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Old 06-13-2014, 09:20 PM
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Default A Beginners Journal

Alrighty, After months of reading and researching I've decided to take the plunge into fly fishing! To introduce myself... My name is Luke, I live in Spring,(North of Houston) Texas. My fishing experience starts when I was three, when I was given my first fishing pole. No, not a fly rod... Just this ol' walmart scooby doo theme pole. From then on I was hooked, and frequently my father would take me out, usually just to our subdivision ponds and go drown a few worms. We would just catch small sunfish. But very rarely, I would catch a good 2-3lb bass! (I think I've only caught 4-6 bass in my entire fishing career. ((ages 3-17))

Once when I was eight or seven we took a family vacation to Branson, Missouri. When we were there we visited the trout fishery (Conservation hatchery, shepard of the hills, table rock dam, and went down to a river called fall creek that was fed by the dam. When we went to the water we saw fly fishers everywhere. I can still visualize seeing an angler forming those tight loops of line, shooting out 40-60ft and delicately landing on the water. As soon as I saw this I wanted to learn how to fly fish. Right when we got home my parents went to walmart and bought this 20$ fly rod starter rod/reel combo. It came already lined (no backing of course, haha) and a few trout flies. I think it came with a heat shrink connector for the Line-leader connection. For about a month I would swing the pole back and forth, imagining myself as that angler I saw. And for some reason, I stopped playing with it, and now 10 years later. I re-found my passion for fishing. And 2 months ago I went to the attic and dug out that old walmart fly rod and reel and for those 2 months I have been practicing. Both in the yard, and on the sunfish in the same ponds as I fished 6 years ago.

In summary: I was raised from ages 3-12 on a basic rod/reel with a weight, bobber, hook and worm. Never even touching lures or artificials. After about a 5 year break of zero fishing I have started back up again! So I will be using this to document my journey and hopefully on day my adventure may encourage or teach people to getting into this beautiful hobby.

SO, lets start this shall we?

In April I dug out the old rod, and here it is in all its glory:
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Its a Shakespeare 5/6wt 8'0 graphite rod, with a click drag reel.

So this was how I started, I did watch a few videos before I took it out on the water. And after a few days of casting in the back yard, I went to the smaller subdivision (1.5 acres of water) and got my first fly wet. I put all of my supplies (the started kit trout flies, some 6lb test line, needle nose pliers, and a scissors) in a this old woolen satchel.

Out of all of the flies that came with the rod, i picked a small probably 10-14 black gold bead head nymph, it reminded me of a small woolly bugger. At the time, I just wanted to fish so even though at the time I had a limited knowledge of leaders/tippet. So I just went through my old tackle box and tied some 6lb test rapala fishing line. Super ghetto haha! This set-up probably makes most of the more experienced fly anglers cringe on how poorly rigged this is. But hey, it was all I had, and it works ;p Did i forget to mention I was using the same un-tapered line that came with the reel 10 years ago?

Anyways, for about 20 minutes I wasn't getting anything. I read about different forms of stripping, and while I tried everything I could, there was still no strikes. But I was going to endure! The thing about subdivision ponds is that there is ZERO structure. So you are literally fishing blind. Hoping there is fish there. Eventually I kept on moving down the shore until I came into a smaller bend where the pond made a "cove" in this "u" shaped area I tried new things. I remembered reading on the fish are at different depths, so I would cast and pause and count. Trying different depths until finally, something hit my fly! Immediately I cast right in the same spot. 1...2...3... slow strip... quick strip... pause... BAM. The reel screamed! My adrenaline spiked and I had a fish on for the first time on a fly rig ever. I kept trying to keep tension and moving opposite of the direction the fish was heading. I had him in the reel and he would run, 5-10feet, I would reel in a little, and BAM again he took another run! It was a battle of tug of war. I had no idea what was on my line, was it huge bluegill? Maybe a bass? This guy was a truck, finally I felt him tiring and was able to reel him in, I finally got him closer enough to the surface to see what he was... It was a catfish!
Click the image to open in full size.

