Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing

I hope you can peruse and enjoy this series on ‘the ultimate guide to fly fishing’. You may think you know it all…but I bet that if you take a minute and stroll through the pages you will find that there is some very useful information. If nothing else then pass along this well done article to some of your newbie fly fishing friends. For those of you who follow this blog then you know that I am a streamer guy-there is a very nice section on swinging flies…and for sure some useful info on set up and how to better think your way through the process. So, read, enjoy and pass along to others….

Fly Lure Selection

Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing

We are always attempting to improve and learn more about how to fly fish. Fly fishing techniques are varied with time tested and proven strategies combined with attempts at fooling fish using new ideas. Learn the basics, expand to learn advanced techniques and experiment along the way to form your own innovative style. There is always something new to learn and someone new to learn it from. If you are learning how to fly cast, the fly casting technique is best spent watching Capt Chris Myers video.  We have put together advanced techniques, location recommendation, fly tying and also gear tips as well. Click Here To Read More

A Smallmouth Welcome to 2018

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Welcome back to smallmouth fishing and 2018; it seems like I am about a month of more later than in the past several years….but as they say, “Better late than never”! As you follow along today I catch 3 decent fish. Frankly, 2018 has been a huge struggle, cold temps and too much rain has really put a damper on our season. As you may or may not know…smallies really are closer akin to trout than bass when it comes to water temps and thus far, in 2108, the temps have been way too low, causing the fish to stay in deeper holes…also causing them to be very sluggish in their approach to feeding.

In today’s video you can follow along as I fish a beautiful stream here in southern Indiana and hook up with a couple of very nice fish. I also will explain my set up; rod, line, leader and tippet to be exact. I get lots of questions throughout the year about set up; what I can tell you is that each person tends to like one feel over the other. Personally I like a short, stout leader that will turn over a larger fly and also allow me to yank a big fish, a smallmouth, up and out of trouble. As I allude to in the video…smallies aren’t leader shy like trout, so why not beef up your presentation a bit.

Either way….it has been very nice these past couple of weeks to be out and on the water. It was one of those long and dreary winters here in Indiana and just being out is a big boost to your spirits. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me at flyfishingwithjeff@gmail.com and I will be happy to help as best as I can in answering your questions.

Hatchery Creek – Wolf Creek Dam – Lake Cumberland

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Welcome back to 2018. Seems like it has been one of the longest winters in memory…but alas, over spring break, I was back at it again. I had read a few times about the new facility that had been built at the Wolf Creek Dam facility in southern Kentucky and decided to spend a few days checking things out.

If you don’t know or aren’t familiar Wolf Creek Dam sits at the bottom of Lake Cumberland. The lake itself is the largest man made lake east of The Mississippi River. All of this water was harnessed back in the 1930’s as a way of doing three things; preventing the inevitable floods, creating electricity and creating a recreational area that is quite frankly second to none. Wolf Creek Dam is like any other tail water in that the cold water (42 to 65 degrees) flows out from the bottom of the reservoir and by doing so provides the cool water needed to raise and propagate trout.
Lower Hatchery Creek SignThe folks at the facility took things a step further and they diverted enough water through the hatchery and down a man-made trout stream. At about a mile in length and probably an average of 40-50 feet in width…there is enough cool water provided year round to provide a nice trout stream. Hatchery Creek is basically a side-shoot of the Cumberland River and parallels the river, eventually rejoining it at a unique spot called the ‘staircase’.

This is a beautiful facility and the possibilities are limitless…in fact it is my hope that other states with such a facility will consider this as an option; guess time will tell. Now for a bit of reality. I was on the property for 2-3 hours three days in a row…and caught a total of 4 trout. If you have followed my site for a while then you will know that typically I am capable of significantly more. At this point I am going to give the stream a pass and won’t in fact pass judgement as the weather during my stay was not only cold, but we were under a large high pressure area. Lord knows trout are a fickle group on any given day or period of time!

I am not sure what the issue was as I can promise you that I tried every trick in my bag; yes, I even nymphed and high sticked for the better part of one afternoon…still no results. I didn’t see many trout; in fact the second and third days-I hardly saw any activity on the stream at any point. Now, this being said, you may have been there and done great. I hope in fact you have. As for me and chucking streamers…just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Sign for Wolf Creek National Fish HatcheryIf you do go…dead-head directly to the fish hatchery itself and visit the Visitors Center. The men and women there couldn’t have been any nicer! They were able to hook me up with a license ($50 for non-resident annual…plus a $10 dollar trout stamp) and give me directions and info about the stream. The Visitor’s Center also has lots to do; old photos, wildlife exhibits and there is an 8 minute video that can be cued up for you that will explain the history of the facility; my wife and I watched and found it to be very interesting.

