I’ve decided to change the name of this blog. For years it has (mostly sat dormant) gone by the title On The Fly. I still like that name. It makes as much sense as it did 6 years ago, although I’m not entirely convinced there aren’t tens of others out there going by that name or variant of it.
What will I change it to?
I have no idea. Actually, that’s not true. I have a handful of ideas with one I’m particularly leaning towards, but I do think it’s necessary to make sure I don’t limit the focus with what I’m trying to do here [insert laughing/crying emojis here].
I absolutely despise writing about things I’m going to do. That’s a really productive way of never doing any of them. I already feel like there’s enough of that in my life as it is so the idea of committing to or starting something I’m even slightly hesitant on seems unnecessary.
One thing I do know is that I’m going to change the name of this blog, and hopefully rethink or recommit to whatever it is I want or might be able to do with this space.
Many aren’t familiar with summer in the deep south. 90-degree temps are pretty normal anywhere during the summer. Heck, folks in NYC get those kinds of temperatures. There’s one thing that accompanies our heat that many don’t get to experience.
That experience is the humidity.
For the uninitiated, humidity can make 72 degrees feel like you’re breathing in the air a dog is exhaling out, and 90 degrees can feel like that same dog just climbed out of the pool and laid down on top of you.
Anyway, summer is here, and it has come with a vengeance.
This really changes up how we approach fishing. Early morning and late afternoon are good times to go looking for bass.
Another often overlooked time for bass fishing this time of year is the middle of the night. The biggest bass I’ve ever caught in my life was in the middle of July around 2:30 in the morning. Planning around weather patterns and lunar cycles can aid in fishing during the dead of summer too.
So what do you do when the sun is high and the skies are clear?
Well, I propose finding other fish. I’m specifically talking about fish that are often overlooked as sportfish. You know, the ones affectionately referred to as “trash fish.”
Enter: the trash hatch.
If you follow me on any social platform, especially Twitter, then you know I have a special like for carp on a fly rod. These fish are meant to be caught using fly tackle. They can be sight-fished but are incredibly spooky. Carp will take a fly but only the ones that are eating. Not every carp you can see is going to bolt for your fly.
They are very finicky.
Carp will stretch any fly fisherman’s abilities to its limit. They plain flat out aren’t easy to catch and have often been compared to redfish with the personality of a bonefish, hence the nickname “Golden Bone.” Also, did I mention they’re big? Yeah, size-wise and fight-wise. They’ll pull you into your fly backing before you realize what you’ve done.
Another species I’ve recently become acquainted with is the gar.
My recent encounters have left me wondering if pound-for-pound the gar isn’t one of the hardest fighting fish I’ve dealt with. These dudes are flat out ferocious:
The sheer unrelenting-not-giving-up-go-to-hell-ness of trying to land one is just absolutely incredible. They’re maniacal and yet an absolute blast to fight on a fly rod! Gar can dance like a tarpon all the while leaving you with a nagging uneasiness about whether or not it’s going to shred your net and steal your wallet.
I think you get the picture. There are fish that are often overlooked due to their lack of perceived “sportiness.” This is true whether fishing conventional tackle, but often much more in the fly fishing circles.*
Before we finish this discussion we do need to address the elephant in the room. If you’ve read any of these posts** then I know what you’re thinking.
“But what about Catfish?! Are they considered part of the fly fishing ‘trash hatch’ too?!”
I dunno. I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.
*I began to fly fish with a love for bass, an arguably already marginalized fish by many fly fisherman’s standards. Ever since then I’ve spiraled out of control into the neverending void that is catching unregarded species of fly fishing quarry. Help me.
I’m trying to avoid any kind of “how-to” here. There are many ways to do this and while I believe some are better than others many are surprisingly the same. Still, we all have a preference.
Among the many options of cooking fish you can:
Fry (whole or fillets)*
Grill (over charcoal or over ignited unholy canned gas)
You get the picture.
I’ve done 4 out of the 6 mentioned and I have to say that hot smoking is by far my favorite. I haven’t the time nor the talent to cold smoke anything.**
Of all the species I’ve caught and cooked I’d have to rank them as such:
There are several species of fish which I have not tried to clean and cook yet. The one that sticks out most in my mind is Perch. I’ve often heard that Gar is delicious if you have the tools and willpower to prepare them.
Tweet at me or comment below and let me know what your favorite fish is and favorite method is to prepare it!****
*Fried fish is always first
**I can’t imagine anything that isn’t Salmon would be worth cold smoking anyway
***They can’t be separated. They’re both delicious and belong in the top spot. Deal with it
****Even if your favorite method is to catch and release and then go to McDonald’s
There are many great qualities about catfish. Mainly they’re absolutely delicious. Fried or grilled I’ll take fresh catfish any day of the week!*
This brings us to a topic I’d like to discuss/think about more at a later time. That is cleaning and cooking your catch. Catfish make that aspect of fishing extremely rewarding! It’s one of the greatest perks of being an angler.
