Thursday, October 1, 2020

Wyoming Cutt Challenge

 Fishing challenges have caught my attention the last year or so and I have looked into several challenges in the west including the Western Native Trout Challenge.  After looking at countless maps ,several informational websites, and the help of several friends Scott Hunter for Wyoming and Jeff Creamer for the Utah challenge.  I had my goal set really high to accomplish the Wyoming and Utah Cutthroat Challenges.  After a long solo roadtrip and using great directions I pulled into the East Fork of the Wind.  The water looked in great shape and no one was around.  I had my mind made up I was going to complete this challenge using just my Blue Halo 3wt fly rod. On some streams it would be a little under gunned but my heart fully is with a 3wt I could own 20 different 3wt rods and still need another, they just have a feel when in your hand and the full flex just makes the rod come to life.  I quickly strung up a chubby and hoped for some top water action.  The wind was pretty tough and nothing was happened quickly tied on a dropper and found fish fast and often.  With the first day and the first fish the Yellowstone Cutthroat under my belt I felt pretty confident I could complete this challenge still. 

 After Scott calling in and giving me unreal directions for another spot just off the Snake River I was on the water again.  Not the biggest fan of bears and after seeing several sign my head was on just a little bit of a swivel.  Went with the hopper dropper again at first and moved nothing new water is always a challenge but you just look for the holding spots like you would in any stream.  So I finally go back to my trusty favorite fly the classic woolybugger and wham a trout hookup in no time so I am feeling good well the feel went away fast after a long distance release.  After a little longer on the stream and I am feeling this may not be possible my unicorn could be the fine spotted snake river cutthroat trout.  After sleeping on it and doing some sight seeing the morning I decided to try some headwater stream but road work didn't allow for that so the morning was in disarray.  Found another stream and again no cooperative trout.  After a few miles on some of the Wyoming back country roads I finally end up on North Cottonwood Creek and found an easy pull off.  Strung up the dropper hopper ring and had a fish on top water in no time.  A nice Colorado River Cutthroat trout so now we have 2 out of 4 challenge fish so maybe we have at least a shot to complete this part of the journey.  Fished a little longer down the stretch and several more chunky little fish took the dropper before we packed up and headed to our next destination.  

After an awesome scenic trip over the pass I end up on the upper stretch of the Greys River.  Again since it has been working and I found some nice runs I am thinking dropper hopper rig again and we are in good shape.  Moved one fish but not really a lot of action.  So tried another spot that had some good structure and a deep pool so again when all else fails went back to the old reliable black woolybugger and hoping the dream would stay alive.  After a few casts wham and this time there was no long distance release a snake river cutthroat was in the net and we are finally at 3 out of 4 so the challenge is still achievable.  After some more fishing and more snake river cutts back into the car and onto another stream to try and finish this challenge. 

 It was getting late and I considered giving Salt Creek a shot before dark but slide into the campsite and hoped for better luck in the morning.  The sun was out the hope was holding on so walked up to the little trib with a yellow humpy and a nice beaver pond and the Bonneville were more than eager to take the fly with one in hand the challenge of 4 native Wyoming Cutthroat trout was complete and another 4 new fish to add to the species list.  

With some hope still alive I decided to hop into the car and try another state and hopefully another milestone.  So packed up and went south into Utah.  The water was running good in the Logan River and I threw all I could think of at several different spots but for me this day the Bear River Cutthroat were not willing so the drive into Logan and over a Guy Fieri approved peanut butter burger decisions had to be made stay on course head through Utah and push on or head back to Wyoming and enjoy some more fish and views of the Snake River area.  I headed back north to enjoy more of the awesome state of Wyoming.  Challenges are awesome but sometimes the biggest challenge is the ones we give ourselves.  Until next time Utah will still be calling looking forward to marking another challenge off the list!

