Fly Fishing in the Colder Months

Bart Beasley winter fishing

If your need to continue fishing isn’t halted by frigid temperatures, ice, or snow, fly fishing during the winter season can be as rewarding as the optimal months. So long as your local river or stream isn’t completely frozen over, many cold-water fish, like trout, tend to appear in large schools setting up an ideal fishing environment. In order to make the most of your winter fishing trip, there are a few strategies to take into consideration beforehand.

Effective Bait

It’s important to remember that the colder water physically slows down a lot of fish. Much like us human beings, their laziness may increase once the snow starts to fall and the temperatures begin to drop. With that said, you’ll want to cast a line with bait that effectively attracts whatever type of fish you’re searching for. Larger, slow-moving lures may appear as easy targets to fish that would prefer to remain immobile, thus inspiring them to at least make an attempt.

Another tactic that may help is keeping the bait warm. Fish need to be convinced that what they’re going after is alive, not a cold piece of rubber. While this may be difficult given the cold water, fish have thermoreceptors giving them the ability to sense a change in water temperature. Warming the lure in your hands, pockets, or heating pads before casting is all it takes for a potential catch to sense a slight rise in temperature nearby.

Know Where to Go

Winter months tend to migrate fish to the bottoms of rivers and streams, where they are willing to stay for long periods of time. This stubbornness, though frustrating, can work out in your favor if you can seek out their hiding spots. Bass and crappies typically shelter themselves under debris in the waterways. Though this does pose the risk of snagging your line on a branch or bundle of leaves, going to them will be much for effective than waiting for them to come to you.

Knowing how to read the flows of these bodies of water can also lead you to larger schools of fish. For example, a stream with very little movement, but just enough, indicates a large pool where fish usually gather. These can be hotspots for catching trout if you haven’t mad much luck anywhere else.

Plan Ahead

This is perhaps the most obvious tip I’ll give. Considering the fact that it is going to be very cold where you’ll be fishing, be sure to wear enough clothing and layers to avoid succumbing to the frigid temperatures. Since fishing does not involve much physical movement, preserving your body heat is crucial, especially when standing in freezing waters. Look into purchasing waterproof shoes, socks, and outerwear in general. Also, a thermos full of any hot beverage or soup wouldn’t hurt in helping you battle the cold.
Fly fishing during winter certainly has its perks. Before deciding to take the icy plunge in your nearby fishing hotspots, take the above tips into consideration to make your trip an enjoyable one. Most importantly, have fun! Chances are, you will have most of the area to yourself, as this time of year isn’t exactly the most popular for fishing. Enjoy the solitude of just you, the water, and the fish.

The 2016 Don Hawley Tarpon Tournament

Hi all,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, but I have an update for you.

Back in June, I had the pleasure of participating in the Don Hawley Invitational Tarpon Fly Tournament down at Islamorda in the Florida Keys. It wan’t my first time participating in the tournament and it certainly won’t be my last. Even though the weather started off pretty rough, overall we had a blast. To give you a bit more info on the tournament, it was all-release for tarpon four feet and over with a 12 pound tippet division of 1,000 points per release and a a 16 pound tippet division with 750 points per release. The Grand Champion title went to the angler + guide team with the most points (regardless of division) at the end of the 5-day period.

I didn’t land the Grand Champion title, but I still ended up doing pretty well. With the help of my truly astounding guide, Captain Perry Coleman, I managed to take the Champion title of the 12 Pound Tippet Division.  As an award, both Perry and me were given some T. Borski original paintings, which you can see below. If you haven’t heard of him, T. Borski sort of the Picaso of the game fishing community. Needless to say, I’m very pleased to have won a work of his.

I can’t wait to get back to the tournament next year.

Bart Beasley and Captain Perry Coleman holding up their awards.

Bart Beasley and Captain Perry Coleman holding up their awards.

 

Thanks for reading,

Bart Beasley

 

Tranquility on the River

I love my job and I love living in Charleston. This city has so much to offer and feels truly like home to me. But I also love taking a break from work and the city to go fly fishing out away from it all. There’s a kind of tranquility there that you can’t find anywhere else. This video brings that to mind for me.

