Archive | September, 2017

The Fall Equinox Storm Arrives Early

We’ve had eight days of colder than normal September temperatures with a solid dose of precipitation mixed of rain and snow.  I refer to it as the fall Equinox storm.  It’s a good thing for Idaho.  You can never get too much moisture.  Bad weather also gives me a window to catch up on my office work.


Office work for me ranges from organizing my 2018 speaking tour (travel logistics and scheduling is a challenge), catching up on writing projects and also doing what I enjoy most, painting fish.  After the day on the Yellowstone River I was inspired to paint this rising Yellowstone cutthroat.  This is a 7” x 9” watercolor with pen and ink that I’ve already taken to the framer.  Unless it sells beforehand, it will be some nice decoration for my booth when the 2018 show season kicks off.


I also completed a larger painting (14” x 20”) of a Snake River Cutthroat.  This one is a commissioned piece for angler Ted Jablonski of California.  Ted placed his order in July right after he caught it on his visit out this way.  I don’t paint much in summer so I promised it to him by October.  Thanks goodness for this bad weather!


Our weather is forecasted to be crappy through the week.  I have plenty more to do so no problem with me.  I won’t be fishing much next week either however because Granny and I have massive plans.


On Wrigley Field 2006!

As most of you know, I am a die-hard Chicago Cub fan.  This season has been stressful but the last two weeks have been fantastic to watch.  The Cubs are hanging in there.  Granny and I are heading to Busch Stadium in St. Louis to catch the Cubs against the Cardinals in an epic battle to make the playoffs.  The last time I went to a game of this caliber was with my dad at Fenway Park in October 1975.  Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant faced Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer in an epic pitching duel.  The Sox won 2-0 thanks to Carlton Fisk and Rico Petrocelli homeruns.  They went on to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.  Hands down, that game experience, at such a young age, made me a baseball fan for life!


I love this time of year!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing the Yellowstone River in YNP

It’s been more than twenty years since I caught much on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.  That’s since the 1990’s when the Park declared war on lake trout in Yellowstone Lake.  The very lake trout the Park is accused of stocking in the late 1800’s and 1920’s.


I’m the first to agree that non-natives shouldn’t be where they don’t belong.  But if they’ve been there for more than two generations and the ecosystem is ok – leave it be.  Nearby Heart Lake has lake trout and cutthroats living in harmony.  Fifteen miles away on Lewis Lake, brown trout and lake trout thrive and just south in Grand Teton National Park all the lakes have lake trout and cutthroat trout living together.


The first time I fished the Yellowstone River was 1982 at Buffalo Ford (now called Nez Perce).  There were thousands of huge Yellowstone cutthroats swimming by my feet.  I went on to fish the Yellowstone River hundreds of times and the fishing remained incredible until the mid-1990’s.  That’s when the Park began gillnetting and poisoning Yellowstone Lake in an attempt to kill the lake trout.


I’m not much to criticize but attempting to eradicate a certain species of fish from the depths of a massive lake the size of Yellowstone Lake with gillnets and poison in one of our most loved National Parks – not cool.  One can only imagine how many Yellowstone cutthroats, birds, mammals and amphibians were affected and killed as well.


Since the fishing on the Yellowstone River declined I return every few years hoping to find the beautiful river back to the way I once knew it.  So far I haven’t been so lucky.  It’s been so disappointing that getting Granny to load the Explorer with me early this morning for yet another trip to Yellowstone was nearly impossible.  Fortunately she accompanied me but she brought a book instead of her waders.


We arrived at Nez Perce on the Yellowstone at 11 AM.  Without my rod I walked the bank with my polarized glasses scanning for fish.  Seriously, twenty years ago you’d of seen hundreds but today it took me about a half hour to find one.  But I found one.


It turned out to be a large Yellowstone Cutthroat.  I grabbed my Winston Boron III 5-weight and tied on an October caddis pattern.  To my surprise on my first cast the fish left his lie and swam ten feet and devoured the fly.


Cutthroats in general get a bad rap when it comes to their fight.  Yellowstone cutthroats however in this ice cold water can put on a show.  Add in the size of these beauties and on a 4- or a 5-weight they can be a handful.  Soon I landed my first big Yellowstone cutthroat in years.