Friday, September 11, 2020

WV Trout Management Plan

 Lots of great things are being done in the Mountain State and our DNR is doing some of that with an awesome new Trout Management Plan.  I’ve had the very fortunate opportunity to represent the people of WVAngler at these discussions with a diverse group of individuals.  I’ll hit some of the highlights in discussions right now but as always I welcome your feedback as I am a voice for you.  Lots of great ideas coming from the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and being sent to the Technical Advisory Committee.  This as a whole would be great for everyone lots of possibilities and opportunities in this state to improve on making things better!  

Funding, Investment, and Capacity 

-Lots of discussions on finding projects from stocking to habitat projects and land access.  Working at more ways to generate funding to be able to provide more of these options mentioned.  

-Diversifying and  Enhancing Public Fishing Access

Need for more access spots and keeping areas cleaned and enhanced.

- Habitat 

More habitat wild trout, improved water quality, reconnecting headwaters, and identifying restoration projects.  Habitat has been one of the big discussions as you clean the water and improve habitat everyone wins no just the trout and fishing but everything downstream.

-Diversification of Stocked Trout Opportunities 

One very big thing was delayed harvest discussions that would give everyone a chance to use the resource.  Increased fingerling opportunities.  And the increase in events like gold rush which has been good getting kids and others involved. More diversification to possibly extend fishing seasons.   

-Enhancing Native and Wild Fisheries 

Protecting and enhancing.  Working on habitat to enhance fisheries.  Understanding the threats they face better not only as managers but fisherman.  

-education and youth information 

Getting kids more involved in fishing.  Better communication with public on things DNR is doing or involved in.more education to the public as a whole on things like fish handling and importance of wild trout.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

On The Hunt For A Record

Photo courtesy of Zach Adkins

Sometimes when you go fishing you truly are not sure what the day will bring and what you will be blessed with catching.  That is true for member Zach Adkins.  McFishin as most board members know him by his screen name.  Fishing challenges is becoming more popular across the United States.  Different states have native fish challenges that reward an angler for catching certain species of fish in there home waters.  Adkins is one of those people who always enjoy the challenge of the catch, the only WV sport-fish that Zach has yet to catch is the Chain Pickerel.  He says he has had several close encounters but can never seal the deal.  As far as records Adkins says, "I've tried a couple of times to target a record.  In the late 90's there were hybrid versions of several species stocked all over the state.  By the mid-late 2000's the states Saugeye population was nearing the end of its lifespan, all those fish were getting old...and big.  Same with the hybrid stripers and tiger musky.  I tried various locations across the state for all 3 species and actually came somewhat close on the Hybrid and Saugeye for length but not close enough.  I did lay eyes on a true Tiger musky that would've rivaled the record but it was a single lazy lure follow that never committed and disappeared."  Adkins started the day throwing a swim bait targeting the large bass that live there or the few northern pike that are supposed to be in there.  It was a foggy day on the water but Zach noticed some surface activity.  With the fog and cloud covering hampering his view he was led to assume it was a big fish chasing bait.  Casting to the area out of his Vibe kayak and before you know it he was hooked up with the swim bait.  Adkins says, "It was an unintentional snag and it honestly didn't fight as you'd think it would.  The fish as old and definitely on its way out. "  None the less a fish of that size 53" and 59 lbs getting a fish of that proportions to the bank is a challenge in itself.  Speaking of the record Zach says. "I knew when I first say this fish it might be close but did't think it would actually beat it.  It's pretty cool getting to have my name in there.  It's always been a goal, ever since I was a little kid.  The circumstances and species of this one are definitely not the way I thought it would happen but take what's given I suppose. A state record has been my longest running fishing goal but honestly, being able to complete my life list (every sport fish in WV) from public waters will mean more to me.  For 28 years I've honed and worked at being able to catch all kids of different species, on all kids of different water, on all kinds of different gear, and the more I switched form one species to the next the more I learned how they actually all aren't that, cover, reproduction."  Due to the grass carp being a non game fish unintentional snagging is allowed for records in the record book.  As for now Adkins will continue to try and land that Chain Pickerel and he will be chasing the Fallfish record.  As he says, "There are way too many 18-20" Falllfish in the Potomac drainage for their not to be one greater than the 21.25" record.  I catch most of my fallfish while targeting smallmouth  though, but have learned the water Fallfish prefer, so when I fish a specific hole I cast in the smallmouth holding areas first, the switch over to the more fallfish friendly areas."  We congratulate Zach Adkins on his record and wish him the best on catching that chain pickerel. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Women & Waders!!