Just up the road (north on 127) is Jamestown and Russell Springs, Kentucky. Both towns offer anything you could want or need. Russell Springs is the larger of the two and had a wider variety of vendors. However, in Jamestown we ate at Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant…and it was excellent.

So, hope this and the video gives you some clarification on the site and what it has to offer. While my venture didn’t prove so profitable….make the trip and decide for yourself. It is truly one of the most scenic areas we have visited while crossing the great country of ours!

My Dad

If you have been an avid follower of my blog then you know how important my father, Ivan Carmichael, was to me. I haven’t done much fishing in the past few months; partly due to a pretty crappy winter here in southern Indiana…and partly due to the fact that my dad has been fading away.

If you have experienced the death of a parent, I now can empathize with your loss and pain. My dad, Ivan, passed yesterday morning, March 9th of 2018. He did so with incredible dignity; which was the only thing I had been praying for. My dad was my best friend. Often people speak of a parent with high regard…please believe me-my dad broke the mold.

It was in his footsteps that I learned the love of the outdoors. Hunting, fishing and nature in general were his passions. I can vividly still recall the day I caught my first smallmouth. It was in a stream that I still fish today. I followed dad quietly along slippery rocks trying not to make a wave or cause too much commotion; that’s a tough thing for a 12 year old. He pointed to a deep pool and told me to make a cast (sorry folks, I was using conventional equipment…I wouldn’t teach myself to fly fish for another three years) as close to a stump as I could without snagging. Before I could even start to wind my small Zebco…I felt “The Tug”! Yep, the same tug that still gets me today…some 40+ years later. My first smallie wasn’t a ‘thumper’ as dad called them, maybe 10 inches; however, it fought like it was a trophy and I was literally and figuratively ‘hooked’.

Through the years my dad has been my greatest supporter. Isn’t that what a parent/father should be? Unfortunately that isn’t the case with enough of today’s youth. These past many years…dad was too weak to actually walk the streams with me (here’s a peak back to the last time I actually got him to come along). That didn’t stop him from still being a part of my life and my day as he would drop me off and pick me up a few hours later. In the meanwhile he would read the paper or a magazine and enjoy sitting by the stream.
Dad & my two boysWhen I would once again show up or arrive at my destination point he’d always ask me the same thing, “Well, how’d it go today”. I would then give him a quick run-down of any big fish or exciting happenings and it was like he had been there with me. If I had seen an eagle or an otter or anything special…he would always perk up and really take notice.

Often our day involved a breakfast, milkshake or ice-cream cone on the way home (sometimes it would involve more than one). These were the times that we talked…well, dad listened and mostly I talked. He was the greatest shrink a guy could ever ask for. Dad was a thinker. He believed that if you put your mind to any task, there was always a good solution. In fact the quote that he often jabbed at me if I were to ever whine was this, “You are either part of the problem or part of the solution…which one are you going to be today”?

Even in his last hours he remained a class act. He was in a hospital and only wanted to go home…but he didn’t whine, it wasn’t in his nature. He, dad, was of “The Greatest Generation”…and if you have had the privilege of knowing one of these great people then you know that they didn’t get through the tough parts of their lives by whining. They forged on…and that is exactly what dad did. He took a quiet last breath and moved from this world to the next.

So, as I write this piece I am sad…very sad. My sadness is that I no longer have my best friend along to share a story with. No longer can I call him up at any point in the day to ask his advice. No longer will I hear him answer the phone, “Hey feller, what’s going on today”? The truth is that I am sad for myself, for my loss. Dad however…well, I know where he is. He was a great Christian man; a quiet Christian man. He witnessed by his actions. So I turn the page and move into a new chapter of my life. A chapter that I knew was looming. I know I will make it…I am in truth a ‘chip off the old block’. That voice in my head, nope, I’m not crazy…that’s just dad moving me forward, one cast at a time!

Pheasant Hunting the PQ Ranch with Jim Merten

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While this is a fly fishing site, many of you who have followed for a while know that I have long been an upland bird hunter, pheasants to be very specific. Truth is that I find a large number of similarities between pheasant hunting-following a good bird dog…and chucking a streamer in search of a big smallie, trout, northern or musky. The puzzle is the allure. Pheasants and trout for example can be at times somewhat easy and at other times a true calculus problem. The game of figuring both out is what keeps me coming back.