The cutties were by no means abundant.  I walked further upstream and saw not a fish nor a rise.  We hopped in the car and drove upstream towards LeHardy’s Rapids.  Here there were at least twenty cutthroats scattered over a 100 yard stretch.  Still nothing like old times but they were here.


These fish weren’t as cooperative as the one that took the caddis downstream.  For this next one I returned to the car for my new 4-weight Winston Air.  Then I must have changed flies six times and also dropped my tippet to 5X.  Finally I fooled my second big cutthroat on a beetle pattern that I acquired for yellowfishing on Sterkfontein Dam in South Africa a few falls ago.  When fish get selective don’t be hesitant to toss a fly at them they’ve never seen!


I went on to catch three nice Yellowstone cutthroats before we headed out in late afternoon.  Though the fishing was no means spectacular like I enjoyed as a kid, it was better than I’ve experienced in twenty years.  We can only hope that these amazing native Yellowstone trout are on their way back.


I hate to end on a downer but while on the Yellowstone River I chatted with another angler who like me, hates the idea of Yellowstone Park netting and poisoning our waters.  He informed me that two of my old favorite haunts, Grebe Lake for grayling and the Upper Gibbon River are now being aggressively poisoned to kill rainbow trout and grayling.  I’m sad to say it’s true.  What’s next Yellowstone?


I’m skeptical of killing a healthy trout fishery under any circumstance.  Especially ones I, and many of us have cherished all of our lives!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

The Jackson Hole One Fly 2017

I got a call from Simms back in April asking if I would fish on their Jackson Hole One Fly Team.  At the time I expected to be tarpon fishing in the Congo and had to turn it down.  When denied our permits and VISA’s for the Congo a month ago I checked in with Simms to see if they fielded their team.  Lucky for me, they still had a spot.


I haven’t fished the Jackson Hole One Fly since 2014.  I miss fishing the event.  It’s a chance to be a part of generous group.  The One Fly raises a significant amount of funds and donates to river improvements nationwide.  Organizations like American Rivers and Trout Unlimited send teams as well and have fund raising events over the weekend.  It’s also a time to see and hang with old friends.


The One Fly consists of 40 four person teams for a total of 160 individual contestants – that’s a lot!  It’s a two day contest.  Each contestant is allowed to fish one fly (not one pattern but ONE FLY) each day.  You lose it and you’re done.  Every fish caught is worth two points and you can measure eight fish over 12” for bonus points.  (E.g. a 12” fish is worth 10 points while a 18” fish is worth 100 points).  It’s a challenging tournament that annually humbles top anglers.


The contest takes place on the Snake River through Jackson Hole in Wyoming and the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho.  These are broken down into stretches and you fish from the drift boat.  Basically, you get in a boat with a guide and a contestant from another team and go head to head.


Stretches are drawn randomly.  Ideally you want to draw a section of the Snake in Grand Teton National Park.  The Park fishes far better than the sections of the Snake south of Jackson.  The South Fork stretches are fairly even.


While most of Team Simms drew well, Saturday I got the most challenging section of the Snake, South Park to Prichard.  Regulations on this stretch allow two cutthroats of any size to be harvested throughout the summer.  It’s a ridiculous regulation in this day and age but true and unfortunately the stretch suffers.  By September it’s a tough place to find fish over 12”.


Lucky for me the scoring also gives bonuses for the number of fish caught.  Catch 30 and receive 50 bonus points.  Catch 40 and get another 50.  Catch 50 fish and get another 50 points for a total of 150 bonus points.  So it breaks down like this – 50 fish at two points each is 100 points.  Add on the bonus 150 and you have a total of 250 points for catching 50 fish.  Not bad really and a great way to salvage the tough stretch.


The challenge is however, catching 50 fish.  These fish are small and hard to keep on.  All you need to do is touch the leader but still – it aint easy.  I went with a small mahogany dun dry fly to help the situation.  I give much credit to my excellent guide, Rhys Brown, and opponent Tim O’Leary, both agreed to work with me on the approach to catch as many fish as possible.