Women & Waders!

The last few years the fishing community has seen a huge increase in not only women fly fishing but more specifically women fly fishing.  With the growing number in the sport its more common to find even brand specific products for women on the market from companies like Fishe Wear providing a variety of leggings and women specific gear, Vedavoo with the Ripple Sling (named after women fly fishing advocate Jen Ripple), Orvis 50/50 initiative, Able Women inspiring other women to cast like a girl, and even Casting for Recovery offering healing for women with breast cancer.  Years ago it was harder to find women specific waders or rods or especially women specific trips but that is o more women in fly fishing is growing and strong especially in WV.  

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In WV we are blessed to have a great group of women inspiring other women to try the sport of fly fishing.  Pamela Caldwell Dunlap is the woman behind Women Wine & Waders.  Their vision is to contribute to the physical and well being of women through fly fishing.  Pamela has done amazing things bringing the sport of fly fishing to the women of WV through her outings she provides at various venues across the mountain state.  Pamela says she got into fly fishing like man other ladies her first time fly fishing was while she was on a date.  Pamela had a big vision in creating Women Wine & Waders she says, "When I began fly fishing I was having personal problems and I soon found out that throwing a line on the water was my stress relief.  I really was crappy at fishing!  But never gave up.  I kept trying and eventually started catching fish.  This was such a revelation for me.  The feeling of worth and self confidence that I'd lost was back I full swing.  This positive growth is what prompted the development of Women Wine & Waders.  The group contributes to the health and well being of women through fly fishing.  We encourage a passion for love and respect of wild beautiful places.  And importantly, we promote friendships, accomplishments, and lasting memories.  Fishing is the bonus!  All skill levels welcome.  On our Annual Fly Fishing Festival held in the spring we take a special guest free of charge.  This is a lady who has fought or is fighting a life threatening disease."  Like any other sport the sport of fly fishing has many women to look up to and follow after.  While Pamela says there is so may ladies she looks up to in the sport there is one special lady she can single out, and it is Kiki Galvin.  Pamela says, "She is a lady who has given so much of herself to the fly fishing community.  She is the modern day Joan Wolff.  I can only hope to fish and learn half of what she knows."  If your a woman looking to get into the sport of fly fishing Pamela has some advice for you, "It doesn't take a ton of money to go fly fishing.  Buy base model rods and reels.  You Can add to your equipment along the way.  Don't put too much pressure on yourself.  There's plenty to learn and to every level you want to take it.  The more you fish the better you become.  Pair up with a friend and just go.  You will learn something new from everyone.  Before long you will have a group of ladies to go fishing with."  The future is bright in the sport of fly fishing for women especially in WV with the group from Women Wine & Waders.  Look for them to keep spreading across the mountain state and providing women the opportunity to try the sport.  Her vision is bright with a dream one day to expand to other states.  Keep up the great work Pamela!!  Fish on!!  Check them out online at 

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Friday, November 15, 2019

2019 WVAngler Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is not far away we are going to give you some great ideas for that fly fisherman on your list.  There is lot of great options out there from art, to gear, and clothing.  So here are a few items we recommend this holiday season.

