July 27, 2021

Fishing For Trout? Check your Water Temperature First.

I carry a thermometer with me when I fish, but most of the time I don't feel that I need to use it. However, this summer I have been using it faithfully, as we are having a record drought in the west. The drought is causing not only very low water levels, but also record water high temperatures. 

Most reputable sources say that water temperatures above 65 degree F (18C) will greatly increase trout death. So, I personally practice this rule: if I find the water temperature to be above 65 degrees F, then I don't fish that water. The only way you will be able to tell what the water temperature is, is by using a thermometer. Don't rely on your hand to tell you what the temp is, please use a thermometer. 

Water temperatures here in the west are so bad, that Yellowstone National Park has put a fishing ban on streams and rivers parkwide after 2PM. This rule is in affect until further notice by the park service. Yellowstone has some of the most pristine cold water riverine habitat in the lower 48 states, so if they are banning fishing, then all the rest of us ought to be paying attention to our waters. If we fish the high elevations of Colorado, the lower elevations of Appalachia, or even previously safe tailwaters, let's all be good trout stewards and check the water temperature first. Don't assume your waters are safe! Please check the temp.

We live in crazy times!

July 18, 2021

Small Brook Trout - June 1, 2021


I don't usually seek out brook trout, but sometimes they seek you out. 

July 15, 2021

Sunglasses, Revisited

I've recently fielded some questions regarding what type of sunglasses I use in my daily fishing. Instead writing an answer, I'll repost what I published five years ago, as it is still applicable today. I'll add any updates in bold/italics. The following information was published on February 2, 2016:

Most all fly anglers know that one essential stream side tool is polarized sun glasses. But to us tenkara anglers sun glasses are critical. Not only do they increase your ability to see into the stream, to detect fish and to see the bottom better (if you are wading), but they also allow you to see the line better.

In level line tenkara all of the line is off the water's surface. This is what makes tenkara so effective. Without this fundamental concept, tenkara is just fly fishing without a reel. Keeping the line off the water allows the tenkara angler to direct the fly around obstacles, adjust for stream currents, and detect subtle subsurface takes with more efficiency than traditional "line on the water" fly fishing. Essentially, keeping the line off the water allows the tenkara angler to achieve that "holy grail" of fly fishing, the drag free drift.

But to keep the line off the water you must have a light line. Monofilament nylon is (generally) too light to cast, unless it's a tapered line like a Midi, Soft Tenkara, or Fujiino Tenkara line. Because of this, fluorocarbon level lines have been the tenkara anglers line of choice. But to effectively keep the line off the water, especially of you fish upstream, like I do, you must use a lighter gauge line like #2.5 or #3.

Light lines work great at keeping the line off the water, but the smaller the line diameter the more difficult it can be to see the line -- even if the line if blazing orange! A #2.5 level line can be exponentially harder to see than a #3.5 line.

To help my tired old eyes see the takes better, I use a sighter, a 6-8 inch section (not 3 feet as mentioned in Jason's article) of contrasting colored nylon (Amnesia). This gives me a focus point and, at least I'm convinced, helps me miss far fewer fish. But even a #2.5-3 orange level line with green sighter is difficult for me to see, particularly if the line is longer than 9 feet. (I use a #3 level line almost exclusively now. I don't use a #2.5 line anymore)

Enter polarized sunglasses. I have found that wearing polarized sunglasses increases my ability to see the sighter. But more important than sunglasses alone are sunglasses with side shields. Light entering between my eye and the lens causes unwanted glare, and thus greatly reduces contrast. Adding side shields dramatically improves contrast and lets you see the line better -- just like wearing a hat does. Personally, since I wear corrective lenses I wear optical grade fit-over sunglasses. These surround my eyes and eliminate any stray light from entering at odd angles.

Another thing that helps me is the tint of the lens. Many sunglasses are grey or neutralizing. These are OK in full sun, but on overcast, foggy or rainy days they may actually make seeing your line more difficult.  So, if its overcast, raining or the like, I have found that amber or yellow polarized lenses bring my line out of the background much better than grey scale lenses. The line I use is orange and the sighter is green; amber or yellow lenses makes the orange line color "pop". They also help accentuate the green sighter.

So, here's what helps me see my line:
     1) always wear a hat (I wear a long bill baseball-type hat with dark under brim)
     2) side shields (or wrap around frames) help improve contrast and reduce lens glare
     3) polarized lenses are a must
     4) amber or yellow tint help you to see orange fluorocarbon level lines.

2021 Update: I wear yellow or light amber polarized lenses all the time while fishing, rain or shine. These lenses dramatically help me see my line and detect takes. 

June 27, 2021

Small Washington Rainbows - May 10, 2021

 I fish a desert stream in Washington State for rainbow trout. The stream is an ephemeral stream and is known for nice sized rainbows. I have fished it before with success in catching larger fish, but at that time the sky was cloudy and is was raining. On this outing I only caught rainbows up to 11 inches. I think this was in part due to the sunny and challenging conditions. Still, it was great fun!