I will even go a step further; I feel like I have a pretty good grip on two parts of this side by side love of mine, pheasant hunting and streamer fishing. I have for a long time built and then been very good at developing and reading my bird dogs. I have never owned a dog that I didn’t start with as a very young puppy, usually around 7-8 weeks of age. I know my dogs; their ins and outs and what makes them tick. I know when they are hot, bored and at times…ready to lose their minds. This innate ability has allowed me to use any of my good bird dogs like a thermometer. I know when they are hot and when good things are about to happen.
Pappi, my dog, pheasant huntingLikewise, I have developed over the past couple of decades, a real ability to read the water that I am fishing. I am not sure how best to put it…but I can ‘see’ where fish should be. The more I have honed this skill, the better fly-guy I have become. I waster fewer casts and in turn, waster fewer opportunities. I would like to say that this skill was also an innate skill…but I am not sure that was always the case. What I do know is that the more I catch, the better I get. The more often I can put a large trout in the net; the more frequently I am able to lip a big smallie…the more I retain and this is the critical connection…the more I recall my next time out in similar situations.

Today’s video, while short, was without question one of the most enjoyable two hours I have had in 2017. Why you might ask…didn’t seem like anything too incredible? Two or three hours, unencumbered by any phone call, deadline or student issues…when combined with one of the nicest and most enjoyable men I know in Jim Merten…well, believe me when I say this, whatever nirvana is, this was on the doorstep.
Jim Merten, pheasant huntingI hope that as you watch you can appreciate the beauty of the P/Q Ranch. Environs with incredible habitat like this just don’t happen, they are planned and there is a lot of what I like to preach to my students, “Sweat-Equity” involved. Hard work by good men who at their core have the very best interest of all of nature at hand. If I were a pheasant, I’d want to live on the P/Q Ranch; that is except for the times when me and my wirehairs and shorthairs come calling.

So, enjoy the video, I only wish I had a professional film crew at my beckon call so that you could watch as my pair of bird dogs, Pappi and Macy, comb, weave and bob their way through the chest high grass in search of America’s king of gamebirds…the ringneck pheasant.

Fly Fishing Catch and Release at Bennet Spring

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Let’s be clear, anytime a person can get out in December, in The Midwest, to fly fish….is a good time. So it was that my friends, Frank Terkhorn, John Morgan and I left my home early on Friday, December 8th; we were headed west about 400 miles to one of my favorite places in this great land, Bennet Spring State Park.

We cruised into the park just shy of 10 am. Made our way to the park store to pay for our condo for the weekend, grab a few keys, slap on a pair of waders…and water was in our immediate future. If you haven’t yet been to Bennet or haven’t watched one of my other videos…Bennet is located just 11 miles west of Lebanon, Missouri and in the Ozarks. The state park is a rare combination of great fishing and incredible beauty with wild life that abounds.

It didn’t take any of us long to jump from wanting to fish…to fishing. 6 weight rod with sink tip fly line in hand I eased into what I call the ‘kiddie-pool’ above the waterfalls in zone 1, stripped off about 40 feet of line and made an across stream cast with a crème colored trout candy. I could easily see the fly in the crystal clear water of the spring and then I couldn’t as I felt a tug and without even thinking made a strip-set and I was into my first fish of the trip.

A couple of casts later and a few feet downstream, I felt the power of a big fish…as you can see by watching the video it was indeed a nice, 20 inch buck (male) rainbow that was in full regalia, his colors were exceptional and the morning was off to a flying start. By mid-afternoon my early breakfast had worn off and a quick walk back to the condo sitting at the head of the spring allowed for a quick sandwich before once again strolling downstream in search of more trout.

My second day, Saturday, was more of the same with the exception that I made the long walk to the river, The Niangua, and turned right, downstream where I fished my way below highway 64 to the first river takeout. I would love to report that I did well, but that wasn’t the case as the river would only give me one small-smallie. Late in the afternoon I returned back to the spring and experienced some fast and furious fishing with an olive wooly in size 8.

Sunday, our final day would find me up early and off to zone 1 just above the dam. As you can see from the video, I have provided some narration as to how I was fishing along with a casting pattern of upstream that proved to be very successful. It is a beautiful thing to have the stream all to yourself…and that can and does happen while fishing the catch and release season at Bennet.

If you are looking for a nice weekend getaway, try the beauty of the Ozarks and the good folks at Bennet Spring…oh, and make sure to pack a few flies!