SAO Pages

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm A Wanna-Be Trout Bum.....Part III

When I first started learning how to fly fish, all I dreamed about was catching trout in as many states as possible. I was mesmerized by Fly-Fisherman Magazine! I would cut out all the trout photos and put them in a journal of places and species I wanted to catch. Watching Joe Humphreys completely school Babe Winkleman with a fly rod in the mid 1980's on TV set my young mind into overload.

Today that urge is still as strong as the day I laid hands on my first Martin rod and reel combo from the local tackle shop. The cost was just $35.00, or to a young kid, about two weeks of mowing at five bucks a lawn. A week later I bought my first flies. That assortment was made up of the Muddler Minnow in standard and marabou versions, a few Montana Stone Fly nymphs (heck they were from Montana they gotta be good right?), a couple of Mickey Finns, and a pair of Adams and Elk Hair Caddis dry flies. In my mind I had finally become a fly fisherman! I just wish someone would have told me you needed to buy backing for your fly line, not to mention that you needed to secure your fly line to the reel?

My first "Trout" on the fly rod just happened to be a very large Elk Creek Steelhead, which proceeded to tear ass down stream and promptly take my entire fly line with it! This is the point where a young middle school aged boy looks downstream with a pretty big "WTF" grin on his face! Thankfully a gentleman fishing below me was able to retrieve my line, and out of kindness at least secured it to the reel...

Over the next 8 years Jason Gregory and I would ride our scooters, ten speeds, and mountain bikes to all the local steelhead tributaries and stocked trout streams in search of the next trout fix. Along the way we learned how to tie our own flies by detouring over to Folly's End Fly Shop for free fly tying classes with local legend Clyde Murray. I was on cloud nine, and in the best shape of my life, as a 10 mile bike ride was worth exploring rumors of a few small wild trout in a stream located in some farmers field in the middle of "BFE"! As we got older, possessed drivers licences, were able to fly, and we were able to explore streams that were always out of reach, I finally realized that my dreams were finally within my grasp! Always willing to learn and listen to rumors of big trout has now landed me in the west, and in honor of my youth and my childhood dreams I have been fortunate enough to have landed and released trout in 16 states. I only hope to complete this "Trout Bum" dream before it is too late.

Brett McCrae casting dries on Wyoming's North Fork of the Powder River.

Brett is rewareded with a heavy North Fork Powder River Brown Trout!

Wyoming has become a very special stop for me! It's a fly fishing destination worthy of visiting every year, and holds the potential for stalling my goal of catching a trout in every state they still swim. The trout fishing, scenery, and people here in Wyoming are so inviting that it haunts my dreams when I am long gone. I guess dreams are for just that...

Taking the time to take in the beautiful scenery along
the North Fork of the Powder River.

Posing with a feisty North Fork Brown Trout
from the run seen in the photo above.

A close up of a beautifully colored Wyoming Brown Trout!

The North fork of the Powder River is a terrestrial insect haven. The undercut grassy banks, and willow sections of the stream offered exceptional dry fly fishing with big foam bodied flies. The splashy takes while drifting under the willows, or over sections of wood debris made me yearn for this type of action back home. Watching large trout track a dry fly out of a five foot deep pool, and eat the fly in reverse is what brings me back to these small waters. If my trout bum journey would have to end on these waters I would not be disappointed. Here are just a few of the Brown Trout we caught on that day.

Casting foam dries under the willows in search of Brown Trout.

This is an example of an average sized fish for these waters.

Brett poses with another solid Brown Trout.

Even a guy like me managed a few really nice fish!

If Brown trout like this on large dries doesn't get you
excited, please find another hobby!

Hope to see you next year a few inches bigger!

Stay positive, keep learning, live your dreams no matter what they are, and ignore the comments and things that are negative in nature. After a few days of fly fishing, no matter the location you should feel right with the world around you...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Making Memories in the Salty Sun

Last week I had the good fortune of leaving the kids with Grandma and Grandpa and heading to the waters of the Atlantic in northern Florida. The primary purpose for getting away, was time with my beautiful bride, but when there is water and sun, we both have our own ideas of fun. She tends to be a sun goddess, while I, well, I think you understand! I need fish!

I had done some homework and came ready to fish for just about anything that I could get a chance at from fishing the surf to fishing the sound. Much to my dismay though, I arrived to find the beaches a very poor option for fishing sport fish of any kind on the fly. It was a good thing I brought the box of surf rigs with the rods to go along with it, because Whiting and small Sharks was all that was available.

