Canyon Lake, Arizona -
“Wanna go fishing?” To a fly fishing junky, these words are irresistible ear candy. Maybe it’s the compulsive need to catch fish. Maybe it’s a spiritual need to be near water. Maybe it’s simply an excuse to get out of hanging the Christmas lights for one more day. Whatever the reason, the answer is always an enthusiastic… “yes!”
When Tom Horvath, David Hwang and I decided we needed to squeeze in one more, last minute, fly fishing trip before the holidays, we figured we were probably not the only ones who needed to get out. So, we invited the gang from our monthly fly-tying sessions to join us. We spend a lot of time in Tom’s conference room, month after month, tying flies and talking about fishing. Therefore, an outing like this was probably long overdue. We sent out an e-mail and, just like that, 17 likeminded junkies came out to fish with us this past Saturday.
Thanks to our mild Phoenix winters, we are fortunate to have have quality fishing available 365-days a year. With this in mind, we chose to hit the Boulder Recreation Site located on Canyon Lake for it nearby proximity to the valley and for its seclusion. Canyon is a big lake and can be intimidating to fish from a personal watercraft. The Boulder Recreation Site, however, is a moderate sized cove located behind the Canyon Lake Marina. This cove is restricted to non-motorized watercraft only, making it an ideal location to fly fish from a pontoon or float tube.
When we arrived, the temperature at Canyon Lake was comfortably crisp. The sky was slightly overcast and a few trees still had their fall colors. This made for a picture perfect December morning on the water. The fishing however was not quite as spectacular. The bluegill bite was sporadic — going hot and cold all morning. Regardless, the ones willing to take a fly didn’t seem to be all that selective, as long as it was small and was dangled right in front of their little fish faces. The bass on the other hand were a little trickier to locate and more finicky in general. Maybe it was the cold spell that had came through the week before. Maybe they already had plenty of “real” food available to them. Maybe they simple were not impressed with how well I tied my Clouser Minnows. All I know is, for the first couple hours, I couldn’t buy a bite.
Then I heard Joe Staller report over the 2-way radio that he and Dave Weaver had picked up a few small bass at the other end of the cove we were fishing. Not being proud, I decided to kick down to fish the water they had just abandoned in hope that my luck would improve. Along the way, I got a chance to chat with Doug Amos, Larry Kivela, Carl Rutherford, Tom Russo, Tom H. and Skip. Tom H. shared with me a new fly he had recently tied called a “Crease Fly” and suggested I try one out. I gladly accepted his offering and kicked on.
A little further down the way, I caught back up with David H. who was into a school of bluegill. I stopped to join him for what would be more laughs shared than fish caught. Mostly at my expense, as I rightfully earned the “Small Fish of the Day” title. After all, it’s not every day someone successfully lands a 4-inch largemouth on a 3-inch streamer. David H. and I would eventually salvage the day once we got down to the marina area. We trolled in-and-around the boat docks and canyon walls successfully picking up a handful of small bass. Mine were all caught on the Crease Fly, which I had received from Tom H.
Later, back at the parking lot, everyone compared notes and determined that no trout were landed and agreed that overall it was a rather tough day. Afterwards, despite the mediocre fishing, Bob Harrison, David H. and I decide to reward ourselves with a big juicy hamburger from Tortilla Flats. The three of us all ordered the “Bullrider”, which is one of the best burgers around in my opinion. Topped with bacon, cheddar-jack and green chilies, along with a side of fries, it definitely hit the spot.
Down the road, those hamburgers will probably prove to be more memorable than the fishing itself. That said; the social aspect of these types of fishing days is still hard to beat. For that reason, I am grateful to everyone who came out to join us. It’s always a great experience to be surrounded by people who share a common bond and enjoy being on the water.