into Minneapolis Thursday night just scathing the huge storm. A couple of the fellas are from MN and asked me to co-pilot their road journey to IA. It was a great idea as we got extra time to catch up and I got to see some country that I rarely get to see.

Our precise destination was Marion, IA at our colleague Mike Birmingham’s family farm. It’s a gorgeous estate where he has turned the farms corn crib into his house. It overlooks the property and at any given moment you could watch whitetails feeding on the edge of the oak forest or pheasants in the snow covered corn fields.

Birmingham greeted us in his driveway with open beers. He was quick to inform us, we’d be drinking quite a few of these because pheasant populations were horrible from consecutive harsh winters and serious floods from last spring. This wasn’t bad news to us for the true meaning of the visit was to catch up with old friends. Two of the gang had been hunting the farm for two days and literally saw one bird. That was enough for me to not even pick up a gun (I’m not a serious hunter or a good one) and let the others get their best shot.

That proved to be a wise decision. Despite spending Saturday on another private farm, only a pheasant and a rabbit were taken amongst the crew all weekend. While most the boys spent their time carrying shotguns and running the dogs, I enjoyed a snowy walk through the oak forests where I jumped the occasional whitetail deer.

Today I’m travelling home and as one can imagine after a weekend of post-holing through deep snow and late evenings with old friends, I’m flat out exhausted. It was a great four days and I look forward to our next get-together. From what I hear, it’s warmed up in ID and I just may sneak over to the South Fork on foot for a couple hours this week to fish some midges. Stay tuned. . .

More Art, Less Fishing and Moose

December 5, 2009

There isn’t much snow on the ground here in Victor, Idaho, but the winter temperatures have arrived. It’s seriously cold and with the exception of a run or a hike I’ve been inside working on various art projects. It’s the exact weather needed to get me off the rivers and on to my work. Most of the artwork I’ve been doing is filling orders for Christmas. These include watercolors of cutthroats, brown trout, rainbow trout and even a muskellunge to name a few. It’s been great fun working at home for myself.

It would be a lie if I claimed I could go a whole week without fishing. And sure enough, a trip to Jackson Hole for a few hours of errands today turned into a quick jaunt up to the Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park. Although most of the Park is closed to driving during the winter, the road to Moran Junction and to Jackson Lake remains open. From the dam runs the Snake River. Because the water running through the dam comes from the bottom of Jackson Lake, it’s warm enough that it doesn’t freeze. The warmth attracts baitfish such as Utah Chubs and whitefish that in turn bring in the predatory Snake River Cutthroats and brown trout. The dam turbines also blow through some lake trout from Jackson Lake itself. If you can stand the brutal temperatures, you often catch numerous fish until you’re so cold you can’t move.

Today such fishing was not the case. I fished with my friend Mark Kuhn, better known as “Milkfish” and between the both of us managed only two fish. I caught a brown and a laker. It was a surprise to do so poorly, but perhaps the fish were a little “doggy” because it was literally only five degrees.

Two nice fish certainly doesn’t call for a bad day, however, due to the slow fishing and severe chilly conditions, we opted to head home early to perhaps see some wildlife. Sure enough, our drive hardly let us down. We saw a coyote, hundreds of buffalo, elk, and best of all, several rutting bull moose. One of the bulls was quite large and I managed a few photos. Unfortunately, all I had was my point and shoot Canon so the photo you see is the best I could get. Hopefully in a few days I’ll round up a shot from Milkfish who had a nice camera and a zoom lens.

Global Fly Fishing web site

I Love My New Boss!

On October 25, 2009 I became self employed. All I can say is, “I like my new boss”.

This has been one of the fishiest November’s of my life!

From Baja to Idaho – here’s a few photos to remember from this great fishing month!

Baldies, Beaves and More Good Fish

November 27, 2009

This is insane! A week ago winter set in but yet again disappeared. We floated the South Fork in Swan Valley Idaho once more and didn’t get even a flake of ice in the fly rod guides. Float fishing and ice-less stripping guides should have been a thing of the past three weeks ago, but our season keeps going and going and going . . .

The weather was mostly cloudy with temps reaching about 42 degrees. There wasn’t a breath of wind and when the sun occasionally broke through it felt like 50. You wouldn’t expect a better day in early October.

I fished with Tom Montgomery, whom I introduced in my November 24th report. We expected a third to join us, Andy Asadorian, but not only did Andy not show up but we didn’t even hear from him. A little weird but it’s a fact. And when a fishing partner drops out at the last minute, fishing is always good. Today was no exception.

