Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bray's Bayou, Houston- 3/17/13

I was given an assignment in Houston for work the next couple months, and although very far away from spring in the Rockies, I decided to try to make the best of it and do a little fishing while down here.  I decided to buy an 8wt to bring down with me and hopefully hook into come nice carp in the Bayou City.  Really having no idea as to what I was doing down here, I searched all over the internet for information on chasing fish around town on the fly.  Not a lot to go with, so I visited IFLY- The Anglers Edge- Fly Shop in the Galleria for some locals knowledge.  People do fly fish around Houston, but mostly in local neighborhood ponds for bass.  I told the guy at the fly shop that I was more interested in chasing some Golden Bones around.  He kinda laughed at me, but he did point me in the direction of some great spots to find them.

After being down here for a few days, and working some really long hours, I finally had a little time to start some reconnaissance missions around town, and scope out some spots to try when I really had some time to wet a line.  The first place I looked was in Bray's Bayou, in the southwest part of Houston.  Now the bayous of Houston are completely different than any other place I've fished.  They make the DSP look like a beautiful mountain river, which is very hard to imagine!  They are basically concrete canals to help control flooding in the event of a hurricane.  The water is shallow and slow moving, and there is no structure to be heard of.  But there are fish!!  Lots and lots of them, and very big.  I couldn't believe all the fish that I saw swimming around.  Bigmouth, smallmouth, catfish, and carp.  Lots of carp.  My stoke factor significantly went up.  I was ready to do a little urban fly fishing right in the heart of Houston!!

Beautiful Bray's Bayou!
Had some time this afternoon to finally do some fishing in this city.  The first place I went was a little pond in southwest Houston off the 610 that supposedly held some nice bass.  The little ponds were located in Meyer Park.  I was only able to get about 15 casts in before I swarmed by some curious little guys, wondering what the hell I was doing waving a stick around.  I spent about an hour teaching them how to cast and fish, hoping that one of them would hook into a fish.  It didn't happen, but I had a blast watching them take turns trying to cast my fly rod.  It really is funny the people that you meet because of this sport.  Little guys with a complete different background than me!

My new fishing buddies
I broke away from the my new buddies at Meyer Park and headed back to the spot in Bray's Bayou that I had scoped out earlier this week.  Again, there were carp everywhere.  I used damn near every fly in my Fly-Carpin swap box, but could not seem to get the carp to take any of them.  They were not real spooky, but they did not seem to be feeding too hard.  I did manage to fool one on Mr. Reynolds carp fly, but the hook up was short lived, and I had lost him before I knew it.

I traveled farther down the bayou to a spot closer to the Houston Medical Center.  I parked in a church parking lot, and started walking the concrete lined bayou.  I started seeing fish, but I had no idea what they were.  They weren't moving or feeding, kinda just hunkered down on the bottom of the river, but there were probably over a hundred in this little pod.  I started fishing to them, and they kinda seemed to chase the fly, but in an hour of fishing, I couldn't get one to take the fly.  Finally I got one to eat, I brought this ugly beast to hand.  No idea what it was, and I didn't really know if I should touch it or not.  I took some quick pictures, and gently nudged it back into the water with my foot.  After doing some research, it looks like the fish is Pleco catfish, which is a fish that people keep in their aquarium.  No idea how these tropical fish made their way in the bayous of Houston, but it sure is a first for me.  Even though it sucks being away from my beautiful wife and my Colorado home, at least there is some interesting fishing deep in the bayous of Houston.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Clutch TTx 905-Review

I attended the Denver Fly Fishing Show early in January and had the opportunity to see firsthand all the new products that that will be hitting the market this year.  I casted a bunch of new rods, both graphite and bamboo, as I enjoy to feel how the different companies rods compare.   The rod that got me the most excited was from a small midwest rod builder, Clutch Tactical Fly Rods.  I only had a couple minutes to cast both the 5wt and 6wt rods, but in that limited amount of time, I felt a rod that was super powerful, capable of making perfect loops at every distance.  It felt so good in my hands!  I spent some time talking with Jeff Clyma, of Clutch, about the philosophy behind their rods.  They wanted to build a lineup of rods that they themselves built with their own hands.  They wanted to work the tapers until they acted exactly like they wanted them too.  I felt a lot of passion and commitment in the way that Jeff talked about Clutch, and I left the fly show thinking about ways I could get my hands on one to see if it performed as well in the river as it did on a casting pond.