I worked like a machine with that small fly for 8 hours start to finish.  I hardly took time for a bite of lunch.  I caught 56.  Only two measured for bonus points and my final score was 321.  This would be the best score on this stretch for the weekend.  Tim scored 157.  This turns out to be an excellent score on this stretch as well.


The rest of Team Simms hung in there on Saturday.  At the end of Day 1 we were in 10th place.  All of us had good stretches on Sunday so things looked good to move up.


I headed over to the South Fork on the Eagle to Byington Stretch.  My guide was Cruz Quiroz and my boat mate opponent was Martin Goebel.  While I was prepared to fish my mahogany dun again, Cruz suggested streamers.  Martin and I loved the idea.  My fly was a conehead woolly bugger concoction.  Keep it simple!


Things started fast and furious for me.  In the first hour I boated five fish 14” to 17”.  Remember, you’re only allowed to measure eight for bonus points.  After you measure them all you can’t measure another.  Imagine if you filled your card with 14” to 17” fish and then in the last hour you caught several 17” to 20” fish.  You wouldn’t be able to count them!  So there’s strategy here.  I only measured three of the nice fish I caught this morning.


This would be a large mistake.  One would think that with the fishing starting so incredible that catching eight nice fish would be easy given a long 8 hour fishing day.  But it wasn’t.  At 10 AM, the fish literally stopped eating.  In the remaining six hours of tournament, Martin and I each measured one more fish and left blank spots on the bonus sheet.  A torturous mistake to dwell on. . . .


And you can’t dwell on it.  The good news is that the one more fish I measured was a 20” cuttbow that scored high for me.  Its a long story but this fish was a miracle! Still a tough pill to swallow but you can’t look back.  My final score at the end of the day 467.  Martins score, 249.


Team Simms finished in 7th place.  My individual placement was 12th.  The points were close.  If only each of us could’ve scored a mere 50 points more each day.  I certainly could’ve today on the South Fork.  Oh well.  You can’t win them all.


It’s been a fabulous weekend nonetheless.  And a very special thanks to Simms and my teammates for saving me a spot on the team.  I must say I’m beaten down after traveling all the way to Costa Rica then the One Fly in the same week.  No complaints of course!  Next in line a jaunt up to Yellowstone.  Stay tuned.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Success at Last Fly Fishing in Costa Rica

Though the fishing so far down here in Costa Rica has been brutal I always wake up feeling confident.  I think it’s the reason I’ve had last day success before.  Once again we had a morning storm to deal with but it wasn’t terrible like yesterday.  We couldn’t leave at our planned 5 AM but we left at a respectable 6 AM for the mighty tarpon at the mouth of the Sixaola River.


Early mornings for tarpon have always been good for me.  When we arrived conditions were better than yesterday.  Instead of 10 foot swells we had about 7 feet which seemed better.  There was also some current pulling our fly lines out at a better angle for fishing our tarpon flies down deep.  Rob and I went to work.


Once settled we saw some tarpon begin to roll.  There weren’t tons but plenty more than yesterday.  I knew right then someone was going to hook up.  Sure enough Rob got one on!


Dylan Rose photo

I reeled in as fast as I could.  Grants boat charged near to begin filming the battle for “Atlanticus”.  One fish can make a damn good fishing film when all goes well.  Robs tarpon leaped like crazy the first couple minutes before diving deep.  This is when an angler needs skill to beat down the tarpon rather than get beat down himself.


As I would expect, Rob put a hurt on this tarpon well before it put a hurt on him.  It helps that Rob uses a 14-weight for this type of tarpon fishing.  The fight lasted less than 20 minutes.  At last we had a tarpon landed!


Dylan Rose photo

Grant filmed for “Atlanticus” from the other boat.  I shot photos the best I could for Rob.  For someone who’s never been on board for landing a gigantic fish – I can’t explain how hard it can be sometimes to get photos. Large fish are impossible to hold without hurting them and a last surge by the tarpon can do some serious damage to humans as well.  Especially if it were to leap and land in the boat.


Dalmen estimated Robs tarpon at 140lbs.  They always look bigger but then again, 140lbs is a huge animal.  We released the spectacular fish still full of spite then went back to work.


