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We Couldn’t stop at just flies. now carrying everything but the fish!

The Name Of The Games is BIG BASS

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I hate fishing reports!  Their absolutely worthless.  Just like weather forecasts, the only thing a fishing report tells you is what happened yesterday, which is usually the only part of their job a weather person can get right.  Telling you what happened yesterday.  Their good at that! 

If I believed every fishing report I've ever read, I probably would be living in my truck, out of work and out of money, having to be at the next best fishing spot.  On the flip side of that coin, if I never went fishing because of a bad report or bad fishing conditions, I probably never would have caught half of the fish that I have, or even have gone fishing at all.

Hence what happened Sunday.  If you read this, you would say to yourself, "why in the hell would I want to go there?"  That is exactly why we chose to go there.  Seeing as how it was a three-day weekend, and the other local area bass lakes were apparently fishing really well, we decided to go to Lake Hodges.  We knew we would have the place to ourselves.  And we were right, well, mostly.   

After spending the first few hours searching the flats for carp and coming up empty, Kory suggested we go Bass fishing.  It didn't take much convincing, as there's no reason to ever beat a dead horse.   

Upon arrival at our very first bass spot, we noticed a ton of shad in the water hovering over a submerged rocky point.  Within 2 minutes of our first casts being made, the first fish was brought to hand.  They were there and eating.  A few casts later I came tight, real tight!  Fishing with an 8wt rod, 20lb tippet, and a fuzzabou shad, I hooked a fish I could not stop.  The next thing I knew, the fish had wrapped me up in the sticks.  After some very careful boat  maneuvering, and a fine net job by Kory, the big girl was brought to hand.  Exactly 6 lbs on the boga grip.  A trophy from a bastard of a lake to catch fish.  Especially on the fly.  But that's why we fish there, every cast represents a shot for a trophy caliber bucket mouth. 

A few more for fish were brought to hand from that spot, and once again all was right with the world.  And as if we didn't already experience enough excitement, we were treated to the rare sight of a bobcat out wondering around in the middle of the day. Wild Bobcat California Lake Hodges

(Notice the Tiger like stripes on the back legs)  Really cool to see.  Just goes to show you how accurate fishing reports can be.  Like you always hear fishing guides say, "You should have been here yesterday."  Well, I'm glad I wasn't.  I'm glad I was here today.

Lake Barrett Bass Opens for Fishing

Lake Barrett Fly Fishing Opener Bass & BlueGill

Saturday was the opener for one of the best bass fishing lakes in Southern California, Lake Barrett.  Maybe one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country.  It has a pure strain of Northern Black Bass that love to eat anything that swims, flies, or crawls.  This is the one place where fishing is, well, ........easy!  But getting an opportunity to fish this lake is anything but.

   In order to fish here, you must be one of the very fortunate ones to acquire a ticket thru ticketmaster.  This can be like trying to get front row seats when Jay Z comes to town.  It's pretty much safe to say, that if you don't click "purchase now" at exactly 12:01am, you can forget about fishing here.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but after all, it is California.
 
 Eric Warner, a photographer who shoots for the Drake Magazine and Fly Fish Journal, was one of the lucky ones to score tickets to this amazing fishery.  He invited one his buddies, Nick, and myself to come spend the day with him fishing and documenting the journey of the trip.
 
 When the gates opened at 5am, there was a mad dash to the boat dock for the closest available rental boat.  After getting all the gear loaded into the boat, we made our way as fast as you can in a boat with an 8 horsepower motor, to the very first cove we found with a rocky shoreline and the wind blowing into it.  Immediately upon arrival, we could see the bass pushing shad literally up onto the shoreline.  It was so intense that a foam line started to form from where all the mayhem was taking place.  In less than 5 casts, the first fish was brought to the boat.  That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day.  Although we caught way too many fish to count, there was still a certain way you had to feed them.  Since the bass had the shad pinned along the shoreline, your fly had to be placed on dry land, then stripped back into the stick-ups where the bass were waiting in ambush.  That was a distance of only about 3 feet from the bank.  After that, it was pick up and cast again.  Only if you didn't loose your fly in the bushes, or to a fish that wrapped himself and the leader like a snake around the bushes. Flies that represented sunfish and shad with a weed guard attached to them, were the only thing necessary.  
   