With some shrimp, a couple of surf rods, some sand spikes for holding the rods and time to spare, I wore out the small Whiting and occasional shark from the beach. All in all it was really just a way of passing the time until the fly rod could be assembled and flies put into the air.

A Horseshoe Crab shell lays on the beach along Amelia Island.

Prior to coming down, I had made some calls and sent some emails out to see if I could locate any contacts in the area. As I had read, the Amelia Island area was a great fishery for anything and everything given the time of year. What I was excited to hear though, was that Tarpon could be had...and good size Tarpon. As luck would have it, I was able to make contact with a fine guide and new friend, Jeff. Jeff Crumpton operates Amelia Island Charter Fishing and is an Orvis Endorsed Guide in the region. Given the nature of business in the area, he fishes both on the fly and with light tackle. He does however have a lot of experience fishing and guiding on the fly and spent a number of years with operations in West Virginia around the Elk River and Slaty Fork. He is a skilled fly casting instructor and has fished across the country and beyond for both fresh and saltwater species.

Jeff was a great aide in getting me out on the water in search of a few more personal firsts on the fly. If you are ever in the area, give him a shout and have him take you fishin''ll have a great time for sure. More on fishing with Jeff in a minute....

Captain Jeff Crumpton of Amelia Island Charter Fishing
poses with a nice fly caught Speckled Trout.

Before I could make it out with Jeff, I had some time to beat around the beach, get some sun, and try my hand at surf fishing with the bait rigs and surf rods. One thing was certain didn't matter what rod was in my hand, all I could do was dream about that one fish that still haunts me....the silver king...the poon...the mighty Tarpon. Well, I guess one of two...can't forget that haunting Permit either.

At any rate, I spent some time on the beach and got a couple of more species of shark under my belt. I never got anything big, but I saw them for sure. Here are a few picks of what I caught within casting distance of the beach.

A small Black-Tipped Reef Shark that hammered some cut bait.

Hammerhead Sharks were also very present and typically
ran larger than the Black-tips. However, this as I have now
learned was not a Hammerhead, but a Bonnethead Shark...
learn something new every day! Interesting creatures to say the least!

The Bonnethead Shark from the front.

Well, every chance that Jeff had (when he didn't have charters booked), he tried to get me out to experience the fishery he has come to love. His bread and butter in the area is Redfish (aka red bass, red drum, puppy drum) and they do abound. But like any fish, they can be elusive and finicky. Jeff loves to fish the flood tides for tailing reds and I can now say I know why. I love fishing flats and the spartina grass flats are awesome when the flood tides show up.

The first night I got out, Jeff took me to fish the flood tide. The problem was that we couldn't find any tailing fish. I had one shot at a Sheephead, but it quickly ended. We covered a lot of water and then at the final hour as the tide was starting to drop back, I spotted tails. With time running out and fish moving to the flats edges so as to not get caught out of water, I made my move. I wish I could say that my moves were well received, but I only had a matter of a few minutes before these fish gave me the fin and moved off the flat. It was a beautiful sight to see that spotted tail breach on the flat, and quite frustrating to have found it so late in the tidal movement. But....that is fishing!

Patrick Robinson stands on a spartina grass flat looking
for those beautiful spotted tails of the hard fighting Red Drum.

The next day was the day I had been waiting on. It was my shot, hopefully, at Tarpon. While fishing the surf a couple days earlier, I had watched as a large "Poon" launched itself from the water a couple hundred yards off the beach. He was large and I had dreams of sticking one just like him.

Much to my dismay, Jeff and I ran miles and miles of beach and jetty looking for rolling fish and we just couldn't find them. Bait was scarce and therefore finding those beautiful fish was that much more difficult. Not to mention that a nuclear sub had just gone to sea earlier totally screwing up the fishing in one of the prime areas (not quite sure how to get around that one). After exhausting all the angles, we had to admit defeat and change tactics if we were to get the skunk off for the day. So, out of the big water and back to the sound we headed looking for anything from Specks, Blues, Reds, Sheephead, etc. If it would take a fly, we were looking for it and throwing to it.

As luck would have it, late in the day as we were looking for staging reds next to the grass flats, some fish moved in and starting cutting bait. I was in the cage on the front of Jeff's Ranger center console and had the fly in hand. All it took was one cast with a mullet imitation and BOOM! FISH ON! A couple minutes later I had a nice Speckled Trout in hand. In fact, it was my first fly caught Speckled Trout, so another species, check...

Patrick with the skunk replacement fish. A nice
Speckled Trout to start the day.