We literally went less than five minutes and Rob hooked up again.  I reeled in as fast as I could again but our lines were close to begin and his tarpon jumped right into my line before I could get it in.  It looked like a fiasco was about to start but on the next jump the tarpon tossed my fly and line away.  We were lucky.


Dylan Rose photo

This fight didn’t last long.  About three minutes into the battle this tarpon thrashed on the surface with violent headshakes.  Unfortunately, the fly flew loose.


Dylan Rose photo

The pressure was growing mightily on me now to avoid a complete skunking in Costa Rica.  From my observation I was doing exactly the same as Rob.  I went back to work and finally got ripped.  Whatever the fish was he kept coming towards me making driving the hook difficult.  Then the fish woke up and dove for bottom then I knew he was on.


Rob Scott photo

I knew in seconds it was doubtful I had a tarpon.  Really big tarpon often don’t jump but this fish wasn’t “really big”.  And I felt the funny headshakes and the fish swimming in tight circles.  I had a hefty jack crevalle.  These fellas can pull every bit as hard as a tarpon but my 12-weight and I subdued in my first fish of the trip in minutes.  Relief!


Fishing slowed down and a big storm looked to be brewing and headed our direction.  We returned in for a three-hour break.  We spent time doing interviews about tarpon fishing for Grant.  This was one of the big reasons I came down to Costa Rica for the filming of “Atlanticus”.  By the time we finished working the sun was out and it was time for our last fishing session.


The pressure was off me for the last fishing session of this short filming mission to Costa Rica as far as catching “A” fish, but I really wanted to catch at least one more tarpon for Grants filming project.  The weather was fantastic for the first time.  Swells were small and there was barely an ounce of wind.  Rob and I fished one last time with Dalmen while Grant filmed from the other boat and Dylan fished.  It was beautiful evening with clouds over the rainforest mountains and sunlight on the breaking surf.


Rob Scott photo

We only saw one tarpon roll all night but both Rob and I jumped small ones around 40 lbs.  I’d have loved to land mine but this size tarpon is always a challenge to keep on. They jump ridiculously high while shaking madly and the hook went flying as it often does.  What I did catch were two more giant jack crevalle.  One of them gave me my money’s worth dropping me to my knees to my ultimate fighting position!


We rapped it up at about 6 PM.  We went to the house and in short time tossed our junk into our duffle bags and on to a minivan for San Jose.  The drive was about five hours long and put us at the San Jose Holiday Inn just after midnight.  Needless to say, I’m beyond exhausted.


Rob Scott photo

It’s been a great trip with great people despite fishing that certainly could’ve been better.  Grant and his crew and Dylan and the guides have been a joy to be with – fish or no fish.  I should remind everyone, this was one of many shoots Grant has done for his movie since 2014.  We may not have laid the wood to more than one tarpon but I saw some of his footage from past trips and I can assure you, “Atlanticus” will be an awesome part of the FT3 2018.


We catch the first flight out early in the morning.  Looks like we have about three hours to sleep.  I’ll be back on the water quick fishing for Team Simms in the Jackson Hole One Fly.  It’s been a few years since I got to compete in this fun event!


A special thanks to Grant Wiswell and Castaway Films for inviting me on this fantastic trip and to Jungle Tarpon Reserve and Tarponville for making our visit possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Another Tough One Tarpon Fishing In Costa Rica

Tarponville is a well-known lodge down here in Costa Rica.  It’s located in Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge and about a half hour boat ride from the mouth of the Sixaola River which is the river that separates Costa Rica from Panama.  It is here that huge tarpon thrive and have a habit of devouring big flies.


Tarponville isn’t open at this time but Grant Wiswell is friends with the owner Mark who has generously let us stay at his house which is on the beach on the lodge property.  It’s a wild house to say the least.  It’s a treehouse built over the top of a protruding rock.  We’ll be quite comfortable here for two nights.


Dylan Rose photo

One of the highlights of this trip is that my South African friend Rob Scott is fishing with us during our two days here at Tarponville.  Rob owns Tourette Fishing – Fight it in Africa.  These are the folks I tigerfish with in Tanzania, yellowfish in Lesotho, walk the flats of Sudan and also went to Gabon for giant African threadfin. The last time Rob and I fished together was when he and his wife Lucy visited Granny and I in Victor last summer.