Breathe. Presented by Imago Fly Fishing. from Imago Fly on Vimeo.

How do you find your own tranquility? Let me know on Twitter @BartBeasleySC.

Fly Fishing Books

I am fortunate that my father taught me to fly fish at a young age. You see, since his parents were farmers, he himself was a farmer for most of his life. But even while he was busy working on the farm he’d find the time to steal away to the local creek and fly fish. Well my father met my mom, the two of them worked hard, they had me and for a while it seemed that was how it would be: my dad working on the farm, and stealing away every now and then to fly fish.

But he got good. He got reall good. He got to the point where he could support himself from fly fishing by serving as a fly fishing guide. He soon left farm work to the past.

I am fortunate for a number of reasons, but reason in particular is that my father taught me how to fly fish. Since I started learning so young, in many ways, fly fishing is as natural as walking for me. Despite having many years of fly fishing under my belt, I always try to learn wherever I can.

There are a number of fly fishing books out there that can be great resources for picking up new fishing techniques and life wisdom in general. Below are several that I’d recommend.

picture of front cover of bookAll Fishermen Are Liars by John Gierach

Starting with an autobiographical introduction, John Gierach runs the gamut in covering all sorts of fly fishing topics from Japanese fly fishing techniques to diverse American ones. There are 22 essay between the front and back covers and they are chock full of humor and wisdom. All Fishermen Are Liars is particularly notable for it’s inclusion of Eastern insights like Zen.

picture of front cover of the little red book of fly fishingThe Little Red Book of Fly Fishing by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers

This book is small, but filled to the brim with all sorts of expert advice. Kirk Deeter (of Field and Stream) and Charlie Meyers of the Denver Post share the lessons that they’ve learned through a lifetime of fly fishing. You get a lot of great personal anecdotes but also a hearty selection of stories from the mouths of guides across the world.

front cover of every day was specialEvery Day Was Special: A Fly Fisher’s Lifelong Passion by WIlliam G. Tapply

This collection of 30 fishing essays was finished by Tapply just before he died in 2009. Like some of the best books on fly fishing out there, it talks about the sport and the meditation of fly fishing while also incorporating autobiographical narrative.

front cover of fifty places to fly fish before you dieFifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die by Chris Santella

Every fly fisher needs a dream list. In this book, Chris Santella puts together a list of beautiful locations for you. We all know that half of the joy of fly fishing is being surrounded by beautiful sights. Santella pulls from interviews with fly fishing experts from across the world to provide great fishing stories. The book also includes travel-and-tackle info and gorgeous photos.

picture of front cover of l.l. bean guide to fly fishingThe L.L. Bean Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing by Macauley Lord, Dick Talleur, and Dave Whitlock

If there’s one book for you to pick-up to improve your fly fishing game, this is the one. It’s features advice from a slew of experts and is neatly divided into four sections: General Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing for Bass, Fly Casting, and Fly Tying. The language is straightforward and the flow is real smooth. It contains info on types of flies, the top ten most popular and successful fly patterns, and more.

Bart Beasley's Favorite Fly Fishing Books from Bart Beasley on Vimeo.

More Than Just Trash Fish: Carp

Fly fishing Carp

Image courtesy of Orvis.com

More Than Just Trash Fish: Carp

The other day I was talking to a fishing buddy of mine about carp. He was telling me how he recently went carp fishing and landed a whopping thirty pound common carp.  When he came home, he proudly told his wife about it and she just laughed. “Is that really a big deal?”

When it comes to fish that are misunderstood, carps rank at the the top of the list. People often think that carp are just freshwater pigeons, that they’re stupid, that they’re not worth fishing. But as my buddy and I discussed, carp are actually a great game fish.

For starters, carp are smarter and spookier than your average fly fish. According to an article in Field in Stream, carp actually rate higher than freshwater bass in intelligence. So, keep false casting to a minimum. For anyone who’s tried angling a carp, this shouldn’t come as much as a surprise.

