Monday, December 30, 2013

"Fly" Fishing in China? - Catch and Release in the limestone Guangxi region.

Fly Fishing in China ?

These photos from Guilin and Lijiang are proof of trout, carp, koi, and pan fish.

     But in a country like China, Morocco, Tanzania or parts of Mexico the idea of fly fishing, especially catch and release fly fishing is as hard for the natives to imagine as it is for us when we try to imagine the fun of building the pyramids or erecting the moai on Easter Island. 
     Is there fly fishing in China? Is it possible to teach "catch and release" to this ancient culture? Could the introduction of a parachute adams destabilize the social structure of a river side fishing village? 
     FishB4UFly's intrepid fly fishing explorers tracked down the answers to these questions. Here for the first time they are REVEALED.
1. YES. There is Fly Fishing in China. And, just like the instructions on how to put together the "Made in China" patio umbrella you got at Walmart, the Chinese have put an original spin on "Fly" fishing. In fact, they didn't borrow fly fishing from Izaak Walton in 1653 as blue blooded fly fishers would undoubtably suggest. They'd been fly fishing for at least 700 years before Izaak tied on his first streamer.
2. NO. They already know. Catch and Release, in the Chinese way, has been  going on in China since the Tang dynasty.
3. NO. Even though China has all the best materials for fly rods, parachutes, dubbing, and fly lines, it is unlikely that a single subsistence angler will be interested in a technique so backward and unnecessarily complicated.

And here is the photographic proof taken on the Li River in October 2008.

Who put the "fly" in "fly fishing?"

First we must allow for an alternate Chinese specific use of the word "fly."  Rather than its archaic easily misinterpreted use as a description of a bug that is not actually a fly, we must revert back to its original and most common usage as a verb rather than a noun. As in, "Look at the big black cormorants those women are carrying on those long poles. I wonder why they don't just fly away."

Who put the "Fishing" in "Fly Fishing."

The first Neanderthal to catch a fish mimicked a grizzly swatting a migrating salmon out of the stream. The first Chinese "Fly" fisher saw a cormorant dive in, swim underwater, grab a fish, fly up on a branch, work the fish into a head down position, and swallow it. Instead of mimicking the cormorant the hungry crafty observer made friends with the Cormorant and taught him to bring back his fish to enjoy the meal together. He let the bird "fly" away, dive into the water, swim after schools of fish, "catch" a nice one, bring it back to his pole, and then he "released" it into his fishing basket. The ring around the cormorant's neck helped keep the bird focused while letting him swallow the smaller fish. 

The battery powered spot light replaced the traditional lantern when the Guilin K-Mart opened.

The cormorant is trained to come back to the fisherman's pole.

 It's not exactly our definition of fly fishing but don't try to tell that to a Chinese cormorant.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't use your dog for bait.

Don't use your dog for bait.

Heard a story yesterday from an angler at Bluequill Anglers shop in Evergreen, CO about a mountain lion moving in for the kill on a small dog that his master had brought along to fish Cheesman Canyon, near Deckers Colorado on 12/2/2013. He heard another angler shouting and waving his arms below him near the water at the Lower Narrows
Sign along S. Boulder Canyon near Eldora State Park. There should be one in Cheesman also. 
and went to investigate. He saw the angler, his small dog, and a mountain lion crouched about 20 yards away. We all fish there often and have seen footprints but this is the only recent case where any of us have actually seen a lion in daytime. The ignored rule is that dogs must be leashed at all times on this section of Pike National Forest. The second angler threw some branches at the lion but this did not move it off. The two and the dog then backed away (no running is a rule that they did obey) to a higher trail back to the parking lot. The lion followed them part way. Dogs are great, but don't make them bait.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Skunked in Solitude or Catch in a Crowd

Skunked in Solitude or Catch in a Crowd

     In a place like Cheesman Canyon catching and releasing a nice trout almost seems an afterthought. The boulder filled, pine lined canyon is a photographers, hikers and fly anglers dream. I've fished this canyon in every season and have always been astounded by it's awesome beauty. 

     Brad on the other had fished it once. He laid down the criteria for a good day as "not being skunked","hooking big fish", and "no crowds." He only fishes on weekends so the "no crowds but less than 2 hours away" rule limits us to difficult places to reach.

     In Cheesman Canyon and along the Deckers stretch downstream, a fly angler has to make the choice of risking a skunk in solitude by trekking far from the parking lot or fishing in close proximity to others and catching and releasing smaller more plentiful fish with a short trek. 

     I know there are nice sized fish in Cheesman Canyon and if you're willing to hike an hour, the solitude should be good, even on a Sunday. 
     Guide Pat Dorsey's Blue Quill Angler's stream report gave us fair warning;
                 "Currently, fishing is fair in Cheesman Canyon. Low flows are producing tough, yet rewarding fishing, for those anglers who like to work hard for a few fish." 
      I'd fished with Pat and Fred Miller this summer so I was sure I could show Brad the same places, using the same flies, and certainly catch some of same nice fish (larger now of course). WRONG. If I'd asked Pat what I did wrong I know he'd say; "You fished the same flies and places." Actually, I couldn't even find the same places the flow was so low. Nothing looked the same. 

We did however spot some nice fish. But getting a fly to them without spooking them in this shallow water was nearly impossible. We were of course careful to stay out of redds and not interfere with the brown trout spawn.  
     See if you can spot the brown in this video. Can't spot it? Maybe that'w why you don't catch many fish in Cheesman Canyon. Keep looking. It is clearly there.
     Pat Dorsey reported that, "Anglers can expect to see a good a.m. midge hatch, followed by a sporadic blue-winged olive hatch mid day (1-3 pm.)." We did indeed see a good midge hatch and a very steady  bwo hatch from 11:30 to 12:30. Brad switched to dry fly bwo imitations and hooked two nice fish briefly (under the 8 second requirement to count as a Trout Unlimited in-stream release.) I stuck with a pegged egg and foam backed size 20 emerger and hooked one for even a shorter period deep in a cut below a boulder. 

     As we trudged back along the Gill Trail, (thank you very much Cutthroat Chapter of TU) we soon encountered an increasing density of anglers. Observing them from high above on the canyon trail out, some obviously knew what they were doing but did not seem to be hooking up, and some obviously did not but weren't hooking up either. 

     "Well Brad," I said, "You can't argue with the great solitude we enjoyed. I didn't see another angler all day."
     "True," he said. "But I hate getting  skunked."

Detailed instruction on how to get here,  fish this water, and get back to the airport or a Bronco's game can be found in my eBook guide:
"Fish Before You Fly, Denver's Cheesman Canyon."