As the bait continued to rocket out of the water to escape the carnage beneath, I quickly returned my fly to the water. As I stripped the fly in, I had a huge swirl appear near my had been a near miss! I left the fly in the water and pulsed it one more time hoping for the return and sure enough, in a split second, my fly disappeared and the fish bulldogged for the bottom.

I don't know a lot about salt species, but I did know enough to know this was not a Speckled Trout on the end of my line. Instead, we quickly resolved that this was most likely a Bluefish. When the line came up and the fish came to hand, sure enough it was a face full of teeth. Bluefish were breaking bait on three sides of us and you couldn't cast fast enough.

A nice Bluefish slammed the mullet fly and put on
a bulldog kind of fight for me.

Before it was all said and done....actually, before we pulled off to take one more shot at finding tailing Reds, I busted one more nice Speckled nicest of the day.

A gorgeous Speckled Trout in the hands of a happy man!

One last time, the flood tide decided to roll up in the spartina grass and we were quick to follow in hopes of finding tails dancing in the waning light. The first flat that a friend pointed us to came up empty. However, fisherman's intuition quickly came into play and Jeff and I agreed that if fish were to be found, we would find them on an adjacent flat across the channel.

As the sun was quickly setting we rushed across the way to check the other flats. We pulled up and within thirty seconds had spotted a couple of tails. I wasted no time jumping out into the water and making my way across the flat. The pressure was on...I only had a few minutes of light remaining and one target out in front of me. With the tail in the air, I tried to get the fly on his nose. Time and again, it was short, left, right, fish moved, fish disappeared. The water was about knee deep, so the fish could disappear with ease...especially in low light. I continued scoping the remaining reflections of light looking for the silhouetted tail and at every sight, fired a cast in hopes of my first Red.

One last shot on the spartina grass flats looking for
tailing Redfish...A very addictive part of our wonderful sport.

Much to my chagrin, that Redfish gave me the fin (again) and disappeared into the night. As I walked across the flat in the darkness, with my head held low in defeat, I realized how fortunate I was to be here...knee deep in water, ankle deep in mud, fly rod in hand, with fish on the flat. How many others would have swapped places given the opportunity? As I get older and experience more of what God has created around me, I am finding that it isn't always about catching the fish as it is the pursuit. I am blessed to have had the shots I had and a new friend to share it with.

In just a short time, Greg and I will be in Alaska looking for Salmon, big Bows, and one of our favorites, Arctic Char. Until then, I will be poking around looking for some Bass in Tennessee.

Get out if you can and we hope to see you or hear from you soon!

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm A Wanna-Be Trout Bum.....Part II

Driving toward the Red Fork of the Powder River, I felt like a big'ole fat Labrador sticking his head out the window and slobbering down the side of the jeep. At this point I didn't have a care in the world... I was just smiling! The history of this place is as intriguing as the wild trout that inhabit the water running through its red canyons.

Where we would be fishing is located in the middle of no-man's land between the towns of Sheridan, Kay-Cee, and Buffalo. It was here in these hills that the famous Butch Casity and the Sundance Kid would make their escape from deputies and local law enforcement after repeated robberies of the towns local banks, and by just looking at the terrain I could almost imagine how crazy the outlaw horses must have been during the chase, and why they were so successful at getting away!

Traveling to the Red Fork of the Powder River, and admiring
the hills and canyons in the back ground that made history
by the fabled outlaws Butch Casity and the Sundance Kid.

The Red Fork of the Powder River ranges from a width of 20 to 40 feet, and is littered with runs and pools from 3 to 6 feet deep. The river banks are virtually all undercut several feet back providing excellent cover for holding trout. The area was also covered in bug life. Everything from caddis and golden stones, terrestrials such as ants, grasshoppers, and cicadas were also present and abundant.

Even during the heat of the day the water ran cold, and the rivers resident trout are always looking up... Big dry flies are the preferred offering here, and there is no need for a dropper! As long as the presentation was good the fish would eat. Foam flies such as Chubby Chernobyl's, Cartoon Hoppers, Foam Golden and Brown Stone flies, Chernobyl Ants, and Fat Albert's are a perfect choice. The Red Fork's clarity and size offers you an up close and action packed dry fly take, where you have the best front row seat to watch it all go down!

The Red Fork of the Powder River as it winds through the red canyons.

A beautiful Red Fork Brown Trout that took an orange/brown
foam stone fly imitation.

The Brown Trout here are spectacular fighters on fly tackle.

The orange markings on the Red Fork are some of the most vivid I have ever seen.