I never read anywhere of someone catching catfish on the fly, boy was I not prepared. As a kid we would catch this after putting a worm on a hook and litting it sit for 20 minutes. But a fish of this size to eat a fly smaller than my finger amazed me at the time. I had no idea. Looking back, this first fish really spoiled me on how fighting a fish on a fly rod is. Because now, two months later that was still the biggest fish I've caught on this shakespeare.

The funny thing is, as a kid my dad would always remove the hook for me, I was always to scared about him poking me with his stingers. And actually I still am scared today. I was too scared and didn't know where to grab him, so actually my dad had to come ( 5minute walk) and bring some gloves and then I was able to unhook him.

After this first fish, I was exhilarated. The high you get when you have a big fish on is indescribable. (Well at least with my writing skills, haha)

With this new technique of letting the fly sit, I finally found the fish. I caught some really small sunfish (2-3in), and spoiled by the catfish fight. They felt like nothing, hardly bending the rod tip. But soon I was into another big fish... It was another catfish!
Click the image to open in full size.

If you notice I have the gloves on this time haha. This one fought just like the other, this time I had spectators and they were amazed, with the amount of rod bend they thought I had a 20lb fish on the end of the line. And after another 5 minute fight he was landed and I felt proud. That was the last fish I caught before the sun went down and I ran out of light. All in all, it was a great first experience on the water with my fly rod. Needless to say, on that day I stepped foot into a beautiful hobby, and sport, that I can't wait to learn more and get better at.

That is all for this entry folks, thanks for reading.

-Luke
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Old 06-16-2014, 04:29 PM
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Default Re: A Beginners Journal

The tug is the drug!!

You're officially a fly fisherman now!! Great post.
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Old 06-18-2014, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by kcjerryd View Post
The tug is the drug!!

You're officially a fly fisherman now!! Great post.
Thanks! I can't wait to become "good" at it.


In other news, since I started a little over two months ago I've done quite a bit of fishing within those two months. Since I don't feel like making a multiple posts to catch everyone up with my journey, I think I will just try and summarize them into as few posts as possible...

The flies that come with the ol' shakespeare broomstick rod were your generic trout dry flies, usually red or black body with white wings. All synthetic materials, cheaply made. But, within the trash flies there was some San Jaun worms and a popper! I always took my fly rod out in hopes of a Big Ol' Bass. But sadly all of the ponds I fished in, lacked any structure. No sunkun trees, lily pands, or anything. So it was completely blind fishing. An hour on the water was me waving the rod in the hair, mostly practicing casting than catching fish. For the main reason, that I could never catch anything. I would cast, perpendicular to the bank, parallel to the bank. I tried everything, really with no luck. Rarely would I get a strike, and if I did. I couldn't set the hook. Now I had a hunch that my lack of success was either of 2 things.

1. There frankly wasn't any fish in the pond
2. My flies aren't anything close to what the sunfish or bass normally eat in a day.

So, first thing I did was try different ponds. And I actually went to one and got my first break! I was talking with a baitcaister friend he always told me how much fun topwater was, so what do I do? I tie on this popper. Now the thing is, this popper is WAY to big for even my 5/6 rod to throw out there properly. To this day I have no idea what size it is. I am guessing around 2/0 maybe a little smaller.

But I tie on the popper, and for 45 minutes I struggled. I had no idea how to properly fish with it. So I tried everything, and here is where coincidence taught me how to fish with a popper. I took a good cast right parallel to the bank, I stripped it in a little, and suddenly I got a text! I left the popper where it was, forgetting about fishing and came back to reality. I replied to the text and right when I slipped the phone into my pocket did I get a huge strike into the popper! The big popper flashed downward and my rod tip bent. after almost an hour I finally had a fish! Hoping for a bass I was let down that the fish wasn't strong enough to pull the line onto my reel. I stripped in the line to reveal this:

Click the image to open in full size.