Wooly Bugged Beanie

Wooly Bugged is a small company from PA.  They offer a couple cool fishery designed beanies.  They have brook trout, brown trout, and the perfect for this time of year steelhead.  All made in the USA and hand crocheted 100% acrylic.  
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Vedavoo - X Collection

Vedavoo has changed things up and made there made in the USA packs even more awesome.  They have added the X Collection which provides some awesome water protection at a great price and value.  The new beast also has a built-in net holder.
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Cliff Outdoors

Cliff offers some awesome fly boxes especially for big and meaty flies.  For the fly fisherman that always is on the road fishing.  The Cliff Head Liner is an awesome item.  It fits all car visors and securely holds your flies for on the go fishing.
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Catch Cam Nets

Catch Cam Nets made right here in WV offer a great way to capture the fish and the moment.  With there patented camera slide mounts it makes getting a picture of that trophy a breeze before release.  They now have the Native Net with a short handle and shallow bag and breaks down to fit in a suitcase.
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Flymen Fishing Company

Blane Chocklett is changing the game again.  Flymen is now offering up the micro-spine to tie up Blanes new Bugger Changer.
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Fly Fishing Artists

Support a great fly fishing artist!  There is so many great artists in the fishing community.  Going to name 3 of them.  
Mike Williams – Mike does awesome things with a hat or a yeti and turns it into a one of a kind piece of artwork.    
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 TyHallock using sharpies to create a one of a kind fly boxes or your personalized catch and release print a true trophy in art.      
 Matthew Stockton using some cool methods to offer up predators on the fly and great fish decals and swag!
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Risen Fly 
       Lillia's Lines of Love - Awesome bracelets that's proceeds go to help kids at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
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Local Fly Shop
As always support your local fly shop!!  Gift cards or anything you can to support them and keep them going is always great.              

Friday, March 8, 2019

Fly Fishing & Art

Fly Fishing is an art so why not put the two together and have Fly Fishing Art. A guy that's became like a brother to me Scott Hunter of Vedavoo is one of those crazy Fly Fishing Art guys he is always adding a new piece to his collection.  After always seeing what new piece of art he is adding or what new artist is doing a piece for a Vedavoo Reel Service Project the love for that art has grown a lot.  My blogging has been a little behind but with a lot of things with WVAngler we will be back doing a lot more things.  I wanted to take some time out to focus on some awesome people I have been following with their art work as of late.  Fly fishing is a great sport a sport that allows one to get away from the stress of day to day life and immerse himself into a piece of water and forget all that's going on around them just for that short period of time.  These great artists give us that avenue at times without even stepping foot on a stream.  A piece from them allows us to go back to that moment with a great fishing buddy, the fish of a lifetime, or just that bucket list moment that you want to dream about it gives us all so much more.

Ty Hallock known to most as the sharpie king takes regular fly boxes or coolers and creates a custom one of a kind trophy.  His work brings fly boxes to life.  You may have that tough day on the water and your throwing 10 inch musky flies all day and never see a fish and you get ready to quit for the day take your fly off throw it in the box and that piece of art gives you hope, hope of another follow another big fish that will inhale your fly as its stripping through the water.  You catch a memorable fish and do not want to forget it, its hard to be a custom sharpie fly box from Ty!

Mike Williams takes hat to a whole different level.  If you a hat person and you like art this guy is your man.  Mike takes an idea makes an outline then starts laying paint down and when he is done most people are amazed.  His work on a hat brings anything fly fishing related to life from flies, to fish, to flanks.  When you look at one of Mike's hats you see a live fish it has so much depth and realness to it.  Wearing one of Mike's hats puts you on the fish no matter if your on the stream or not truly wearing a one of a kind piece of art.

Matthew Stockton brings a complete different style of art to fly fishing.  Matthew brings a very energetic form with bright and flashy pieces.  Matt's work shows a true love for predator fish you will see a lot of musky, brown trout, and smallmouth.  When you see on of his pieces they jump off the canvas the bold bright colors and generally you will see a fish in chase of a fly which spells action packed artwork.

Andrea Larko brings a complete unique one of a kind design to fly fishing art.  Andrea uses a lot of Zen like forms to create works of art.  She covers any type of fish you can think of then goes a step further to offer just about everything on a sticker.  Nothing like driving down the road with some wicked fish art on your vehicle yes I have a problem with that.  She covers it all from a sticker for your ride to an awesome print for your fly tying room!

