Saturday, September 27, 2014

No Shoulders

Today was a beautiful day to sit out on the back porch and tie flies. This fly should work good on the largemouth bass. It has alot of steps, but I think over all it is a pretty simple fly to tie. It is and should be fished very similarly to a Texas rigged worm.

No Shoulders

Start off with a 2/0 gammy worm hook. Tie in some 1/4" black/chartreuse I-Balz under the hook shank, up next to the 90 degree bend. 
Next tie in some flash. I picked up some new age holo flash from Orvis the other day and I really like this stuff. You want the flash to be the length you plan on making this fly. 5-7 inches should work. 

You'll make a weed guard out of 60lb wire. This wire will also give the bunny strip some rigidity when the fly is wet.

Take about 8" and bend it in half. By leaving one end about an inch longer then the other it will make threading the bunny strip onto the wire easier. Take the wire and tie it on top of the hook shank, right on top of the eyes and flash you already tied in.

Take a 6-8" bunny strip. These need to be magnum (1/4") or Texas (3/8") sized strips. Not many shops will carry the Texas size bunny strips, but Bears Den does.

Start at the end of the bunny strip that you are going to tie down onto the shank of the hook. Punch 2 holes on the outside edges of the strip. Go down about a quarter of an inch and do the same. Then go down past the bend of the hook and punch 2 more holes. You should have a total of 6 holes.

Now thread the wire through the holes that you punched. Start skin side and make sure the right wire goes in the right side hole and the left wire into the left side hole. You want the hook to sit between both wires. Then go ahead and pull the strip all the way down the wire and prepare to tie it to the hook shank.

I tie the bunny strip down with an x pattern, the same tie down technique you used to secure the eyes. Make sure the wire is exiting the fur side. you can see the wire sticking out the back behind the hook shank. 

Now flip the fly over and pull the flash out of the way. Add a line of goop where the wire first begins on the skin side and continue about a half to one inch past the hook shank. The goop will hold the bunny strip to the wire, it will also add some rigidity to the body portion of the fly. By extending the goop past the hook shank it will act as a tail loop and keep the bunny strip from fouling around the hook shank. You can set the fly aside and start another one while the glue dries. Typically it just takes 10-15 minutes for it to dry. During the winter it may take longer.

Now that the glue is dry, take a knife or a razor blade and cut a small slit through the glue and between the wire. The slit just needs to be slightly past the hook point and hook bend. This is going to allow the bunny strip to move down and out of the way for good hook sets. Notice how when a fish bites down on the fly the hook point will be exposed. You will also want to cut the excess wire that is on the fur side sticking out past the hook shank. i cut it down to about a quarter of an inch.

The last step will be to finish the head of the fly off with some Senyo's laser dub.

Take a tooth brush and comb it back and into place. 

This step is optional but I like to do it. Take a craft brush and paint some Liquid Fusion onto the head of the fly. I think it makes the laser dub a little more durable. 

No Shoulders

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Alaska: Recap

After a full day of travel to get back to Dallas I had a lot of time to reflect on the trip. First I'd like to thank my wife for always giving me the freedom to pursue my fishing passion. I am very grateful to have such a great wife and mother to our daughter in my life.

The whole trip was great and I would like to thank the whole Midnight Sun crew for putting together such a great trip and doing whatever it took to make sure their customers have a trip of a lifetime. I would say I was probably their easiest customer this year, haha. The accommodation, the meals, the scenery and the fishing were all superb. If you are a pike fisherman you defiantly owe it to yourself to check out Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures. This trip was by far the best freshwater trip I have ever been on. If you have never had the opportunity to chase pike you should take a serious look into it because they are a great game fish. They hit a fly with such tenacity that a lot of times we would get them to the boat and they weren't even hooked, they just had a gator hold on your fly and would't let go. The whole trip, from getting to the lodge, the wildlife, the crew is what made this experience a trip I will never forget.

Before Pike

After Pike

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Alaska: Day 5

Today was the last day of fishing and what a great way to end the trip. The first fish of the day was a nice 41" pike. The morning was kinda sporadic with pockets of fish being caught here and there. Towards the end of the day we found the mother load. Its kinda sad when your purposely not setting the hook on fish you think are below mid 30". We were catching fish left and right weeding out the small fish in hopes of hooking something huge. I think the biggest fish we caught today was 43-44". The best fish of the trip and year for Midnight Sun was caught in another boat today. They were throwing lures and that fish taped out to 52". What an unbelievable fish, wish I could have seen it in person. Just to put things into perspective. Studies show that it takes 20 years for these fish to reach 40" in this area, then they grow at an average rate of 1 inch per year after that. So a 45" inch fish is roughly 25 years old. That 52" was 32 years old. What an incredible fish.  

Very rare markings on this Pike.
Beautiful none the less. 

Nice fish.

And another nice fish from the day. 

These fish were logs. 