This is the biggest bluegill I have ever caught. I have medium sized hands for a guy and even then, I could barely hold it. This fish was a pig. If I wasn't a catch and release guy he would've been considered a "Keeper". Here you can see the size of the popper, Just the foam alone is bigger than its eye and blue spot. Lesson of the day: patience with poppers, let them sit longer than you want to, even wait a minute if you have the patience. But if you don't 10-30 seconds is good. After that go ahead and strip in some line to make the "pop" noise. If that doesn't work after 3 or so strips. Cast again. After casting in the same spot for more than 5 minutes, move and try another spot. Rinse and repeat. While I may have gotten the technique down. I think that popper is much to big for an average size bluegill, and for that reason. That is the first and last fish I have caught on that specific popper.

After multiple tries at that pond with the huge bluegill, I didn't seem to have much success. I knew there was fish in here. The problem was my fly selection. Which was soon dwindling... I was running into another problem. After a strike my flies kept on "snapping" off

As a new guy in the hobby, I tried analyzing what was happening. I was testing the knot and tied it real tight. (at this point I was using the clinch knot) I ended up figuring out that I was cutting the leftover to close to the knot. So solution #2 on my journey. Make sure you make a good knot, and when you do. Don't cut the "leftover" line to close to the knot. Now I have stopped bothering with the clinch knot and started using the davy knot. In my opinion its a lot more simpler and takes less time for me to tie and more time with my line in the water. And that's the most important thing right?

I think that is a decent wrapping up point for this post.

Thanks for reading, any comments or questions are appreciated and welcomed.

-Luke

---------- Post added at 10:45 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:24 PM ----------

Alrighty, at this point. I have gotten most of the basic down. I practice casting in my backyard regularly, I got to the point where I could comfortable cast 30 feet in a nice tight loops and do a few false casts without losing control and the loops dying. I also started trying out another cast... the almighty ROOLLLL cast. (even thought I don't need its since the ponds I fish rarely have anything behind me when I cast, I figure its still important to try and learn.)

At the point I am still fishing my subdivision retention pond. Hoping to run into the elusive large-mouth bass I caught on a worm and bobber those many years ago. But still no dice in the bass department. (all I can catch at this point are 3-4in sized sunfish)

At this point I was thinking about upgrading my fly rod and reel. I wanted something more, something better that wasn't broomstick. I knew I didn't need any fancy trout rod since I will 99% of the time be fishing for bass and panfish on the side. So I researched, I looked into Allen, TFO sig or Pro, Reddington, and Orvis... They all had good starting rods. But eventually I made my way to the Orvis catalog and noticed they had free fly fishing courses. Even better the nearest Orvis retailer was only 20 minutes away! I was excited, I signed up for the F101 course. Now At this point I had over a month and a half of fishing. I really didn't need an intro to flying course, with the amount of reading I did on this forum and many other websites I knew It wouldn't benefit me that much... but the 101 course was a pre-req to a 301 course where they take you on a guided trip on a local warmwater stream!

So come Sunday morning, I park right in front of the store and anxiously await the class to start. Everyone there was really nice, and they had a lot of volunteers. Although I seemed to be the youngest one there, but that didn't bother me... I think of it how I get a head start to most of these people by getting into the hobby earlier :P

They equipped all of the students with 5wt Orvis Clearwaters and we were taken to a parking lot to be taught casting. there was roughly 30 people and the broke us into small groups of 3, each small group taught by either an employee or volunteer. Now I don't want to brag, but I think out of most of the people I was a little more familiar with fly casting, I was self-taught. And most of those people, that was the first time they picked up a fly rod.

Compared to the shakespeare broomstick, this Clearwater seemed like magic. I could accurately cast 30 ft so much easier than before. The volunteer that was teaching my group saw me doing this and said I was a natural. I then explained to him I've been doing a lot of fly fishing, but just self taught. He saw some of my mistakes in my form, and once he corrected them I was shooting out 40 feet of line, and he was ready to teach my to single haul. But that is not part of the 101 lesson so he had to stop and focus on the other people on a group. Which I was prefectly happy with, I had my technique down. After that day, I realized... Casting is all about patience. Waiting for the line to loop behind you on the back cast. Then accelerating the rod forward and waiting for that loop to roll out. It suddenly became a lot more relaxing than before. Some key notes for beginners who want tighter loops: Make sure you stop the rod abruptly around the 2 o'clock position, and when the line goes behind you, pretend to hammer a nail, and bring the rod forward (with more forearm than wrist) to again an abrupt stop around 10 or 11 o'clock.

