Finally, after a gray and cold offseason here in Jackson, WY the weather is transitioning to its warm summer patterns. The late spring sun is thawing out some of Jackson’s high alpine lakes giving fly fisherman like myself an opportunity to fish for hungry trout which have not seen a fly in months.
This past week I took a long drive and short hike and arrived at one of my favorite Yellowstone Cutty lakes only to find 95% of it covered in ice. Fishing was slow in the morning but as the sun started to burn through the clouds the fish were congregating and actively feeding in the small pocket of open water that I was fishing. For several hours I caught countless Cuttys ranging from 14-23”. Nearly every cast resulted in a hard fighting, colored-up Cutt, and after losing every pheasent tail that I owned I decided to call it a day.
The following morning my roommate, Chris Marchetti, was anxious to head up to the lake and try to catch his first sizable trout. We spotted a small Grizzly Bear on the side of the road and after taking a few pictures we continued on to “Lake X”.
Upon arriving I was amazed to see that more than half of the lake was free of ice. We were able to land a few small fish in the morning but fishing was slow so Chris and I took an early lunch break and let a pursuing storm pass while we refueled on gummy worms and lukewarm coffee. After the storm passed and our candy was devoured we were back on the lake where the trout seemed to be more active.
We caught a few more small cutthroats and towards the end of the day I heard a yelp from across the lake “Rudy I got one…. it’s big”. After a five minute tug of war battle Chris was victorious and landed a beautiful 23” fish. After he released the beautiful specimen I began to walk back to the hole I was previously fishing when I heard another yell from Chris requesting the net for a 22” cutt that he hooked and soon after landed. We had a short celebration and started our short hike back to the car in complete bliss.
Bolivia Posted on 23 Jan 13:33
I remember watching videos of Larry Dahlberg fishing La Zona and seeing massive Golden Dorado viciously attack top water baits like I have never imagined before. With that show the dorado immediately jumped on my bucket list of fish I “need” to catch. Five years after that show my dad informed me we were going to Bolivia to target the Dorado. It was a successful and amazing first trip so it was no surprise we opted to go back for a second time.
Just like the year before my Dad and I anxiously waited in Santa Cruz for an early flight out of civilization and into the headwaters of the Amazon. After a two hour flight over the dense Amazon rain forests we landed in one of the most remote parts of the world, The Isiboro Secure National Park. The Bolivian government protects this area, making sure that its beauty and wildlife is protected.
Our guide informed us we were going to explore some untouched water the following few days. After a quick dinner we condensed and got our gear ready for the trip down the Secure River.
The following morning we jumped in a dugout canoe and began our journey down river. During our drift downstream we threw Deerhair Deceivers and caught dorado varying from 2-18 lbs. As the sun started to set we reached the tributary we intended on fishing for the next couple days, the Agua Negra.
With the diminishing light we had we hurried our way up the small Agua Negra until we reached a large sand bank which we made home base. While setting up camp I noticed one of our local guides battling something on the bank of the river. I walked towards him and noticed he was battling a large fish on a hand line which was nearly pulling him in. After an intense tug of war battle a large Surubi catfish ended up flapping on the beach with the guide standing proud by its side.
The next morning I woke up to to the smell of catfish cooking on the fire and the noise of dorado slashing baitfish on the river bank, what a start to a day. After a quick breakfast we started venturing up river. When the sun rose high enough it was easy to see why it was called the “black river”. The rivers was full of Sabalo, which carpeted the floor making it appear black. Each run that appeared deep enough we fished and caught several fish up to 15 pounds.
At the end of the day we reached a beautiful deep pool that had a school of Pacu that were feeding on falling nuts and leaves from a group of trees above. I tied a large nut imitation on the end of my line and spotted a cruising Pacu. I placed the fly in the path of a Pacu and we watched him effortlessly slurp the fly down. After a hook set the fish shot around the pool until it found a log jam that it wrapped itself in hopes of breaking the leader. I knew that I had to act quickly to beat the fish and I decided to jump in the water to unwrap the fish and line from the log jam by hand. After a few seconds of swimming and untangling I surfaced with a quality Pacu that we quickly took photos of and released.
The sun was starting to set so we started our drift downstream to our campsite on the way we caught several hard fighting Yatoranas including a trophy 6 pounder that my dad caught.
On day three we headed back up the Secure River to the main camp stopping at the occasional pool to fish. Fishing was fantastic and my dad landed a 20 lber and we both caught several “teen” size fish.
That night after filling my empty stomach I ran down to the home pool to take a few casts. The rivers banks were dark enough that I couldn’t see the tip of my 9’ rod but I could hear the river boiling with feeding fish. I swung a fly through the pool and was immediately rewarded with a hard strike. I knew it was a big fish but I didn’t realize how big until I beached it - a mid twenty pound fish which we quick photographed and released .
The following day after a 10 minute flight we arrived at the second camp.
We were excited to fish the middle beat of the Pluma river, which provided us with some of our biggest fish the year before. Unfortunately we consumed too much coffee and coca leaves that left us jittery; we fished poorly that afternoon and lost several beautiful fish.
The following day we were off to fish the Itirizama. Ramiro Baddeschi, our guide for the day, started us off with a long walk through the jungle to the upper section of the beautiful Itirizama. After a couple hour hike we were rewarded with giant dorado feeding furiously on helpless salbablo in every pool and run we encountered. I couldn’t tell you how many fish we caught that day but I can tell you it was one of the most memorable day of fishing I’ve ever had.