We were supposed to begin filming for “Atlanticus” at 5 AM sharp this morning.  We experienced a violent thunderstorm between 4 AM and 6 AM and we couldn’t leave for fishing until 8 AM.  Another tough break to say the least.  Rob, Dylan and I still got up early and drank coffee and caught up as the sun broke through.  It’s the first time I’ve relaxed since I got here.


Once it was 8 we walked down the beach and met our guides.  We have two guides and two boats.  Rob and I took one with an additional camera man that just arrived, Darin Warren.  The weather was much nicer than earlier but we were experiencing big rolling waves which would definitely hinder our fishing and boat handling once we got to the mouth of the Sixaola River.


The boat ride to the mouth of the Sixaola River was gorgeous.  The ride was about eight miles and we parallel the shore the entire way.  While most of the way was stunning beach butted up against the rainforest there were some fantastic rock formations as well.  Costa Rica’s Caribbean shores are rightfully famous for being beautiful.


When we got there the waves were difficult to handle as expected.  The way you tarpon fish here is you feed out line and let it hang deep and strip very slowly – almost jigging your fly in the current.  The line of choice is the Sonar Titan Big Water Taper 500 gr sinking.  We ran into yet another hurdle.  There was virtually no current.


Our guides are brothers.  Rob and I fished with the younger of the two, Dalmen Hansel.  Dalmen is a mere 19 years old but very pleasant and seems extremely knowledgeable.  His dad was a fishing guide and Dalmen went on trips and helped him since he could walk.


Despite the huge rolling waves and no current, Rob and I and Dylan from the other boat were able to cast and give the tarpon our best shot.  We actually saw a few rolls but never got a strike.  Dalmen said that normally they see hundreds of rolling tarpon on any given morning but not today.  Further adding to our already challenging morning, Darin got seasick from trying film in the big rolling waves.  Poor guy was hurling over the side.


We went in around 11 AM.  The tarpon weren’t feeding and Darin was feeling awful.  Usually someone that gets seasick hits land they feel better but Darin was done for the day.  The rest of us ate some lunch and rested until 3 PM.  Then we headed back out till nearly dark.  This session we didn’t even see a fish.


It’s been a tough three days of catching no fish.  I really feel for Grant as he’s invested some money for this four-day shoot and so far, got no reward.  As for me it’s always great to be part of a film and fish new water.  But I’m beaten down as well.  There’s some pressure on me tomorrow.  I’ve never been skunked on an international fishing trip in my life.  Hopefully tomorrow I can catch at least something.


Stay tuned for the last day of fly fishing in Costa Rica for the tarpon film, “Atlanticus”.


A special thanks to Grant Wiswell and Castaway Films for inviting me on this fantastic trip and to Jungle Tarpon Reserve and Tarponville for making our visit possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Beaten By the Weather – Tarpon Fishing in Costa Rica

I’ve been on plenty of exotic trips that I waited a long time for only to be brutalized by weather, bad conditions or simply lousy fishing.  There’s nothing more you can do other than get out on the water and give it your best shot.  You don’t blame the guides or the lodge.


One in about five of my travels challenge me with poor conditions.  Here at Jungle Tarpon Reserve we didn’t get as much rain last night as the evening before, but we got some.  Enough that once again the jungle rivers of Costa Rica didn’t look great for our half day of tarpon fishing and filming for “Atlanticus”.


The area we targeted last night to fish and film from shore this morning was grim.  The river was high and not a sign of life.  But in the face of the horrible muddy water we found a school of tarpon nestled in a heap of fallen trees and overhanging palms.  We had to fish from the boat.  It was such a place that if we hooked up, keeping a tarpon on past the first jump seemed impossible.  All critters were safe from humans here including the miniature-dinosaur-looking basilik lizard, better known as the Jesus Christ lizard because he literally walks on water.


I gave it a try.  A jumped tarpon looks good on film even if he gets away.  The cast required was an angled upstream 60-foot shot over a stick and between some tightly snuggled palm leaves.  Palms don’t give up the fly and the last thing I wanted to do was snag it and spook away the fish.  I worked my way in with non-risky casts at first before going for it.