Your best bet is fish for carp in clear water where you can easily spot them. If you’re fishing around muddy water, make sure that the water is shallow enough for you to see their tails or fins sticking out through the surface. For flies, try using Woolly Buggers (imitates a crayfish or small minnow), trout nymphs (size 8-12, the more wiggle the better), or even smaller bonefish flies (sizes 6-8). If you really want to get serious, I’d recommend that you pick yourself up some specialized carp flies. They’re designs are proven to work. Still, you have your share of options.

In a current, fix your fly dead drift in the same way that you’d hook a trout. Fast-moving fish are always tougher to land. Make sure to cast your fly in front of your tailing fish, if he can’t easily see your fly, then you might as well recast. It may take a lot of casts to get it right, but once you do have a good cast, make sure to let your fly sink a little bit. Then, give it a little twitch. This’ll grab the carp’s attention, as they may think it’s a crawfish scuttling around.

One of the most difficult parts of fishing carp can be figuring out when they take the fly. Two things that I look out for are if the fish the move towards you and then turn away quickly or if you can see his white lips closing around the fly.

Even once you hook them the job’s not done. Carp can put up a big fight. It’s not uncommon for them to pull the line off the reel. I recommend using 6 to 8 lb floating lines. Anything heavier might put them off.

So there you have it. Carp’s may be trash fish, but they can often be trophy fish. If you plan on fishing for carp, make sure you come prepared and know that once you land one of those fellas, it’s a pretty big accomplishment.

For some more tips on carp, look here or check out this great video from Orvis.

 

Autumn Fly Fishing Tips

bart beasley autumn fly fishing

When Autumn rolls around, the weather cools off, the leaves start to change, and anglers around the world face new challenges in the water that are specific to the season. The conditions differ from the summer in that the streams and rivers are typically lower and clearer than during the summer. The water is not blanketed by crisp, newly fallen leaves, the water getting colder, and with the shorter days the sun angles change as well.

All of these challenges change the way anglers approach the Autumn opposed the summer. To solve the puzzle that is fly fishing in the Autumn, and to adapt to changing conditions, try out some of these helpful tips to give yourself the best day possible on the water.

Lower Sun

As the days get shorter and winter approaches, the sun gets lower in the sky on a typical day compared to the summer. With lower sun angles throughout the day, longer shadows require an angler to more stealthy in the water. What you don’t want to happen here is the fish getting spooked by you. Make sure to pay attention to the sun’s position while you are out on the water. Paying close attention to your shadows, and where they are being cast will be crucial in your success.

Dress Appropriately

As mentioned above, being mindful of the sun’s position is important, but low and clear water conditions makes it much easier to fish to see what’s going on above the water’s surface.  As for any kind of hunting activity, your clothing is an important factor. To stay stealthy, stick to Autumn colors, or even camouflage if needed.

Know What You Are Fishing

Some species of fish spawn in the late summer and get more aggressive and agitated come the fall. These behavioural changes are a direct result of the spawning, which creates more competition, and increased territoriality. The upside to this is that makes the Autumn one of the best times to fly fish. With all of this said, thinking about the fly size, the color, and aim for a cranky fish can be important. These fish while aggressive, are more likely to chase and find streamers and other flies a disturbance to a trout trying to spawn.
Fly fishing in the Autumn can be one of the most challenging experiences, even for the most seasoned angler. Making sure you are properly prepared for the conditions you are about to face can help you find the most success. Good luck and have fun out on the water this fall!

Some Of Best Fish To Catch Fly Fishing

Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora) portraitAll anglers have the same goal, to catch the “big one.” That mystical, once in a lifetime fish. Some anglers travel all around the world to find that sought after fish. But what are these fish? What species of fish make anglers like you and I travel the world to catch? This list has some of the most difficult to find fish, and some of the most difficult to reel in as well.

bart beasley charleston tarpon

Me holding Tarpon off of the Florida Keys

Tarpon

One of the greatest fighters in the water. The Tarpon has been hooked by many anglers but only so many of them have actually won the battle. The Tarpon isn’t the hardest fish to catch, but they are considered a prehistoric fish, meaning they they’ve been roaming the waters of earth for longer than humans have been around for. A Giant Tarpon can grow up to 7 ft in length and can weigh over 200 pounds. Anglers from near and far travel from the Caribbean to West Africa to take a chance at reeling in one of these sought after fish.

picture of giant trevally

Giant Trevally hang around tropical waters around the world.