After the casting session they gave us run down of the fundamentals of fly fishing, telling us the basic knots to use, the differences in lines and leaders. Going into detail about the importance of tapered leaders and attaching tippet to the end. All good stuff for anyone interested in fly fishing. After the lecture they awarded us with a "Orvis 101 alumni badge" a Free 1 year subscription to Trout Unlimited, and 3 coupons. 1 20% any rod or reel, 30$ off a fully loaded lanyard, and 25$ off any purchase of 50$ or more. Spoiler two of those three I will use in the future

After the class I talked to a man who fishes my area regularly, and asked him what flies worked well and what ponds he had the most success in. He quickly hooked me up with a few bead head nymphs, I think they are called, copper john, prince head, and a hares ear.... not 100% on the last one. Along with those, a black woolly bugger and a chartruse/white clouser minnow.

I left the store with my bagful of goodies ready to test out my new flies at my subdivision pond. Hoping that the new flies would give me better success catching some quality sized fish.

---------- Post added at 11:54 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:45 PM ----------

A new day, a new fly, and hopefully a new fish. I wanted so badly to add a bass to my fish caught list on a fly rod. I went to the same pond as usual, this time to an old sweet spot several years ago. I tied on the chartreuse/white clouser minnow my first cast I felt a small tug! but soon, didn't feel any pressure on the line. I stripped in my line to reveal...

Click the image to open in full size.

This little guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The fly was almost the same size as him, Poor guy I snagged him right under his eye. I got the hook undone and as gently as possible, released him back. Hopefully that little guy is okay, maybe I'd meet him again when he is a lot bigger

I was still in my dream world, hoping to catch a bass that day. Never really appreciating what I really had. On that minnow I got a few strikes, but could never bring anything in after that little guy. I was too stubborn. I switched to the woolly bugger. I tried everything. Longer casts, letting it sink into deeper water. Slow retrieve, fast retrieve, pausing in between strips. Nothing was working. I figured there wasn't anything big enough to really desire to eat my fly. Either that or my presentation was wrong. The sun went down and the mosquitoes forced me to walk back home. Reflecting on the event at the pond today, wondering why the "streamers" weren't working...

The next trip, I gave up on the Bass mentality, and was blessed with a different perspective. After looking at the warm water picture thread, I saw some really cool pictures of sunfish... which brought me to the thinking... I should stop stressing out about catching a big one, that may or not be present. And focus on the small things in life that God has blessed us with. I clipped of the clouser, and tied on a nymph.

With the three "new" nymphs I tied on the green/olive one with a golden bead head. My first cast had me into a fish, but I felt the familiar "snap" I groaned, I knew I should have stuck with the davy knot and not try the clinch knot again... This time I picked out what I knew was a prince bead head nymph, around size 10-14. I learned my lesson and used the davy knot, NOOB LESSON (use knots that are easy for you, and that work. Just because the pro say this is the best knot, if its confusing for you, try out other stuff, explore, don't be afraid of going out of the box There is no best way of doing something if you aren't having fun.

After the switch I couldn't stop the action, while it didn't bend my rod to the cork, or send me to the backing. I was able to become connected with nature. And truly witness the beautiful creation that God has given us. Over the next few trips out to the pond, I caught many beautiful fish, and here are some finally deserved pictures!

Most of my fish were pretty small... like this little guy

Click the image to open in full size.

But as the day went on, the bigger the fish would get =p

Click the image to open in full size.
a little bigger.... but where is the dad?

Click the image to open in full size.

there we go, now we found him!

