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The Excitement of Multi-Species Lakes, with Captain Drew Price

Description: This week, my guest is captain Drew Price [56:13], an expert on fishing large, multi-story, multi-species lakes. Drew has pioneered methods of catching unusual and fascinating freshwater fish like bowfin, gar, and freshwater drum. He also loves to fish for trout, bass, and carp but there are days on his home water, Lake Champlain, when those popular fish may not cooperate. And it's fun to fill your life list with new species, some of which may live in your own back yard. If you're looking for a new challenge, want to escape summer's crowded trout rivers--or if your rivers are too warm--learn about how you can fish large lakes for all kinds of cool fish.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, and welcome to the "Orvis Fly-Fishing Podcast." This is your host Tom Rosenbauer. And this week, my guest is my friend Drew Price. And Drew is one of my favorite fishing buddies. And, you know, I've been around for a long time, fly fishing a long time. And I'm lucky enough to have some really terrific people that I love to fish with.
And Drew is a very special person. Drew has taught me that I have got some amazing fly fishing in my backyard. For, you know, close to 45 years, I pretty much ignored Lake Champlain to the north of me, which is a giant lake between New York and Vermont. It has all kinds of different species in it. It's a beautiful lake. It's big and it's intimidating. But Drew has taught me to appreciate this resource that is, you know, about an hour, between an hour and two hours depending on where I'm going on the lake from my home. And I've just learned to love it so much.
And Drew has taught me so much, so many different unusual techniques of fishing for these various species, everything from bowfin, to gar, to freshwater drum, to lake trout, to pike. And so I wanted to get Drew on today to talk about fishing a multi-story lake and a multi-species lake. A lot of you are, you know, close to one of the great lakes, or one of the big southern reservoirs, or Midwestern reservoirs, or West Coast reservoirs, that offer all kinds of different opportunities for fly fishing under the right conditions. So I asked Drew to come on and tell us how to approach this on a great big intimidating lake. So hope you enjoy it. I always enjoy talking to Drew and I hope you enjoy our conversation.
But before we get to that, let's do the Fly Box. And the Fly Box is where you ask me some questions or you make some comments. And if I feel that your comments are of interest to the rest of the listeners, sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't, or if your questions are something that would benefit other people that are listening to the podcast, then I'll read them on the air. And you can either send your question to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. via email and just type your question in the email. Or you can attach a voice file if you would like me to consider reading your question on the air.
So think about when you ask questions to the podcast, think about hey, is this gonna be valuable to other people listening to the podcast, you know, people from all over the world? I think we have...I don't know, there's something like 200 countries where the podcast is downloaded. So, you know, there's people all over the world. So think about, for your questions think about something that will help someone else that's in your situation because that's what we wanna do here on the podcast is to try to be helpful to people and to help them enjoy fly fishing more and have more fun when they're on the water.
So without further ado, first question is from Ryan. I wanna thank you for everything you do for fly fishing and answering all of our questions on the podcast and having great guests. And also thank you for answering my previous question about a tough Colorado tailwater. I haven't been back there since but I'm armed with the tips you suggested and I have no doubt I will land some fish.
I have another question though and it is about Alaska. I'm very fortunate enough to be traveling there in August and would like to hear any tips or advice. How do you pack for trips, things I should not leave at home, tackle, flies, etc.? I know that August is rainy and I have Orvis rain gear so I should stay nice and dry. Do you recommend a waterproof bag backpack and how do you recommend to pack waders? Anything you can think of really. This is my first big fly fishing trip, so any of your wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Also, for some info, we won't be hiring guides but we'll be traveling in an RV and we'll be doing most of our fishing on the Kenai Peninsula and the interior near Denali. Thank you so much, Tom. Wishing you tight lines.
So this is kind of a borderline question because it's, you know, borderline for something that I feel I should answer on the podcast because it's sort of open-ended, you know. If I had a lot of experience with Alaska, I could do a whole podcast on Alaska. But wait, I did a whole podcast on Alaska. I think it was...oh, it's been in the past year or so, Ryan. I did a podcast with an Alaska expert on planning your Alaska trip. So first of all, I would recommend that you look at that podcast look back in the archive.
In general, if you're going somewhere that you haven't been before, there are a number of things that you need to figure out. First of all, Alaska in particular, when are you going fishing? Because you could be encountering anything from 40-pound king salmon to, you know, smaller grayling and rainbow trout. So, you know, what time of year, what rivers are you gonna be hitting? You need to know what species you're gonna be encountering because you might want anything from a 4 weight rod or a 5 weight rod for grayling up to a 10 weight for those big king salmon.