At about high noon, when it was close to 100 degrees, and without a breath of wind, the fast and furious action came to halt.  We decided to break out the spinning rods and bobbers, and relive our childhood memories, by catching the very first fish that got us into this sport.  That's something that is truly sentimental to me, and I will never forget my roots.  We continued to fish for a few more hours, catching some of the biggest panfish that exist on this planet.
Pan Fish San Diego Fishing
   All in all, it was a truly remarkable day.  We might not have won the lottery, but at least we got the ticket! 

(all photos by Eric Warner) Check out more info on the fishery at - SDfish
Lake Barret Fishing report Opener

Dirty Mends and Sound Bodies

It's that time of the year again.  As we speak, thousands of anglers are already migrating to their favorite flats fishing destinations.  Before they go, they always make sure they have their rods, reels, lightweight clothes, and more flies than they can ever use in a lifetime.  But the one thing that is always overlooked though is, how good of shape are they in?
  

Sound stupid?  When's the last time you've fished on a small boat, from sun up to sun down in 90 degree weather, while basically having to balance on a skateboard all day?  Add in a couple dozen casts into a 25mph headwind, pulling back on some hard fighting fish, and suffering from too many beers the night before, and you'll be saying "uncle" faster than you can ever imagine.  

For those of us who aren't built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, there are a few things you can do to prepare for this fatigue well before your trip.  Start by hitting the gym.  We're not going to preach about health and fitness here, but lifting a few weights and running on the treadmill will go a hell of a long way when battling a 100 lb tarpon.  For those of you here in SD you should have spent all winter getting shacked by epic surf and  already be an argonaught.  Also, the next time the wind is howling outside, take your favorite 8, 10, or 12 weight rod, and go practice casting in it.  Take shots not only into it, but practice casting with it coming over both your left and right shoulder.  You also always hear about how you have to make a cast at 80 or 100 feet without flinching, and while this can sometimes be true, you also need to have the ability to make a fly land in a hat at less than 10 feet away.  Sound easy?  Try it sometime!  I have been on many flats fishing trips where there is absolutely no light to see and the wind is blowing so hard, that you don't even see fish until their practically right underneath the boat.  It's just like playing golf.....the short game can make all the difference.

And as far as drinking too much the night before, well, we can't help you there.  Just remember to tip your bartender!

Checkout out our Saltwater Patterns.

Cracking the Egg

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Easter Sunday. Finally the egg cracked! That dirty son of a gun Lake Hodges finally let up! The bass were chasing shad, and the carp were waving their tails in the air as if to say hello. Life finally returned to a place that has been relatively lifeless. And we were there. I knew we would be! That's what happens when you're too stupid to quit. Eventually you will be rewarded. You just have to take your licks along the way. After all, that's what the journey is all about. Trying to figure it out.  ~ Capt John

As so many times in the past...all it took was a little magic from a San Juan Worm

Lake Hodges Report Bass & Carp - Mid April

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Fished Lake Hodges Sunday.  Bass fishing was generally slow around the lake after a hard Ford Tourney the day before. 

Side note: First day out on the fresh water with my new S4S 7wt,.....what a great caster and meticulously constructed rod.  This is really just an ideal San Diego oriented rod.  It's diversity to hit the carp and bass and run out on the bay or surfcast is already making it one of my favorites in the quiver because I can keep one rod in my car and be able to decide to do about anything here on a moments notice.

One good bass and a huge crappie between the group.  I think the weather may have messed with the fish a bit with the sudden colder temps coupled with dropped water levels...not many fish were in the boat the day prior as well.  It should happen soon.  This week's warmer temps on the way and the seasonality when things are as good as they get, will change things for the better..  Carp were every where.  The water was off-color and hook ups were a struggle, but the fish were present in droves and cleaner water with the warm up should improve the bite as well.  Headed back soon to make sure nothing is missed. - Kory 

Check out more info on the lake here

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