Not to mention there are many legends who’ve come before us (relatives, friends, preachers?) to perfect their catfish recipes.
We all can only aspire to one day earn the title of “Catfish Preacher”
Pictured Top left: Brother Windsor who catches and cooks catfish from the Tallapoosa River to hold an annual fish fry at a rural church in Chambers County, AL
The probability that a warm water fly fisherman reading the title to this post is going cross-eyed in bewilderment is very high.
“You’re complaining about catching catfish on a fly rod?!”
“You’ll catch overgrown goldfish all day, but turn your nose up at a catfish?”
Let’s talk for a moment.* Catfish are great. They’re delicious. On bamboo pole (single cane not Tonkin) with a bobber and a tin of earthworms, they make for an enjoyable afternoon.**
On a fly rod, catfish are surprisingly disappointing. There’s a slew of factors to consider, but what makes them ultimately disappointing ties back to the fish’s attitude.
Catfish have zero fight in them.***
Once you both realize what’s going on (you’re aware it’s not a stump and it’s aware something’s yanking on it) there are about 5 minutes of the fish rolling around and that’s pretty much it.
All of a sudden you’ve got it pulled up next to the bank staring at you. At this point, you begin to realize you’re going to fight more with the fish to get him off of the hook to save your fly than when you were pulling it in.
It’s almost like every catfish ever has already been caught and they know the drill. You’ll pull them in and fight with taking the hook out of their mouth, which won’t be easy because they’re covered in skin, not scales, and you’ll let them go because you probably didn’t try to catch them anyway and even if you were and decided to keep them they’ve accepted their fate and probably had a good run anyway at least they ground down the threads on the fly you were fishing with and probably wrapped your leader around an underwater stump and scratched it all up yadda yadda yadda yadda…
I’m not saying catfish aren’t worth catching. Depending on how motivated and hungry I am I might say the exact opposite.
But on a fly rod? I’d rather have an 8″ bluegill or 1/2 lb bass.
* By “talk” I mean read this opinion
** No way I’m waking up early to go catfishing.
*** I’m talking about channel cats that are generally less than 5 lbs. I’ve never caught anything bigger on a fly rod. I’m sure the +20 lb flatheads and so on are a different story
I thought that leaving Nashville would be a good way for this blog to die. Not because I wanted it to, but because for some reason I thought it would be appropriate.
“Why?” you ask*. I have no freakin’ clue. I didn’t hate blogging. I also didn’t stop fishing. If you’ve followed any of my social media accounts you’d know better. In my mind, it just made sense to stop writing about what I was doing and just do more of it. That makes sense. Right?
I believe I achieved my goal. I also want to start back writing about it if only just to help me process the things I have and will continue to learn.
Life has changed in many ways since leaving Nashville. Between having our first child and spending more of my time on the Hooch I believe my perspective has shifted.
I can’t promise this will come often, but maybe more frequently than once every 5 years.
*No one is asking this question. I’d be surprised if anyone even reads this post.
The table is empty, with the exception of a few knick-knacks, but still the cleanest it has been since it became my designated fly tying desk.
Is this related to the big news I referenced in the previous post?
I’m cleaning up the fly tying bench because on Saturday morning we’ll be leaving middle Tennessee. I could bore you with the details of jobs, housing, etc., but I don’t really feel like it. Chances are if you’re reading this then you have my number so call me and I’ll explain further.
It’s a good thing.
I will miss the many waters of middle Tennessee (Harpeth, Percy Priest, Stones, Caney Fork). I’ve yet to really review my trip with Tommy, things have been so hectic over the last few weeks/months, but one thing we discussed at length was just how many unique fishing opportunities one has in/around Nashville. Warm water, cold water, tailwater, still water fishing is all within a 5-45 minute drive from where you are. I’m going to really miss the ability to pick from such a variety.
I’m going to really miss visiting the guys at Cumberland Transit on Saturday mornings. Those mornings really taught me so much about fly fishing, fly tying, and rod building that I’d never received from anyone from any other shop I’ve frequented before. They certainly seemed to have adopted me for the brief time I was here, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. Fortunately, I’ll have one more Saturday before I go.
Easily the most difficult thing about leaving will be leaving behind all the wonderful people we’ve met and become great friends with. That’ll be reason enough to come back often. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to fish a little too.
P.S. The table may be clean, but the drawers are still full of crap.