2021: First Quarter Review

We’ve had one hell of a start!

With only seven days remaining in March, I thought it might be time to take a quick look back at the first quarter of the new year. While a quarter doesn’t seem like very long, it has been an eventful three months for this angler, and this blog, so let’s take a look back.

A Mixed Bag State of Mind

As previously addressed in my Roadside Ditches & Mixed Bags post, I’ve entered the New Year intent on taking a Mixed Bag/Life Listing approach to my time in the field. This has meant more time testing new patterns, exploring new places, and targeting new species. And with the various club and organizational challenges out there, I’ve had no lack of motivation along the way.

Roughly 12 weeks in, the result has been consistent weekly forays into the field, if only for a lunch break. I’ve visited old favorites, prospected new honey holes, and had some eventful days that had nothing to do with the fish. The results, to say the least, have been outstanding.

With nine months left to go, I’m over 40% of the way to my goal of 25 species on the year!! Among the 11 species landed to date, two are lifers: (1) Bowfin & (2) Striped Mullet!!

Better still, I find myself with a strong lead in the Kistachie Fly Fishers’ Mixed Bag Contest with a number of “common” species still to check off my list. While my goal of 25 species is still a long way off, I’m feeling increasingly confident that it is an attainable number.

In fact, had I managed to land either of the common carp I’ve coaxed into taking a fly earlier this month, I’d already be sitting on an even dozen to start the year.


On the Vise

Lest we forget, this is a fly tying blog first and foremost. And by no means has the vise been forgotten during the first three months of the year. Since January 1, more than ten new Step-by-Step tutorials have graced the front page of this blog including a few “old reliables” and others novel to the author.

Carp Patterns have made multiple appearances as have nymphs, dries, and a few streamers. We’ve even begun expanding our “Proof of Concept” on recent posts to include running lists of species caught on each pattern. While it will take some time, be sure to check back through your favorite patterns in the pattern index as similar lists will be added to each.

In the meantime, however, click on any of the images below to check out any tying tutorials you may have missed.

The Bunny Leech Step-by-StepThe Clouser Minnow Step-by-Step
Baby Leech Fly Step-by-StepPrimordial Carp Stew Step-by-StepClouser's Swimming Nymph Step-by-Step
Wulff Dry Fly Step-by-StepHare's Ice Dub NymphThe Elk-hair Caddis Step-by-Step
The Zebra Midge Step-by-StepThe Crease Fly Step-by-Step

The Months Ahead

With spring officially upon us and the last cold front of the year (hopefully) behind us, my primary drive will be directed towards improving upon my strong start to the year. While I still have a few common species (Green Sunfish, Speckled Trout, etc) left to check off this season, we’re quickly approaching uncharted territory.

Along with the aforementioned common carp, that means I’ll be making April day trips…

  • northwest in search of my lifer Chain Pickerel,
  • southeast in hopes of checking the invasive Rio Grand Cichlid off my list,
  • and toward the marsh in hopes of finally landing two barred quarry (the Sheepshead and Black Drum) that have thus far eluded me.

If even two of these have been checked off by May 1, I’ll qualify it as an absolute success.

With May on the horizon, life will then open further as the prospect of legitimate travel returns with vaccination (Thank you Louisiana!). While no flights to far flung destinations (be they salt flat or western tailwater) are yet in the cards, the Florida panhandle and a long overdue road trip to New York are. While the former offers the prospect of gulf surf on the fly (and the various tying tutorials that will stem from my preparation), it is the latter I want to highlight here.

Though the twenty hour trek to upstate New York will be part leisure and part family visit, a four-day stretch in the middle will be dedicated to pre-fishing and participating in The Mayfly Project’s first annual 25 on the Fly tournament.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

A nationwide charity tournament, The Mayfly Project’s 25 on the Fly challenges anglers to pair up in an attempt to catch, video and release as many of the 25 eligible species (Above Left) as they can within a two day window (5/22-5/23). In essence, the tournament (based on the original Mile High 25 format) takes the Mixed Bag concept and turns it into a nationwide scavenger hunt! To compete, teams will need to be constantly on the move. Changing locations, pivoting tactics and swapping flies throughout as they shift from targeting brook trout one moment to tiger musky, striped bass, or common carp the next.

While I’ll be heading north to team up with my cousin Jake for the event, it is a nationwide tournament, and I would encourage everyone to consider participating regardless of where you live. Beyond being an excellent challenge for those interested in Mixed Bag fishing and Life listing, it also supports a great cause and presents the opportunity to win some great prizes provided by Sage among many others. Check out the link above if you’re interested.

I’ll certainly have more to share once the event has passed, but I won’t be giving away too much more about our plan of attack in the interim.

Till then, keep an eye out for some new Step-by-Step tutorials. And hopefully, a few local field reports if my April trips go according to plan.

Tight Lines

Chris


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