A big bull spotted in the back lake. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Alaska: Day 4

I fished with Scott Rowekamp and the fishing picked back up today. Early in the morning the fish where active but not really turned on. They would come up and hit our flies but not really take them. I had several nice fish, fish that would have probably been my best fish of the trip, come up and swipe my fly only to shake loose. Towards the end of the day the fish really turned on and we tore them up in a small slough off the main river.   A pike's head is covered with little holes or pores, containing sensors, which act in conjunction with the lateral line to pick up vibrations. Although pike are primarily sight feeders, they can also use their lateral line and head sensors to hone in on the vibrations sent out by prey. A blind pike can continue to not only survive but thrive making them truly efficient and adaptable predators. The tail area of a pike is quite unlike most other fish in that the dorsal fin, caudal fin and anal fin are all grouped together at the rear of the body. This cluster of fins gives massive thrust and allows tremendous straight-line acceleration, over a short distance from a standing start. This speed allows it to strike at prey from a considerable distance away. The speed of a pike has yet to be measured scientifically but observations have been made of large pike striking at up to roughly 60 mph!

Check out the holes/sensors on the top
of the pikes head. 

The Release

Winding up

Out'a Here

Scott with a nice fish he helped me land. 

Head Shots

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Alaska: Day 3

Today we started of chasing some sheefish. These fish somehow got the reputation of being the tarpon of the north. Ya, not sure how that came about. There a cool fish and I was glad to catch a few of them. When hooked they just kinda wallow and thrash around on the surface. Not much of a fight regarding them taking line or jumping. They are good eating and we fried a few up for dinner. After that we made another long run looking for pike. The fishing was pretty slow today. The wind was high and the fish seemed to be laying on the bottom sulking. We caught a few fish, but nothing to rite home about. But that is how it goes, its fishing not grocery shopping. 

An average size Sheefish. 

Nice low 40" Pike.

This has been the average size Pike we have 
been catching, great fighting fish.

A couple moose spotted. 

Ben and I with a nice low 40" fish.

Evening Rainbow.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Alaska: Day 2

What a great day of fishing. The fish were mad today, they where hitting out flies with bad intentions. It wouldn't be an over estimate to say we boated 100 pike today with 15 fish over 40" not to mention a lot of very fat  mid 30 inch fish that fought like crazy. We fished close to the house boat today so no long boat rides and lots of time fishing. I brought 2 rods with me the TFO TICR X 9wt and the TFO Mini Mag 8-10wt. I was really liking the way the Mini Mag was handling these pike. One thing these fish do like to do is dive under the boat. It wasn't much of an issue until we decided to take the below picture. The fish flopped out of the hands of Ben and went straight under the boat. I didn't have enough line out and Ben was between me and the gunwale and I couldn't get the rod over the side of the boat. needless to say the rod snapped. Good thing TFO has a great warranty. The fishing was so good I hardly took any photos. We were catching fish hand over fist and the camera just didn't come out much.

Beautiful sunrise. 

Ben and I with a nice 43" fish. 

Bald Eagle.

 Not much left on this fly.

Typical scenery. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Alaska: Day 1

We made a 2 hour boat ride to one of the far lakes this morning. The winds were light so we had a smooth ride up river to the lakes we had planned to fish. The boat ride was a little chilly with the air temp being in the forties this morning. The fish didn't didn't mind and the fishing was great. We caught a lot of smaller pike in the 20 to low 30 inch range. I really have no idea how many fish we caught but they shredded several flies. Pike have 702 razor sharp teeth in their mouths and will tear flies up rather quickly. My big fish of the day was a nice 43” fish that took a red and yellow bucktail pattern. Doug caught the big fish of the day, a nice 47” fish that was as big around as your thigh. All in all I think we ended the day with 8 fish over the 40 inch mark. The fishing was very consistent with no real lags in the fishing. 

Action shot of Dougs 47" fish.

Love the under bite of these fish. 

A curious black bear. The wildlife doesn't
see much human traffic here.  

Check out the pectoral fins. 

Gator Pike 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Alaska: Camp

Alaska: Camp
I completed my first leg of the trip, spending the night in Anchorage for todays travel.  Another sleepless night filled with the anticipation of what tomorrow will bring. The next morning I headed back to the airport for my flight out to Aniak which is an hour and a half west of Anchorage. From Anaik I meet Scott Rowekamp and we flew to Holly Cross. We reached Holly Cross in about 30-40 minute. On the flight to Holly cross we spotted several moose and also buzzed the house boat we would be calling camp for the next 5 days of our trip. From Holly Cross we took an hour and a half boat ride to the house boat.

Once we got to the house boat we had a quick lunch and got our gear together for a few hours of fishing before the sunset below the horizon.  We fished a couple spots near camp and I landed my first pike, a nice low 30” fish.

It wasn't long after I got a 41” fish, these Northern Pike we all fat and healthy and full of fight. These fish aren't drag screamers, they are bulldog fighters and they will slug it out to the end.

The day ended with me missing a couple other fish. The fish really seemed to like the red and yellow flies that I tied tied up using Blane Chockletts big game shanks to make some articulated bucktail patterns.

Here is a tip. Use electrical tape and wrap around the ferrules. This keeps the ferrules from wiggling loss while casting all day. The electrical tape will not leave a sticky residue.