The Red Fork also boasts a healthy population of Rainbow Trout and Cut-bows. Even though the primary species where I was fishing seemed to be primarily Brown Trout, it was great to see the occasional Rainbow Trout or Cut-bow eat your fly and go completely airborne on the take.

A fat little Rainbow Trout from the Red Fork Powder River.

Stivey with a solid Cutbow that smacked a large foam hopper.

Another awesomely colored Brown Trout! Most of the fish we
caught on the Red Fork averaged 14- 16 inches, with several
opportunities at fish between 18-20 inches.

A Head shot of an 18 inch Red Fork Brown Trout, that fell for
a Golden Chubby Chernobyl.

Another brilliantly colored Brown Trout! The Red Fork provides
excellent opportunities at beautiful fish on big dry flies.

Stivey poses with another hopper caught Cutbow.

A Close up of an average Red Fork Brown Trout.

After an epic day it was time for a burger and a beer!

Stay tuned for part III and pictures of our biggest fish of the trip!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm A Wanna-Be Trout Bum.....Part I

I'm like most fly-fisherman, I constantly day dreaming about Steelhead taking a swung fly, or that big western Brown Trout gulping a Chubby Chernobyl off the surface in spectacular fashion. I desperately need to be a trout bum for at least a short period of time before I loose my mind... Of all the things one can be addicted too like drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and porn, I choose fly fishing as my everyday high, a way to maintain my sanity, a short release from responsibility, and a special balance in my life. Without fly fishing I would not be the person I am today... Thankfully my dealer came through and my fly fishing fix this summer would come just in a nick of time!

The first time I seen the Big Horn Mountain Range I took it for granted... The second time around I spent as much time as I needed while taking in the spectacular scenery. Not only is it an amazing sight, you feel at peace, and are able to think about all the important things happening in your life. 

My trout bum week would take me to Saddlestring, Wyoming to the HF Bar Guest Ranch and the home of Rock Creek Anglers. As some of you know- fellow steelhead guide Brett McCrea makes the HF Ranch his summer home and provides seasonal guide services for RCA.        

A welcome sign for any angler looking for the opportunity to fly fish for big and wild trout!

I have seen or visited nearly a 100 fly shops across the nation, most of them in there own right are really great shops that carry the latest of everything and anything available from the fly fishing industry. The only problem is you really don't feel like you are anything more than just a customer. When I stepped into the fly shop & bar at Rock Creek Anglers I felt like I was in the company of anglers, guys who live the trout bum life, and more importantly guys who excepted and welcomed the intrusion of a Wanna- Be like myself... Not only did Rock Creek Anglers have what you needed in gear, they treated you like you where apart of there family, and as a welcomed, and long lost fishing buddy who has finally come home.... It's a special place and I feel extremely fortunate to have been there! Just take a look at the fly shop and bar in the next three photos, and if you can't understand where I am coming from, you should seriously consider getting your eyes checked.... 

The fly fishing RCA provides can be summed up with this phase. It will be the best western dry fly fishing you can possibly imagine for big and wild trout! This was the second year I have fished with RCA and the dry fly action and trout fishing seems only to get better every year. Put it this way- the week was fishgasmic and I will need at least 3 blog entries just to get it out of my system! Here are just a few shots to nibble on until the next entry...  

Brett Plays a nice Rock Creek Brown Trout that took a Gold Chubby Chernobyl.

I told you it was a nice Brown Trout!

Another nice Brown Trout that took a large Deer Hair and Foam Stone fly.

I love the colors in the adipose fin of a Brown Trout.

I like big bold spot patterns too!

I enjoyed every moment down to each release...

And at night there will be good music and cold beer! If this is the type of experience you are looking for, let me know because I will be going back next summer, and I am looking for a couple more wanna-be trout bums to go with me!

I will have part II up in the next few days, so check back often... Trust me when I say this is just the Beginning! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Headin' West... Have A Great Holiday, And Try Not To Blow Off Your Fingers......

I'm out of here!!!! If you need to book a trip, order flies, or just have a few questions please shoot me an email at, and I will get back to you on July 9th when I return.

Wyoming bound! There's just something about big Brown Trout,
big bugs, and big landscapes! If you are looking to head out west, this is
definitely a fly fishing destination worth looking into...Rock Creek Anglers

Looking forward to a few of these this week!

Stuffed my Marc Crapo Custom Leather Fly Wallet

A few Mike Schmidt's Skinky Mayos and Red Rockets, Mike Schultz's
"The Nut", and a few of my own Shag Minnows and Shag-A-Bous
looking forward to being chomped to bits by hungry trout!

I'll have more when I get back!