Giant Trevally

Found all over the world, but commonly found in warm tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Ocean, the Giant Trevally isn’t the rarest fish. The allure of the Giant Trevally is its fighting shape is built to take anglers to the limit. The power of the Giant Trevally can be attributed to thick shoulders and a midsection of all muscle. Plus, having almost paddle-like pectoral and tail fins only add to the strength of the Giant Trevally.

picture of a tigerfish

One look at these badboys, and you realize that tigerfish really do warrant their name.

Tigerfish

The Tigerfish is an African fish found in the rivers and lakes of the continent.  A priced fish, the Tigerfish is a fierce predator with its trademark razor sharp teeth. The Goliath Tiger is the largest in the Tigerfish family and is found in the Congo system. With those teeth being so big and intimidating, it makes for the Tigerfish to an experience of a lifetime to catch.

picture of a permit fish

You can find Permit along the East Coast and other West Atlantic regions.

Permit

One of the most prized fish to catch, the Permit is just one of the coolest looking fish to catch. With large, human-like eyes and a unique shape, the Permit is also a fish of beauty as well. A good fighter and a pretty smart fish, it can be a challenge to even the most seasoned angler. The Permit is usually found in shallow, tropical waters and in flats and channels. They are a heavier fish as well can and grow up to 20lbs.

picture of a golden mahseer being hooked

The largest in the mahseer family, golden mahseer make for a challenging catch.

Golden Mahseer

A fish that resides right below the Himalayan Range in India, the Golden Mahsser is one of the most coveted fish to find. Found in the northern part of India, the surroundings alone that the Golden Mahseer resides in is enough to attract Western anglers to catch one. But don’t think it’s an easy catch, with golden armor-played scales give it power, and bucket shaped fins can make it be one of the biggest challenges in all of fly fishing to reel in. Fly Fishing for the Golden Mahseer is considered a newer thing, but more and and more anglers are trying their luck at catching one.

For more fly fishing info, check out my Twitter.

Best Fly Fishing States

American fly fishing

Fly fishing in the United States is getting more and more popular. As the popularity increases the best places to fish are becoming more and more sought after. The United States has some of the best fly fishing destinations in the world, with all corners of the States represented.

Florida

By far the best saltwater fly fishing in the States, The Keys have very big bonefish, and are loaded with tarpon as well. The Everglades, also are known for tarpon, redfish, snook and largemouth bass. In the Panhandle area, you’ll find tarpon and reds, but Florida’s real special fly fishing characteristic is in the canals, ditches, lakes and ponds, always full of largemouth bass.

Montana

A very popular destination for anglers. Montana features: Yellowstone, the Big Horn, the Madison, the rivers in Yellowstone National Park, the Beaverhead, the Missouri, and all of those creeks. The list can go on forever, Montana is the best trout fishing state in the union.

North Carolina

The variety that North Carolina has is why it makes this list. The mountains have trout streams, and populations of native brook trout. The piedmont area is filled with reservoirs and there are thousands of farm ponds that are filled with largemouth bass and bluegills. The Roanoke River gets one of the best runs of striped bass every year. And don’t forget the coast, where you can catch both stripers and redfish, exclusive to the area.

New York

Long Island Sound and the southern beaches of the island make for the best striped bass, bluefish, and false albacore fishing in the States. Plus people forget how big and vast of a state New York is. The Catskills alone offer some of the best trout fishing east of the rockies with the Beaverkill, the Willowemoc, and the Neversick. The Adirondacks also have a legendary reputation for the lakes and streams that flow through it. Don’t forget about the Great Lakes either providing some of the best salmon and steelhead runs in the nation. Most of the species in New York aren’t native, but the variety alone makes New York one of the best fishing spots in the period.

Alaska

The fishing season is very short, only lasting a few months. But those in those short months, Alaska makes it count. Salmon, steelhead, resident rainbows, grayling, northern pike, and even some grizzly bears hanging out make the final frontier that much more alluring.