Regarding waterproof bag or backpack, I would recommend waterproof everything that you can possibly think of for Alaska because yeah, it rains there. But it rains lots of places. You could also hit, you know, 80-degree weather in Alaska depending on when you're there and what the weather pattern is so you need to have clothing for cold weather and warmer weather. The one thing you don't wanna forget is insect repellent and lots of it. Alaska can be very, very buggy, but it can also be very sunny so don't forget your sunscreen.
What else? How do you travel with waders? Well, honestly, you know, you can buy a wader bag to carry your waders in. And if you're traveling by didn't say if you're driving your RV all the way to Alaska, or you're gonna rent one when you get there. But if you're traveling by air, I wouldn't use a wader bag just because it's extra bulk and it's extra weight. What I do, personally, is I put my waders and my wading shoes in my duffel bag and check them. And I make sure that I pack a couple garbage bags with me.
Big heavy-duty plastic garbage bags because chances are when you go home, they're gonna be wet. And if you're flying home...this is if you're flying. If you're flying home, you can just wrap them in the garbage bag, put them in your duffel. Just make sure that when you get home, you take them out of the garbage bag and don't leave them laying around getting moldy. But, you know, if you're driving, yeah, one of those wader bags would be great if you're driving all the way to Alaska. But if you're not pack some garbage bags.
And in general, in a trip where you don't know what you're gonna be encountering as far as flies, I would take everything you have. First of all, I would take everything you have. If you don't have a lot of flies and you're gonna need to get flies for a trip like this, then what I would said you're not gonna hire a guide. But there's lots of lodges in Alaska and often the lodges will post recommended equipment and flies for their lodges, or guides and outfitters will recommend it. And you can look those up online and figure out what flies you're gonna need.
Also, I would always take more leaders and tippet than you think you're gonna need because that's one thing that I often run out of. You know, I'll look at my tippet spools and say, "Okay, I got, you know, whatever, tippets I need 2, 3, 4, 5, 6X. And then I'll get on a trip and realize that I've used up almost all my 5X and there's no fly shop nearby, and I'm out of 5X tippet. So make sure you have extra tippet, extra leaders. For Alaska, you're gonna probably want both floating and some sort of sinking line. Sink tip line, polyleaders, depth charge line, again, depending on what you're fishing for. But don't forget some sinking lines.
And also, you're probably gonna wanna document this trip because it sounds like it's a trip of a lifetime. So don't forget extra camera batteries if you use a dedicated camera. And if you're gonna shoot all your pictures with your cell phone, make sure you take a portable charger, even one that you can carry in your fishing bag because you don't want your phone to run out of juice if you're taking pictures with it in the middle of the day, and catch the fish of a lifetime.
So those are some of the things that I either tend to forget or underpack on. You know, if you're not flying and you don't have a weight restriction then I would overpack. If you're flying, then you gotta make some value judgments on what's most important to you on that trip. So hope that helps but need to do a little bit more homework. And I wish I could tell you more, but I've only been to Alaska a couple times in my life so I'm not an expert on Alaska, but lots of other people are.
Here's an email from I forgot who this is from. I didn't write it down. Sorry about that. First, a friend recommended the "Old Duck Hunters" series of books from the 1940s and 50s by Gordon MacQuarrie. Despite the title these books contain lots of short stories dealing with fly fishing on the Brule River in northern Wisconsin. Very enjoyable and something your listeners might enjoy.
Second, I recently received from my sister some of my dad's old Wheatley fly boxes filled with flies from the 1930s to 1950s. As you can imagine, many have deteriorated badly, but I've cleaned and salvaged some and mounted for display in Riker cases. Lots of fun stuff in there like early bass bugs and propeller nose flies, etc. I received a box of unused flies from that era. McGinty [SP], Wickham's Fancy, Granam, Cahill, Professor, Black Net, etc.
Interestingly, almost all are in size 8. I must have inherited my preferences for using sizes 12, 14, 16 and staying away from those 18, 20s, 22s that are so difficult to tie and to tie on. I noted in the MacQuarrie stories that stealth tactics surprisingly use large flies and heavy leaders like size 8 on 3X. Was that just the way things were done back in the day when almost all fish were killed or did the preference for smaller flies come in with catch and release?
So it's a really interesting question. Back in those days, there are a number of things that were going on. First of all, there wasn't as much fishing pressure. So trout were not as suspicious of flies. A lot of these, particularly in places like Northern Wisconsin didn't see a lot of flies, so they were probably willing to grab almost anything and so you could get away with size 8.
Another thing is that in those days, they use gut leaders, drawn silkworm gut leaders, and it was difficult to get a leader smaller than 3X. So they just didn't have the, I mean, the modern fluorocarbon and monofilament that we have in 4, 5, 6, and 7X just in existence then. So they just couldn't use a lighter leader and they had to make do with what they had. Another issue is that they were mostly swinging flies. And a fine leader is not that important when you're swinging a fly because you constantly have a tight line and you're not worried about dead drift as much and you could get away with a heavier leader.