I emailed Jeff about an upcoming trip to the San Juan River, and expressed an interest in an opportunity to get my hands on a 5wt rod to put through the ringers on the one of the West's most famous tailwaters.  I wanted to really see how the rod handled all types of fishing situations, situations I knew would encounter on the Juan.  I wanted to throw double nymph rigs, large, meaty streamers, and tiny dry midges to sipping trout to really see how this rod would do as a everyday trout stick.  Five minutes after my email to Jeff, he called me and said a Clutch TTx 905 was making its way to Denver.  WOW!  I was super excited for this San Juan trip now.

Initial Impressions

The rod came in a real nice aluminum rod case with the Clutch logo on the side.  I pulled the rod sock out of the tube, and starting pulling pieces out.  The workmanship on the rod was top notch.  The black color of the rod made it very nice looking, and the smoke anodized Snake Brand guides were an addition that really made it sharp.  The feature that I found really cool was the Clutch logo engraved in the wood spacer.  The cork handle looked very high grade, and after putting the rod together, I could feel the same power just waving it around in my living room as I did at the Denver Fly Show.

I took the rod to the park to cast, and the same feeling that I had at the fly show immediately came back to me.  I would describe this rod as effortlessly powerful.  If you just make good casting stokes with it, it will form perfect loops for you everytime.  The wind even picked at the park, but the 5wt would still punch out enough line to power through it.  Probably the best part about casting the Clutch TTx905 is that you can feel it load at all distances.  Sometimes with my other rods, you can find it harder to really feel the rod load in the shorter distances.  They still cast fine, but it just doesn't feel the same as when you get a really nice, responsive rod like the Clutch.  Having this rod in my hand made me a better cast.  I could make the fly line do anything I wanted to.  But this is in the park, so I still needed to see how it would do where it counted: the river.

River Testing

I fished the Clutch on the San Juan with a Lamson Konic reel loaded with a Scientific Anglers Sharkskin WF-5-F line.  Mainly I was fishing a double nymph rig with tiny midge flies, requiring a perfect dead drift to a trouts mouth to induce a strike.  The rod roll casts and mends like a dream.  It would help me cast my line exactly to where I wanted it, and help me to keep a perfect drift through the numerous deep pools that the San Juan offers.  Once I did hook a big trout, the rod tip was sensitive enough to protect the fragile 6x tippet and small flies, and greatly enhance the chances of bringing these large trout to the net.  I tied on some larger streamer patterns to see how the rod would handle casting a bigger fly, and also swinging and stripping them.  Again, I had no problem casting any size streamer across the river to start a swing.  The sensitivity of the tip allowed me to feel even the smallest of strikes.  With bigger flies and 3x tippet, you could really lean on the fish, allowing the backbone of the rod to steer the trout to your will.

The only thing that I did not like on the rod was the lack of a hook holder on the rod.  When I move around from hole to hole, it's nice to just place your fly on the hook holder and reel in tight, and move.  Not a big deal, just takes a little bit more time to make sure your hook is secure before you start moving.

Overall Impression

A gorgeous rod that is worth the $655.00 price tag.  It will handle most of the fishing situations that you would encounter on a typical western trout stream, and more.  The company is filled with super passionate people like Jeff that are excited to be making rods they love.  The rods are made right here in the USA, with skill and precision.  Clutch will be producing a 4wt and 7wt rod in the near future.  The 4wt would be perfect on some of the smaller Colorado waters, making a perfect little dry fly stick.  I'm sure the 7wt Clutch would a phenomenal carp stick, giving you plenty of backbone to land some Golden Bones. All in all, I am very impressed with Clutch Fly Rods, and look forward to the day when I own my own.  Time to start saving every penny so I can get my hands on my very own!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

South Boulder Creek- 3/3/13

Part of what I really enjoy about fly fishing is the constant exploration that it enables me to do.  There is always new places to go, with new water to fish.  I headed up to Boulder this morning to check out a local tailwater that I've heard about, but never ventured out to fish.  South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir is a beautiful river, filled with even prettier fish.  The hike down to the river kind of reminds me of the hike into Cheesman Canyon, and the scenery just keeps getting better the farther down the canyon you go.  A few thoughts about the day:

  1. Never get directions from your buddies.  They are never right, and they just cause you to drive way farther than you need to.
  2. Wild fish are beautiful, regardless of size.  The fish in this river are some of the best looking I've seen.  Good things do come in small packages.
  3. I love Colorado!!!  Where else is there so much awesome fly fishing!

Pretty rainbow
View from a bridge 

Gorgeous little brown trout
Amazing view of the divide from the top of Flagstaff Mountain