Despite a late start of noon, Tom and I agreed upon a goal of twenty fish to the boat. That was a bit eager, and although that didn’t quite happen, we managed fifteen. We floated from Husky, also known as Palisades Creek launch to the highway bridge. This is about a nine mile float and with dark setting in by 5pm these days there’s no time for stopping. This meant a constant drift with the most effective method of fishing, stripping streamers. I used my usual rig of several streamers on straight 0X Rio Flouro-Flex Plus tippet. Normally my best streamer color on the South Fork is olive, but today the black and silver screamer streamer knocked them dead. It was an even mix of rainbows, browns and cutthroat. Although we caught at least one quality fish of each specie, our nicest fish was a cutthroat. What was amazing about this cutthroat (in photo), while I was fighting him he spit up an 8” white fish! Impressive!

Fishing was so good today I forgot to mention the wildlife. November on the South Fork never disappoints. I’ll guess we saw hundreds of ducks and swans, at least five bald eagles, a family of beavers and a whitetail.

That’s about enough for now. Supposedly it’s going to snow and get nasty tonight, but with all this talk I’m going back to the SF tomorrow!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Thunnus Albacares aka Yellowfin Tuna, Aint No Chicken of the Sea

November 24, 2009

Winter is finally here and my days on the water will be fewer. In a way it’s a good thing because it will keep me indoors and perhaps I will get some work done. For those unaware, I worked at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, Wyoming for over twenty-three years! In August I gave my resignation and October 25, 2009 was my last day. From here on out I pay the bills solely working for myself.

My new career will continue in the fly fishing business. For years I have spent much of my time on the road speaking at fly fishing clubs and sport shows. In 2010 I will do even more of this. I am also an artist and will follow my dream of making this a major part of my career. I sell my work on my website and through the Wyoming Gallery in Jackson, WY. With my new free time I plan to become a better artist, explore more mediums, exhibit at art shows and expand into more galleries.

Although I won’t be fishing as much for the next couple months, I expect to get out at least once a week and report about each wintry adventure. I will also report on my progress with the new career beginning today. I just completed my first painting of a yellowfin tuna. This is a Christmas present so I won’t give too many details other than it was caught on a fly rod. I can tell you from experience, tuna, specifically yellowfin tuna, are the hardest fighting fish in the world!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Fishing With the Gurus

November 20, 2009

It’s possible this was the last day of float fishing for 2009. For when we hit the boat takeout at dark this evening, we felt the temperature plummeting and smelled snow in the air. Winter may finally be arriving.

This was a special day on the water for more reasons than the fact that it could be the last this year. I was fishing with two close friends and long time guides of Jackson Hole Wyoming, Paul Bruun and Tom Montgomery. Both men descended on the Jackson Hole guide scene in the 70’s and to this day are considered the best in the business. Furthermore, Tom is a professional photographer whose photos grace the covers and pages of magazines and catalogs. Paul is a well known sports writer for our local paper and writes for various national magazines. I’m proud to say, Paul even wrote the foreword to my first book, “Currier’s Quick and Easy Guide to Saltwater Fly Fishing”. Fortunately for me, both my older friends took me under their wing back in the 80’s when I arrived on the Jackson Hole scene and have shared knowledge and friendships ever since. I have been very lucky to have such mentors!

Tom has been sick as a dog for a week. Today was his first day out of the house so we took it easy on him with a casual start of about noon. We went to my November favorite, the South Fork, the river I’ve been reporting on this blog just about daily. Temps weren’t bad, about 45 degrees, but the wind was awful. It was blowing steady at about 20mph with gust recorded up to 40mph. Sounds like a rough day to cast, but just imagine rowing in it!

Nevertheless, veterans like us are fearless and after a shaky launch at the Irwin Slide we were on our way. Although there were fish rising in slicks between whitecaps, this was a streamer day and with Tom on the oars Paul and I were launching heavy bugs into the wind in no time. I was tossing streamers on my 6-weight Ross fly rod. However, had I known when leaving the house that it would be this windy I’d of stepped up to a 7-weight. Just a little extra backbone for this kind of wind would have been nice. But without the option, I simply shortened my leader and went for it.

It turns out, today was the slowest day of fishing I’ve experienced this week. Between the three of us, we caught a total of about ten fish. However, slow as it may have been, this was truly another bonus fishing day. I need to keep pinching myself – THIS IS LATE NOVEMBER!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

No Ice In the Guides and It’s November?