And the other thing that you wanna remember is that back in those times in the 40s and 50s or 30s to the 1950s, most trout anglers gave up trout fishing around June 15th. They didn't fish through the summer like we do now because the fish were mostly taking smaller flies, and they didn't have the right tackle. They didn't have the small hooks available, they didn't have the fine tippets. So they couldn't really fish these smaller flies and they would just give up. They'd go bass fishing or go Atlantic salmon fishing or something.
And didn't fish beyond mid-June when, you know, typically in the early season you had lots of bigger mayflies and caddisflies out there and you could get away with a bigger fly. But, you know, they just quit, they just quit trout fishing. And with the modern tech that we have, we're able to fish for trout all summer if the water temperatures stay cool enough. So, you know, those are just some of the reasons why older flies were much bigger. And we have gotten smaller and smaller and smaller in our flies. Size 8s will still work. Size 12, 14, 16s will still work. But, you know, as you get later on in the season, you're gonna have to go smaller.
Adam: Hi, Tom. This is Adam from northern Arizona. I just got back from the best evening of fly fishing I've ever had. I was catching huge rainbow trout almost as big as my forearms here one after another. And a lot of it has to do with the instruction and information that you pass on in your books and in your podcast. So thank you. I'm still pretty giddy and I got a smile a mile wide on my face right now.
I have a question for you. I was fishing an Orvis Clearwater Frequent Flyer 5-weight with a floating line and extra fast sink tip polyleader with a Woolly Bugger. And I was fishing a small creek that runs into a larger river. The river was very stained, the creek was very clear and I was catching all the rainbow trout kind of right on that confluence where the clear water and the dirty water were beginning to mix.
There were some huge blue suckers were hanging out in the clear water and I wanna get those guys next. I mean I already got enough huge rainbow trout to put a massive smile on my face but getting one of those giant carp would be fantastic. They wanted nothing to do with my Woolly Bugger that was just skimming the bottom. How do I target those fish next? Again, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for all the information and techniques make this day one that I'll remember for the rest of my life.
Tom: Adam, I'm glad the podcast helped you catch some of those big rainbows and congratulations. Yeah, suckers, suckers can be caught on flies. Various species of suckers can be caught on flies. They're probably more difficult than trout to catch on flies. Suckers do...if you look at a sucker's mouth, it is definitely on the lower part of their head. And there's a scientific term for that and the name escapes me right now. But, you know, it's a sucker mouth on the underside of the head.
And so they're built for kind of grazing on the bottom and eating stuff that's close to the bottom. So they can be caught on nymphs. They have a small mouth too. If you look at the mouth on a sucker, it's pretty small. So they know that they can't get a big black Woolly Bugger in their mouth and they're just not gonna eat it even if they see it. They probably won't see it because you're probably not fishing it close enough to the bottom.
So in order to catch suckers, you're gonna need to fish nymphs not terribly tiny, but, you know, probably size 14 is a good size. And you're gonna have to get those nymphs right on the bottom dead drift right in front of those suckers. So you know, your own nymphing is probably one of the best ways to do it with a high rod and a long leader. Or you can indicator fish, although it's a little bit more difficult to get that fly right on the bottom, you can do it. But again, it's gonna be tough to catch those suckers. They're not easy, but you can catch them on nymphs if you get it right in their face.
This one's from Matt. I was fishing a small Michigan stream after a significant storm that turned the trout on big time. They were keying in on active presentations of flies on the swing. I found that a size 8 beadhead leech was triggering strike after strike. However, I only managed to convert 10% of those strikes to fish in the net. Could I have been fishing a fly too big? Was I setting the hook incorrectly for swinging flies? The fish in the stream are a mix of wild browns and rainbows anywhere from 4 to 14 inches. It was an exciting trip out but I wish more fish had made it to the net.
So Matt, a number of things here. One is that you discovered something that, you know, when you have a rise in water and dirty water, you need to have some action on your fly. Dead drifted flies sometimes don't work as well because the fish can't really find them. And when you're swinging a fly, it's a little bit easier for them to notice it even in dirty water. And so that'll work quite well. You often need some sort of either active retrieve or tightline, where your fly is swinging in dirty water so that the fish can find your fly.
Now, when you're swinging a fly, you're gonna get a lot of short strikes and nobody really knows why. Some of it could be fish that were too small to get the hook in their mouth, you know, they might have bumped it. And small fish will often kind of bump and nibble at flies that they know are too big for them to eat in one piece, but they'll try to kind of pick them apart if they can, if they think it's a crayfish or a minnow or something. Or they might sometimes try to stun their prey first before they eat it. So some of it could be due to that.