That night a cold front moved in and the following morning we woke up to a climate we were used to in New England. After a slow cold day I had little hope of catching any sizable fish when my line started peeling off the reel at a rapid pace. After a run that dumped over a 50 yards of backing I knew I was locked into a big fish. After a long fight the fish finally came to hand. It was estimated to be a high-twenty pound fish, my personal best Dorado. Making it a perfect ending to a perfect trip.
The following morning my Dad and I jumped on our flight back to the USA, sore and tired, with unforgettable memories.
Tanzania Posted on 16 Jan 15:03
As my dad and I left Dar es Salaam on a flight to two of the most pristine and wild rivers in the world, the Ruhudji and Mynera, I couldn’t help but feel excited. After peering out of a small plane window for two hours and observing the beauty of the African bush below, I noticed a small landing strip that was nothing more than a burnt down field. We were met by the guides and hopped on the back of a safari vehicle and I realized I was in a world far different than my home in New England. It was a very entertaining and bumpy drive into a secluded valley where we arrived at our first camp.
At camp I quickly rigged my rods, unpacked my gear, and ran down to the bank to get a couple casts in before sunset. After receiving a few short strikes my guide and I noticed a big wake that was pushed towards me as I retrieved my fly. I was preparing for a second cast to the area the wake came from when my guide Sven said calmly but firmly, “It’s probably best you get out of the water”. He then told me it was as likely to be a crocodile as it was to be a big tiger fish. He then told me a story of a woman that was recently taken by a croc while cleaning cloths in a campsite not far from where we were staying. After hearing several stories of peoples fatal encounters with African wildlife at dinner that night I realized that I entered the food chain once I stepped into the bush.
That night between the noise of the wildlife, intense heat, and the excitement for the fishing that was going to take place in the morning I barely slept a wink. Despite my lack of sleep when the sun rose I was alert and ready to fish. After a quick breakfast we headed out on the mighty Rhudji. Within minutes of fishing we drifted past a log jam that was teaming with on the aggressive tiger fish. My first cast into the structure resulted in mayhem and a school of tigers chased and slashed at the protein shake and suddenly I felt a solid strike. After a quick but violent fight I reeled in and released the first tigerfish of my life, which I was stoked over but barely raised an eye brown out of our guide who referred to my catch as a “rat”. I was awed by the fish’s power, speed, and how mean these fish appeared and was shocked when I was told it was only a four pounder and that it was possible we’d catch them five times its size.
The following two days on the Rhudji we caught several fish up to ten pounds, the top flies being the Protein Shake, Flashy Rabbit, and Hot Head. The guides claimed that the fishing was slow but I was fully entertained by the wild life, and surroundings. Monkeys watched us from the trees, hippos kept us from fishing certain bends, and crocodiles were sunning on most beaches we crossed.
On the last day at the first camp we were feeling fatigued from taking between 800-1,000 casts a day with heavy 350 grain lines using large baitfish patterns. We were about to call it an early day and start our drive to our second campsite on the Mynera river when I heard my dad say “Hold up, here comes a big fish” as he set the hook to a substantial resistance. After several jumps and powerful runs the 14 pound fish was landed. With morale high I was ready to get back to camp but Sven suggested that we fish until the next bend. Only a few casts later I locked into a large fish and after a great fight a 13 pound fish was netted for a quick photo and release.
On the first day at the second camp we were rewarded with several fish up to 14 pounds .
The next morning our guide, Andy, told us we were going to the rapids to some spots that have only been fished once before. My first chance at a large fish came in a slow deep run with a sunken tree that was home to a pack of nice fish. After a big fish struck my Flashy Rabbit I was forced to apply maximum pressure to keep him out of the structure and to set the hook firmly in the fish’s mouth. When everything seemed to start going well the line went slack and the tiger was gone. Devastated, I went to check my leader and found out that the Gamakatsu SC-15 3/0 straightened out on me (this hook is known as one of the strongest hooks on the market). Both Andy and I just shook our heads knowing we had been defeated by a large fish and that there was nothing we could have done about it. Andy was confident that there would be more shots if we could find access to a bank with enough open area for a back cast.
After a little bit of searching we found a croc slide that led to a small island we could easily wade to and cast from. Both my Dad and I tossed our Flashy Rabbits into the slow run and went tight quickly. Unfortunately it was one of those mornings where if something could go wrong it would and we both lost several big fish.
After lunch we found access to the tail end of a big pool and experienced a magical afternoon. On my first cast a huge fish surged out of the pool missed the fly. After two more casts with the same result the fish seemed to be getting wise but on my last cast the fish ate and was running full speed downstream. The fish ripped line through my hand quick enough to give me a line burn across all four fingers I was applying pressure with. After a few minutes of chasing, slipping, and fighting the Tigerfish came to hand and weighed out at 18 lbs, my largest fish of the trip.
After a little bit of searching we found the mother load of tigers and caught several in short time including a 17 lb my dad landed.
Our final day started off with a bang, as I landed a 10 lb fish on the first bend. We caught several other small fish and soaked in the Africa’s beauty for remainder of the day.
After returning to camp on the final evening we packed our bags said our good byes and prepared ourselves for a 40 hour journey back to the States.