November 18, 2009

As long as the temps stay warm enough that the guides don’t freeze, expect continuous reports. Today I headed back out with Ed and Lucas and did what should be impossible in mid November; we floated nearly the entire canyon of the South Fork of the Snake. We shortened the normally twenty-six mile float about five miles by pulling out at  Wolf Creek. I often do twenty mile floats in July during the longest days of the year when flows are high, but to do it during these short days of November in low water conditions is unheard of. We put on the water in freezing cold temps at sunrise and got off in freezing cold temps well after sunset. Luckily, in between we had a sunny day with temps reaching a high of about 45 degrees and the fishing was excellent!

Although there were plenty of rising fish eating blue wing olives and midges, this was a full day of chuck-and-duck streamer fishing. With lots of miles to cover, we did not have time to stop and work rising fish. Such a shame as we could have absolutely hammered the fish dry fly fishing. One thing I have learned over the years is that just before winter truly sets in, the trout around here gorge themselves every chance they get. Unless a major cold front or snowstorm sets in, November is a superb month for anyone who loves to fish small dries to quality trout. The action may only last a few hours in the afternoon, but it is non stop. You can get all sophisticated with your dry flies if you like, but the fact is that these fish are trying to put on weight for challenging winter conditions. I can see a size 18 Parachute Adams on the water easily so that’s about the only pattern I mess with. The normally selective trout eat the fly like it’s going out of style!

Plunking streamers on the heads of risers would normally be a sin, but yesterday as we covered water fast, this is exactly what we did. Sure, many of the trout ran for their life, but the big boys often came for a look and many got caught. The action was steady all day however, particularly good early and late. Many people think the water needs to warm up but today was not the case. All in all I believe we landed about thirty fish consisting of mostly cutthroats with a spattering of browns and rainbows.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Nunya – Creek

November 17, 2009

There will be many days on this blog where you will not be informed of the location where the story took place. Sorry folks, but that’s the way the real anglers work and today is one of those days. Even though fishing wasn’t that great, I still can’t tell you where I was.

I fished with friends Ed and Lucas. They picked me up at my house about 8:30am and we headed on out. Later we were doing what I do a lot lately, chucking streamers. On this river, because of its size, I tossed only two flies and on a shorter than normal leader. My usual streamer leader is a 15-20ft long piece of 0X Rio Fluoro-Flex Plus tippet material. To most streamer fishers this sounds absurd because they use short stout tapered leaders. Short and stout makes sense for turning over big flies. I used such a formula for years. But trust me; fish the long 0X leader for a couple trips and you will be amazed! Once you develop the casting stroke it turns over just fine. It also sinks efficiently and helps give you direct contact from you to the fly. You rarely miss a strike. And to top it off, 0x Rio Fluoro-Flex Plus is 14lb test so you can land a big fish fast or rip down a tree branch when you miss that target!

All that talk and unfortunately I must tell you again, fishing was slow. In total we landed seven fish. Four of the fish were decent with one large brown of about 20-inches. It was a gorgeous fish that Lucas caught while dredging a deep pool. One of today’s highlights was a moose that was very annoyed to see anglers floating this late in the season. With her ears back, she stood her ground as we drifted on by.

Global Fly Fishing

Aint No Lakers Here

November 10, 2009

Fishing wasn’t too great today. I took my webmaster, Ken Holder, down the South Fork. Ken works for United Airlines and is based out of the San Francisco area. He has a home in Jackson and gets out to this area about five times a year. He and I have been busting our butts on my website a few hours a day since Sunday so it’s time for a break. I never like to leave an empty seat in the boat so my friend Rob Parkins from Victor came along with us and took the backseat.

You couldn’t ask for nicer weather for mid November. It reached a high of about 45, there was no wind and it was partly sunny. Perhaps that’s why fishing wasn’t as good as yesterday, and remember, we didn’t try too hard yesterday but still caught fish.

The first run from the Husky boat ramp to the rapid was nearly dead. I always boat a few fish here. In fact, yesterday we caught five fish in this run. However, today the one fish we did catch was unique for this river – a lake trout. Yes a lake trout! In all my years on the South Fork that was only the second one I’ve seen there.

This was my treat to Ken for all his hard work on my website so I chose to row most of the day. Although Rob would have been happy to share the rowing duty, I only had him relieve me for about an hour towards the end. All I wanted was few casts and a fish. Overall we landed about eight fish. Seven of them were cutthroat and one rainbow.

Despite the slow fishing it was a great day to get out. Any day your guides don’t freeze in November is a treat. Our days are numbered now as we all know the ground will soon be snow covered, high temps will be below freezing and the rivers will be close to frozen.