That is probably the average size of the bigger sunfish I would catch in my subdivision. Looking at that, I would think that would support a good bass population, but maybe over 6 years the bass have died out and the 'gill have taken over haha.

Anyways, thanks again everyone for reading! Any feedback is always welcomed

And just for stickin through, here is some real eye candy...

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:36 AM
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Default Re: A Beginners Journal

dude, great journal so far! I started under similar circumstances and experience and am now just starting to get back into the swing of things. looking forward to more entries!
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Old 06-19-2014, 02:34 AM
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Default Re: A Beginners Journal

to the forum and the addiction....great idea to post a journal
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jeed View Post
dude, great journal so far! I started under similar circumstances and experience and am now just starting to get back into the swing of things. looking forward to more entries!
Thanks! I haven't got a relative or friend that has a passion for fishing, not to mention fly fishing! So you guys are all the people that are actually interested in it. Unofficial fishing buddies

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpbfly View Post
to the forum and the addiction....great idea to post a journal
Thanks, I'm glad I can be a part of the amazing community!


So on the 6/14 I went to my uncles ranch. On his ranch he owns a 2 acre farm pond, which a little over a year ago he filled it with flathead minnows, blue gill fry, crappie fry, and.... Large-mouth Bass fry! Finally, I knew I would be on water filled with bass. I had a chance to add a bass, and maybe a crappie to my fly rod catch list.

On that day I not only brought the ol' shakespear broom stick, but also my old conventional tackle rod/reel I still wasn't too confident in my fly fishing skills, so I brought it along as a back up.

My mom wanted to try fishing, and so I showed her how to use the conventional tackle... and on my first cast a 7" bluegill hit the lure on the line! already I knew it was going to be a great pond.

I took my fly rod up and tied on a size 8 black woolly bugger, the only problem was, there was too much wind! I had no idea on how to cast into the wind, so I just walked around to the end of the pond where the win was no longer blowing at my. Eventually I made my way on the dock, the pond had a lot of grass and algae, it was covering most of the surface, from the shore to about 5-10 feet into the water. But there was some empty space where I could carefully strip in my fly without getting caught. I tried everything, I would let my fly sink, until I could no longer see it, different depths, different types of stripping methods. I was on the dock casting into the only spot I could for over an hour. But I was patient, but more than that, I was stubborn, I had to catch a bass!

I cast perfectly right beside some lily pads, I let my bugger slower fade into the water. One strip.... two strip.... a shadow! There was a massive shadow heading right towards my fly! ...three strip.... small jerk strip... The shadow flashed its mouth and ate the fly, I felt the line tighten, and saw the monster dash into the weeds. I finally had a bass on my line, I was going crazy, my family a couple hundred feet away could hear me screaming. This fish was taking my for a ride. It quickly put me on my reel, it was a battle of attrition. The fish was to big to lift out of the water on the deck, I had to climb off the deck and on the shore. I pulled him out of the weeds, and slowly my thumb found its way into his mouth and on his lip...

Click the image to open in full size.

I didn't have a measuring tape or scale, but my best judgments was that he was over 12" and 2lbs if not more. He was my only catch that day on the fly, but boy was he worth it. And even then, its not about quantity, its about being outside and enjoying nature. Catching a fish, just to bring it closer, admire its beauty and release it safely back to live.

On 6/17 I decided enough was enough, I upgraded my 5/6 Shakespeare fly rod, with a 4 wt Orvis Clearwater outfit (with those awesome coupons from the 101 course I took). While I know I could have gotten a rod of the same quality for a cheaper price, this store had given me the 101 (and 201 course, spoilers (; ) for free. And more than that, to me I wasn't buying just the rod, or the brand. I was buying connections. Most of the people in the Orvis store close to me seemed genuine and never while I was in there did they try pushing me to buy a product. Along with that, those people fish my area very frequently and my hopes were/are to become 'friends' and learn from them. Also, it does come with a nice 25 year warranty, which most online stores don't so in case my fan goes berserk and breaks my rod tip, I know I am covered :P

Along with the rod and real, I bought a new fly case, and "filled" it with some new flies. All were from their experience in the area, were the nymphs that worked the best for bass and panfish.

