The language of fly fishing

We’ve talked about this before … you and I. For obvious reasons, I spend a vast amount of the year noodling around the rural regions of the country. I mean, let’s face it, that’s where the country is; that’s where the outdoors is; and that’s where the fishing and hunting opportunities lie.

But perhaps you’ll forgive a slight detour in the sporting road this week – a trip to town. In any case, every now and then even a sportsman – particularly a sportsman – needs to shake off his boots and come into town, put on a coat and tie, eat in a restaurant and walk on some pavement. Well, maybe we can forget that part about the coat and tie. Fellow needs to do that every once in a while.

Had a couple of guys back me into a corner this week and talk about fly fishing. Now that’s a “language” I understand. We talked about fly fishing, fly tying, fly lines and this and that. Chip Hildebrand even had a recent photo of a large trout he’d caught on a fly rig.

Sad but true, I have three fishing vests – I only need one. And I have hundreds of flies – wet and dry – but only use about four: a Coachman, McGingy (looks like a black and yellow bumblebee), a Royal Coachman, Woolly Worm and maybe a Black Gnat. Once in a great while I’ll tie on a Muddler Minnow or a White Muddler … they seem to be the right ticket for most of my trout and panfish. Although I have to confess, when I’m out in Colorado and Wyoming, I like to use a streamer fly of some variety – not necessarily because they catch fish, but because they’re pretty and look good, especially the old Mickey Finn.

This fly fishing thing gets under your skin. It just eats away at you and it’s very rewarding and a fun way to fish.

I was talking to Jerry Malloy the other afternoon at the American Legion open house about this fly-fishing thing. Jerry’s a died-in-the-wool fly fisherman, and a top-notch fly tier – one of the best.

Several years ago, he gave me a White River plastic box full of Nymphs and Midge flies. Must have been several hundred in that box. A Midge fly is so small that 6 to 7 of them won’t even cover your thumbnail. The hooks on these flies are so small it almost requires a magnifying glass to see them. Long story short – it took me a while to figure out how to use them. Now I fly fish with them all the time when I go to Colorado and fish the Gunnison or the Big Thompson Rivers. The rivers out there are so clear, so cold and so swift and the trout so spooky that those tiny midge flies are about the only thing that’ll catch trout.

Eagle watch

Snowmobilers traveling up the Boone River to Goldfield are telling me that every so often they come to open water, and above open water (In the tree-tops) they nearly always see bald eagles perched out on the tree limbs. Five or six groups of eagles are seen on nearly every trip up the river. That seems to be the key to finding bald eagles. Find open water and you’ll see eagles. Basically, they’re fish-eaters. However, they’ll often be seen eating on the dead carcass of a deer or other animal. I’m Still seeing several eagles in the Nokomis Park area, especially in the early morning.

It never fails – all day long the winds howled and the temperatures dropped, so the other evening just at sundown, I decided to take a little joy ride around town, as I often do, driving with one hand and drinking a cup of coffee with the other hand, enjoying the drive. All of a sudden, 14 deer ran out in front of me out there in the northeast corner of Webster City’s Oak Park addition. They didn’t appear to be too concerned, they just took their time and ambled across the street in front of me and headed off into the nearby woods.

Devils Lake fishing

No word yet from the guys who went up north to fish. Arlin Dickinson and some of the local guys went up to Devils Lake, North Dakota. Should be interesting. For years and years, year-in and year-out, Devils Lake has been a premier yellow perch lake. In the old days, trainloads of fishermen and their families out of Chicago used to go to Devils Lake. It was that good. I’ve never been there, but the folks who have talked to me about it have always had high praise for it. It’s been on my bucket list for some time. Years ago, I used to see photos of anglers standing shoulder-shoulder along the shoreline fishing for yellow perch.

Tell you what, when it comes to a good eating fish, I’ll take a yellow perch any day. In my younger days, our family used to make the long drive up to Leech Lake, Minn. We’d spend a week up there, fishing for anything that would bite, take our bait or lure – usually yellow perch. In those days, the lure of choice on spin-casting gear was the old banana baits like the Lazy Ike, Brooks Reefer, Bena Eel, Helin Flatfish or Humpy with a tiny piece of worm affixed to the rear treble hooks … real perch getters.

Semper Fi.

And now … have a good weekend.