When I went for it my cast landed good.  I had my Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan Big Water Taper 500 gr sinking line so I let the current take it down.  On my first strip I felt the thud – do doubt a tarpon sucking my fly.  I strip-set like all get out and just as I went tight I could feel the tarpon swimming towards me.  I strip set again so far in my stroke I nearly knocked the camera from Grants hands.  I went tight again but the tarpon was still coming and the tension left again.  On my third attempt I tangled the line (Murphy’s Law) and couldn’t strip anymore.  I swept my rod to the side in one last desperate hope to hook him.  Just as the tarpon turned away and started to jump he spit my fly completely.  The big silver slab was gone for good.


When any fish swims at you they’re hard to hook, let alone the rock hard mouthed tarpon.  It was a tough break and nine times out of ten I don’t hook that tarpon no matter what.  Nonetheless I botched what turned out to be our one eating tarpon over our two days at Jungle Tarpon ReserveGrant laughed it off but I’m totally bummed.


At 11 we headed back to the lodge.  It was a quiet boat ride home but it was no one’s fault.  Conditions and tarpon simply did not cooperate.


After a quick snack from the local store we caught a shuttle for five hours all the way to the other end of Costa Rica.  We are presently east of Limon in Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge staying at the owner of Tarponville Lodge’s house.  It’s a beautiful sunset and we’re about to grab some grub and take a short night’s sleep.  At 5 AM tomorrow we are fishing the mouth of the Sixaola River in the Caribbean for giant deepwater tarpon.


A special thanks to Grant Wiswell and Castaway Films for inviting me on this fantastic trip and to Jungle Tarpon Reserve and Tarponville for making our visit possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Torrential Rain Hinders Filming “Atlanticus”

The rain was relentless until 4 AM this morning.  We got up about that time and powered some coffee and snacks then loaded the boat for a full day of filming.  The rain stopped completely at 4:45 and at 5, when the glow of daylight began, we shoved off.  Our goal was to put some “Jungle Tarpon” in the air for Grant Wiswell’s upcoming film, “Atlanticus”.


The mighty jungle river was swollen and a color deeper than melted chocolate.  Fast current put our guide on edge as he motored downstream dodging new snags, submerged hidden trees and floating logs, all a danger to the motor and could flip the boat.  Tarpon, snook and the resident freshwater cichlids are adapted to feed in these conditions but flies must literally hit the fish in the face.


Despite discouraging conditions we remained optimistic.  Dylan went to work first and as he did the rain started again.  Filming in the rain isn’t much fun and risky to Grants high quality filming equipment.  Tom Enderlin held an umbrella over Grant as he filmed all morning long.


Dylan and I rotated casting turns.  We saw a mere two tarpon roll so we concentrated on places Tom sees tarpon regularly – just hoping.  We cast our 12-weights relentlessly until 11 AM without a strike or even a swirl behind the fly.  Rather than fight the battle all day we returned to camp for a three-hour lunch and siesta.  It was a tough morning to say the least but fortunately the rain stopped and the skies looked better for the afternoon.


Though it didn’t rain anymore, the late afternoon/evening session didn’t go much better.  On a positive note, we saw more rolling tarpon and the river drops fast here when it doesn’t rain.  Tomorrow could be perfect and Grant found this cool place where we can fish from shore.  A hook up and fight with a 100lb tarpon from shore on this small river would add some life to the already superb looking film.


I didn’t mention it to start todays blog but this morning when I flicked on my bathroom light in a 4 AM sleep stupor, I thought is saw a large spider scurry behind the sink.  I brushed the sighting off as nothing but a bad dream and went fishing.  Tonight, Julius II (Julius I was one in Tanzania in 2013), was waiting for me.  The sickeningly huge arachnid was t-boning a 2” cockroach.  I considered smearing him but my flip flop wasn’t large enough and the mess likely would’ve spattered all over me.  I left him alone.  Needless to say, I didn’t fall asleep easily.


A special thanks to Grant Wiswell and Castaway Films for inviting me on this fantastic trip and to Jungle Tarpon Reserve and Tarponville for making our visit possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing