CTF Reel Logo Casts and Drifts
Monthly Newsletter of the Central Texas Flyfishers September, 2001 Vol. 7 No. 9

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Tuesday, September 11, 2001
CTF Meeting at Lion's Club Pavilion, City Park in San Marcos, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Fourth Tuesday Fly Tying, Tickle-Blagg Veterinary Clinic, San Marcos, 7:00 P.M.


President: Terry Blackwell
Vice President: Joel Chavez
Conservation: Billy Wofford
Outings: Kevin Duren & Johnny Quiroz II
Secretary: Kim Heaston
Treasurer: Bob Blagg

Clip Art from Dave Whitlock

Oklahoma! Different Views from Justin and Kory

Well we are back from a long and short weekend. Long because we got so little sleep. Short because it wasn't long enough to fish much of the places we could have.

Friday the trip up was very pleasant... driving on highways we've never been down before. We arrived at Sid Ingram's fly shop on the river and exchanged chitchat with him for close to an hour. Ate lunch at the restaurant in the park and then set up the tent. A quick drive around the park to get our bearings and then we geared up and hit the spillway creek where it crosses the road.

Upstream, just above where the first footbridge crosses the creek, I had a really nice brown follow my caddis, but it didn't quite take it. The rocks were incredibly slippery as we were warned. My wife tempted them a little too much and they rewarded her with a cold late afternoon dip. Got some nice video of some of the scenery, but we didn't hook up with a single fish. Back to camp for some dinner and we fished the calmer water next to our camp. This is where Tabitha caught our first and only fish of the day... a little perch.

Anticipating the early morning, we hit the sack around 9 to a symphony of tree frogs and crickets. Funny how you can sleep through that racket but can't sleep with just one cricket in your house.

5:00 alarm went off and we drug ourselves to the bathrooms. 5:45 we pulled in to the first footbridge with hopes set high. It was around 6:30 when Tabitha pulled her first ever rainbow out of the water. She was all grins and I raced back to the car to get the video camera. Inhaled some gnats on the way back, but got some great pics. I was headed back across the footbridge when she whooped again and I turned to film her landing her 2nd rainbow.

That proved to be all of the trout action for the entire weekend. I don't know why. I was fishing all the right flies all the right ways, but never got a hookup. Later that morning I did have a really nice rainbow follow and strike at my hopper, but I missed the hookup and it wouldn't be fooled again.

The three others from our group showed up about this time and had reported 1 fish each from the first footbridge area. Nothing really special, but fish nonetheless. I'll let them tell their own story. We saw them again after lunch briefly but that was it. It's hard to fish one person on that creek... no way to fit five people next to each other there. Our phones wouldn't work so we couldn't even contact them.

Tabitha and I went back to camp for some breakfast around 10:00. Decided to rent a canoe and drift the river bend to see what we could do. It was 12:00 noon when we started. Saw some fish and caught a few perch, but nothing of any size. At one place deep in the cypress we came across an enormous black bass... had to be 10 lbs. or more. It was a site to see, but it was already spooked. Also saw the largest spotted gar I'd ever seen. I don't even want to guess how much it weighed, but I'd say well over 75 pounds.

After the float we waded a few other spots and caught plenty more perch, but we just couldn't find the big fish. We broke for our dinner.

Went to the river below the last bridge but above the powerhouse and hooked into some really small bass and plenty more perch. Looked like really good water and we decided we'd hit it the next morning.

We slept in a little and hit the water just before sunrise. There was no visible hatch and just a few surface ripples now and then. We had a hard time of it and ended up catching a few more perch. I had one take that I think was a trout, but my tippet broke on the hook set. It was just a hard morning.

Packed it all up and left the park around 12:30 for the long trip home. It was a nice trip with absolutely beautiful scenery. We saw many, many deer and squirrels and were visited by the raccoons a couple of times each night. We'll be back there again better armed with knowledge and experience. Maybe even with a local who can tell us what we did wrong.


Clip Art from Dave Whitlock

Well, I actually have to say that last weekend was the best trip I have ever had to the Lower Mountain Fork River. I have fished there four other times and I was actually skunked the first two times. I also have used all the right flies in the right places and with the right presentations. Results from those trips produced lots of tiredness and sore arms from casting 12 hours straight.

This weekend had been the exception for me. I caught probably 45 fish for Saturday and Sunday combined, not counting the fish I played and got off before coming to hand. Saturday's fish was a 14-inch gorgeous brown, with a very distinct color that I caught in Spillway creek about 2 miles upriver. I fished this hole for an hour and a half with every local fly I knew of, then I finally switched to a size 8 black wooly bugger and landed the trout on my first cast with it. I figured that the trout had to eat, but they weren't eating bugs right then, so I tied on a bigger food fly. I finished hiking the other mile of river to the road and back to the truck, another 2.25 miles. Definitely exhausted from the hike and walk on the road to the truck. The afternoon ended at 3:00 p.m., time to break to check into the motel and get some grub.

At 5:00 p.m. we returned to the river. We fished at The Evening Hole, which had been overrun by tubers during the day. I tend to favor fishing fast water, so some of this area fished well for me. I caught 17 stocked rainbows and 3 browns by dark. I even caught a 20-inch brown under the bridge. I couldn't believe that a fish that big was up in the knee-deep water! I used a two fly combination all weekend, which produced the most fish that I have ever caught on that river. I tied on a size 14 Royal Wulff on 5x tippet and the tied another 24-inch piece of tippet to the eye of the hook and put an olive bead head hares ear on the end of that. I even got to experience my first midge hatch, millions of tiny black specks swarming above me, landing on my clothes and arms, tickling my ears. About 5 minutes before absolute dark another hatch went off, but I couldn't tell what they were. They were landing all over me crawling around on me, so it seemed. Turns out that these bugs were the kind that bit. I pulled out my flashlight, BINGO- mosquitoes!!! Time to go back to the motel. I'd had a very rewarding evening anyhow.

The next morning we arose to the phone ringing, 5 am, no-one knew where it was, finally after getting over the disorientation, we answered and loaded up to head down to zone 2 where Presbyterian Falls is known for its large fish. Armed with my 3 wt we parked and put on our wading boots and vest and headed down as far as I could stand to walk then entered the river, crossed to the right side and began fishing a deep run that emptied into a deep hole. I immediately had 6 strikes that I missed and then finally landed two stocked rainbows about 12 inches each. Then I hung into a brown that was larger than the one the night before, which measured at 20 inches, this fish ran upstream into the head of the run. I turned him, but he wasn't done, back downstream, the three wt. straining to hold the fish (4x tippet was a good decision this morning). I decided to turn him into the slack water to bring him to hand and he made one more run, underneath a huge log and he pulled. I let him take line until I could get free, had to dive in the water to run my rod underneath the log, by then he had pulled free. This brown was definitely over 20-25 inches. I have landed 23 inch browns before on this rod on the Little Red River, so I know he was huge, I only saw him once when he jumped out of the water to take my dry fly. Bad part was that I know that the log was there, I just didn't realize that he'd make another run, the hole was shot after that, fished it another 45 minutes, not another bite. Oh well, he'll be there next time I return.

We returned to town at 11am in time to check out of the motel and then went back to the Evening Hole to try our luck one more time until 3:00 p.m. We each caught 4 fish and headed home just as the rain hit. We all waded wet each day, really made the afternoon sun pleasant.

I will be returning the first weekend of October to fish again and run the river in my kayak, but the fishing really gets good in late November and December on into January. The more inclement the weather is the better. I can't wait to go back, lucky for me it is only 3.5 hours of driving. But you guys got the Guadalupe, right? Thanks to Michael for letting us use his vehicle and driving the whole way. Glad he could come. If anyone wants to go before October, shoot me an email, I'd love to tag along. Maybe we could find the fish again.


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Clip Art from Dave Whitlock

Ubiquitous Mike Reports on the [not so] Impromptu California Trip: Part One

Being from southern California, I always looked forward to adventuring into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in the northern part of the Golden State. This time the journey originated from central Texas, I traveled with Angela Arciniega, Billy Wofford, Johnny Quiroz II, Marcus Rodriguez, and Matt Jennings. For Angela, Johnny and Marcus, it was their first visit to the Sierras, a memorable one at that.

The air travel was uneventful, arriving in Sacramento a few minutes ahead of schedule. The rental trucks, Ford Rangers, were adequate in many ways if you don't count quality of construction and maintenance (I can say now that I wouldn't own one if someone gave me one). From the airport we traveled to Bill Kiene's Fly Shop (Sacramento needs to work on street numbering), where we spent quite a bit of time. The shop has almost everything you need as a fly fisher, and the special added bonus of genuinely nice staff. We bought a few flies and leaders and headed out I-80 to Truckee for dinner, groceries, and supplies. A note about grocery shopping, Safeway isn't cheap, and more or less requires you to have a club card to pay halfway reasonable prices. We arrived at the cabin sometime after 10:00 p.m., and quickly got settled in for the night. So much for the minutiae of the first day...

Friday morning arrived, Matt, Billy and I took a walk around Johnsville, the historic mining town where we stayed. We later headed down to fish the Middle Fork of the Feather River at a place called Two Rivers. This section of the river is a series of runs and riffles (pocket water). The fish tended to hold in the pocketwater or behind the large midstream boulders. We caught a few fish on drys and a couple on wooly buggers.

It's amazing how far down-stream you can work, without realizing it. The walk back to the vehicles was nearly a mile, thankfully, the railroad tracks had a dirt road along side them.

After a lunch of egg sandwiches on sourdough, Billy decided to take a break from the fishing and spend some quiet time alone.

The rest of us headed down the trail to Jamison Creek to see and fish the old swimming hole. Marcus and I were sitting on a large granite outcropping 15 feet above the streambed, suddenly we were shifted a good half foot downstream and back. I told Marcus that we just had a small earthquake. The folks in the river didn't feel it much due to the stream flow.

A couple fish were caught in the pool, including Angela's first ever trout (a brookie), we saw more than were caught. Undaunted by the earthquake we headed upstream, Johnny, of course, ran ahead, and caught a fish in a very deep pool. Scram-bling over the rocks takes a bit of planning, to safely get from one place to another, and can take a lot out of you, nonetheless it's also very fun. Matt showed Marcus how to fish pocketwater and soon both were catching fish out of small pockets, it's amazing how a decent-sized trout can live in a place scarcely bigger than itself. Marcus caught a good number of fish from 4 inches to 12 inches, Matt caught a few less.

We returned to the cabin, and checked with Billy to see how his Earth shaking experience was... thankfully, there was no damage to either Billy or the Cabin.

Dinner consisted of spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. It was quite tasty. After dinner we went to fish a different stretch of the Feather River. We later found out the only thing rising there were small chubs. Johnny even caught a couple. We stopped on the way back at the Jamison Creek Bridge where Billy caught a couple small trout in short order. Thus concluded our fishing adventure for the day.

We unwound by sitting on the porch watching the night sky for shooting stars and telling stories.. one of which was to have an impact later that night.

I think I have things in the right order... so after two days we were having a bit of fun away from the hot, humid environment of central Texas.

To be continued...


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Pheasant Tail Nymph

Comments by Jim Abbs

Early fly fishing in America was influenced very significantly by English traditions, particularly before 1920. Today, America has its own flies, techniques and equipment, much of it developed on this side of the big pond. However, some English traditions still have a tremendous influence. One of these is the work of George Edward MacKenzie Skues, a solitary bachelor lawyer and master of the famous River Itchen, in the Hampshires of Southern England.

Between 1900 and 1939, Skues wrote dozens of articles for British fishing magazines as well as several influential books, almost exclusively on fishing for trout with nymphs. American fly anglers still read Skues for insights and inspiration.

Skues successor as a leader in nymph fishing also was an Englishman, Avon River Keeper Frank Sawyer, who himself wrote widely and developed several very effective nymph patterns. If Skues is the grandfather of modern nymph fishing, Frank Sawyer is the father. Sawyer's most famous and widely heralded fly is the Pheasant Tail (P.T.) nymph.

Today the simple, yet elegant P.T. nymph is a must for any angler wishing to imitate mayfly nymphs and it works from the chalkstreams of Pennsylvania to the freestone rivers and tailwaters of the American west. One of the most striking aspects of this fly is that it is tied exclusively of ring-neck pheasant tail and copper wire. If it is tied correctly, and with smaller hook sizes, only one bunch of pheasant tail fibers is used in the whole fly! Importantly, the Pheasant Tail Nymph is easy to tie in a wide range of sizes, from 10-18, illustrating the range of mayflies it imitates.

There are several variations on this pattern, by both American and English fly anglers. Many American fly tiers add legs to the fly, including Al Troth, Ed Zern, and Eric Leiser--- these were not part of Sawyer's original pattern. Another variation is that of hook length. Sawyer tied this on a standard length hook, while some American tiers recommend a hook that is 1X long. In England Arthur Cove modified the Pheasant Tail Nymph for fishing that country's reservoirs by adding a gold body rib and a rabbit fur thorax. This latter fly is called Cove's Pheasant Tail.

Sawyer tied this fly using copper wire rather than thread. The pattern described below uses thread and copper wire, as described by English fly tier and author Mike Dawes in his book, The Flytier's Manual. Finally, Sawyer used copper wire to form the bulk of the thorax, with a pheasant tail overlay to form a wing case. While this wire ball thorax is not a standard in America's PT nymphs, it is true to Sawyer's original and included in the pattern described here.

To document the effective-ness of this pattern, let me pass along a story from Gary Borger, (reported in his book Nymphs). Gary noted that in 1973 he received Frank Sawyer's book for his birthday and from it tied some P.T. nymphs for use on a Montana spring creek. In his first experience with this fly, he caught 27 fish in 100 feet of stream in 2 hours, all between 1 and 3.5 pounds.

While I make no promises, this anecdote illustrates why you need to add this fly to your nymph selection, if you have not already done so. In American waters, this nymph imitates a number of mayfly nymphs using pheasant tail fibers in their natural color and many small nymphs if one uses pheasant tail that is dyed olive yellow or olive.

HOOK: Mustad 3906 (or 3906B-1X long), sizes 10-18
TAIL: 3-8 fibers from the tail of a cock ring-neck pheasant (Sawyer recommends 4)
BODY: Fibers from center tail of cock ring-necked pheasant twisted with copper wire
THORAX: A wound-on ball of copper wire
WING CASE: Fibers from pheasant tail
HEAD: Fine copper wire


  1. Using fine copper wire (.005 says Al Troth- about 34-36 gauge), form a ball about occupying 1/5 of the hook shank, back from the eye.

  2. Wrap tying thread at the bend of the hook and tie in tips of tail feather fibers to form the tail of the fly. Fiber tips should extend one hook gap width past the bend. Do not trim butt ends of tail feather fibers.

  3. Tie in a length of the same fine copper wire at the bend and remove thread.

  4. Twist the copper wire and pheasant tail fibers together and wrap up toward the eye of the hook up to the start of the wire ball.

  5. Tie in an additional bunch of pheasant tail fibers for a wing case. Alternatively, if the fibers used for the tail and body are sufficient these can be used for the wing case.

  6. Wrap the fine wire forward to the point in front of the copper ball.

  7. Bring the pheasant tail fibers forward over the copper wire ball to form a wing case and tie off with the copper wire.

  8. Finish the fly with thread for the head, or as Sawyer recommends, tie off with copper wire.

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