So without further ado, here is some pics of my new goodies

Click the image to open in full size.

Its got 125 yards of backing, with the clearwater 4wt WF floating line.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is my topwater flies, 3 poppers, and 1 dragonfly that I've had for a very long time. Still haven't caught anything with it though.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is the nymphs... Copper johns, to beaded prince head, and some others that I wish I knew the name of.

Click the image to open in full size.

Lastly here is a full box shot, including the nymphs and streamers.
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Old 06-24-2014, 10:12 PM
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Default Re: A Beginners Journal

Excellent posts! Very interesting to read, especially as a beginner myself!

One thing I have noticed is that the very nature of fly fishing makes me take the time to appreciate the fish's beauty: it's markings, bars, belly color, lateral line etc.

It's nice to not be so concerned with catching a lunker. Instead, this sport makes look at a small fish like a bluegill with a greater respect than perhaps I once did when I was strictly a conventional "bass" fisherman. With an appropriate set-up, a bluegill can certainly put up quite a resistance!

It's also nice to be able beat the skunk with a 4 inch fish, too!
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:16 AM
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Originally Posted by eightbites View Post
Thanks! I haven't got a relative or friend that has a passion for fishing, not to mention fly fishing! So you guys are all the people that are actually interested in it. Unofficial fishing buddies
unofficial fishing buddies it is! congrats on your first bass!
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jwthought81 View Post
Excellent posts! Very interesting to read, especially as a beginner myself!

One thing I have noticed is that the very nature of fly fishing makes me take the time to appreciate the fish's beauty: it's markings, bars, belly color, lateral line etc.

It's nice to not be so concerned with catching a lunker. Instead, this sport makes look at a small fish like a bluegill with a greater respect than perhaps I once did when I was strictly a conventional "bass" fisherman. With an appropriate set-up, a bluegill can certainly put up quite a resistance!

It's also nice to be able beat the skunk with a 4 inch fish, too!

Its interesting, noticing the changes in perspective. I never would have thought someone could have a fun time just catching sunfish. Before....being able to only catch sunfish was called an unsuccessful day. Now, I am happy with all sizes, the small 3" fry, to the rare 12" monster gills, and everything in between. Nature sure is something.

Quote:
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unofficial fishing buddies it is! congrats on your first bass!
Thanks Jeed! Sunfish: check, Bass: check, Carp: ????

So for all of the yankee viewers :P blessed with trout streams, I am been on a search for something similar. Ever since I've started fly fishing, I've always wanted to fish moving water, now in my local area there is no such thing that I've found. Now there is some moving bodies of water in Texas... but there are all at least 45min to 3 hours away for a quality river. There is a good warmwater stream close to me, that is said to be very fun and successful.... the problem is, I would be more comfortable going with someone who has fished it before. I couldn't imagine just trying to go there alone.

Now what I do have, is these:

Click the image to open in full size.

There are many of these "gully's, or creeks" The water visibility is very poor, but its my new goal to explore and find fish in these small bodies of moving water.

Recently I've been walking around searching (without my fly rod ) for fish activity, and occasionally within the small creeks there will be larger "Pools" and this is usually where I will small activity. I recently saw golden fins splashing around. I am hoping it could be a carp! but it may just be a catfish...

In fact, I took a short video of one of the "pools" one evening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEUlbmQeMbI

Look in the middle left of the screen, the video is slowed down you can see a fishing jumping out of the water. Along with that there is the ripples. Which if anyone could tell me more about them that would be great! Are they fishing sipping the top of the water for bugs? Or minnows jumping? I really am not sure, so if anyone had anymore information that would be great.

Thanks for the feedback, and for reading everyone!

-Luke
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Old 06-27-2014, 01:46 PM
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Luke

I am an experienced fly fisher but I am new to Texas and warm water species. I live in Porter and if you want to meet up and show me some spots I can certainly show you a few flyfishing techniques. Having said that, you seem to be doing pretty well by yourself!

Ian
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