Jeff Currier is the man of many fish!  Jeff has tallied over 375 different species on a fly rod.  Jeff brings that extensive fishy knowledge to the artworld when he is doing a piece.  You name the species Jeff will put a perfect illustration on a Cliff box!  Great way to save that memory of that special species you caught.

So many other great artists out there in the fly fishing world from Callihan, DeYoung, Maddox, Hornung, and Puckett each with their own special talent and touch.  Support an artist and make your man cave look!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Time of Thanksgiving

This time of year is a time we consider what we are truly Thankful for in life a time of thanksgiving.  When thinking of WVAngler and fly fishing there is so much I have to truly be thankful for.  So many people who have helped me get to where I am and continue to help me along the way.

My dad has always been a person that's spread the love of the outdoors to me starting back in our Boy Scout days.  I still fondly remember a canoe trip the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, mountain trips we would camp out along a stream, or driving across the country so I could catch a trout somewhere.  What I truly am blessed with he was kind enough to put a fly rod in my hand at a still young age where I could grow, he shared his old martin fiberglass combo with me and off we went to the streams of WV chasing stock trout with an old fiberglass rod.  That love and passion for the sport has grown for me over the years and very thankful to have been given those opportunities early where I could start!

When I started fly fishing I was drown to the cold bug infested waters of the Elk River a great place for anyone to learn the sport.  I remember standing at the Angle Hole and being dumbfounded as to what in the world I was doing or what they were eating and just not having a clue what in the world to do.  A few good friends helped that learning curve grow quickly.  Dave Breitmeier, Chad See, and Roy Smith helped me figure out what I was doing early one.  I remember many days tagging along on the river, hanging out at the tailgate of the truck and hashing things out, and being blessed being able to sit on Dave's porch till the wee hours of morning and learning everything from tying a 32 to anything you want to know about bugs and presentation.  When people start something new its always a tough learning curve unless we are blessed to have those who help us learn!

Those tailgate sessions I am also so thankful for as they became the starting place to something that's been near and dear to my heart a place called WVAngler.  It was created on these rivers after the evening spinner fall so fellow anglers could have a place to share and others could grow.  A place to share the true love for what WV offers!  Its been a long road guys like Jonathan Paine and Zach Adkins have helped so much along the way and we wouldn't be where we were if it wasn't for so many great people.  I will always be thankful to be a part of WVAngler and being able to share that passion of WV with others.  I always look at not being a part of a website message board but being a part of a true family of fisherman!

WV Waters are truly something to be thankful for.  What makes these waters so special no not the brook trout as some talk about the variety we have where we can chase so many things with a fly.  Rivers are filled with smallmouth bass that's eater to eat a fly, areas where you can throw a massive 8 inch streamer to a toothy musky, the Ohio where you can catch Hybrid striped bass that makes your drag scream, flowing back county where brown trout will rise eagerly to a spinner fall, then so many blue lines filled with tons of native brook trout.  Yes this state is a thankful place to be able to pursue fish we have so many options and areas it makes fishing always a truly new and unique day.

The fly fishing industry is a huge market I am truly blessed and thankful I have been able to make so many great contacts and friends in the industry.  The team at Vedavoo lead by Scott Hunter is truly family.  They not only offer a great fishing sling when you buy something from them you become part of a great community a family of people that love something simplistic and something made in the USA.  Companies like Chota, Risen Fly, and Waterworks Lamson make trade shows enjoyable and a truly blessing to hang out with and products that make time on the water well spent.

What should we be most thankful for time on the water.  I am thankful for each person I get the blessing to fish with and share a moment of time with on any given body of water.  The opportunity and blessing from God to be able to be healthy enough to wade and cast a fly at that moment.  And just so thankful for the chance to cast that fly when we do have that opportunity!

Blessings always abound to us in life.  Sometimes we take things for granted but we are thankful for so many moments while we are here for this short time.  The next fish you hook into the next cast you make be thankful for that moment you have!!

Thank you all for what  you do an being a part of WVAngler!