Some of it could be due to just aggression and territoriality. Sometimes, fish will move for a fly and bump it just to get it out of the way. It's in their space and it's invading their personal space, they don't want it there. And the only thing they have to attack it with is their nose or their body. So they'll just bump it or body block it.
And regarding setting the hook for swinging flies, the best thing to do when you're swinging flies is not to set the hook because you're often gonna pull the fly away from the fish. When you're swinging flies, it's best not to set the hook but just let the fish take the fly. And then once you feel the fish, raise the rod to apply some tension. But a quick hook set will often pull the fly away from the fish.
So any one of those things could have been happening. Don't let it bother you. Particularly with streamers and swinging flies, you're gonna get those short strikes. It's just part of the game. And some days, you're gonna get a lot of short strikes. And it's just the way it goes. You could have been fishing a fly too big. The best thing to do is if you're getting a lot of short strikes or bumps to try to go to a smaller fly or maybe slow down on your swing a little bit. So, hope that helps the next time but if it happens to you again, don't let it bother you. You're not really doing anything wrong unless you're setting the hook on a swinging fly.
Here's an email from Darren. I have two main hobbies, flying RC aircraft, mostly helicopters, but also planes and fly fishing. To make it better, I can do both at the same place. My RC flying field has a small pond with lots of coastal cutthroat in it. Most of them are less than 4 inches long, but they do easily get up to 8 to 10 inches long. I even bought an 8-foot 1-weight fly rod specifically for fishing this pond. There's just no better way to spend a day than to fly some RC aircraft and then finish off with a couple hours fishing for these awesome trout.
Now on to my questions. I usually use dry flies and have been noticing that the fish will often attack it but miss. I've even had them attack the fly several times. I'll set the hook but nothing. These are not just gentle approaches, they're aggressive attacks. Will cutthroat trout sometimes come up to investigate the fly rather than try to eat it or could they just have had bad aim? Most of the time, I think it's the small 3 to 4 inchers that are doing this. I did think that maybe I was using too big of a fly so I switched to a much smaller one but still had the same result. Any idea what's going on here?
This little pond has a lot of organic materials decaying in it. This means that there are often little bubbles of gas that regularly and randomly come to the surface. As I retrieved my fly it's often difficult for me to avoid those gas pockets coming to the surface. Should I be concerned with them? Do you think the fish would avoid these bubbles? When my fly suddenly ends up in one of these surfacing bubbles I often wonder if that would ruin the presentation and scare the fish off, or could I be overthinking this?
So Darren I'll answer your second question first. Yes, I think you're overthinking it. I wouldn't worry about it. Regarding the dry flies and the fish as I...are you guys noticing a pattern here on people missing fish? Everybody thinks it only happens to them. It happens to all of us, believe me.
With a dry fly, though, you know, as I said before, small fish know, if they're coming up for like a big green drake mayfly or grasshopper, they will sometimes pick at it a couple times. I've seen small trout pick at the legs of a grasshopper of a big green drake mayfly as it's going down just trying to at least take little pieces off the fly or maybe to make it small enough so they can swallow it.
But I think you got another thing going on here. I think that the fish are refusing your flies. And an aggressive rise often means that the fish has come to the fly and has suddenly at the last minute decided something's wrong. And that seems to make a splashy rise because they're saying, oh, oh, no, not gonna eat it. And they get excited and they burst through the surface, but they never open their mouth.
So they're refusing your fly for some reason. I would try an even smaller fly. And, you know, in moving water, it's often drag that causes these refusals. But obviously, in a pond, you're not doing that. If you're moving the fly, I would try maybe just letting the fly sit and watching the fish rise, seeing if you can pick up a pattern in trying to put the fly in front of the fish and then just let it sit there.
In situations like that, I'd try an even smaller fly, or I'd try a small nymph. And you can strip a small nymph very slowly in front of these fish. You know, a small like a size 18 pheasant tail or something on a light leader, maybe 6x since most of these fish are small. Little tiny pheasant tail and strip it slowly in front of the fish. That may work better than a dry fly. So hope something there helps.
Oh, let's do a phone call. This one's from Tyler from Utah. Well, Tyler, those are really good questions. Usually, if there's no place to set down my rod...and, you know, if I'm just changing flies, I just stick the rod under my arm and that seems to work all right. I mean, sometimes can stick it in your waders or they actually sell these clever little holsters that will hold your rod when you're changing flies. But if you're changing a flyer or a leader, you know, usually you can just tuck the rod under your arm.
If you have to pull a line out of your rod tip and you have to put the rod down, I usually do one or two things. And you're right. You don't wanna put it on rocks because rocks are sharp and they can scratch you nice reel or your rod. Probably won't hurt your rod but, you know, you don't wanna set down on a rock. So what I do is I usually look for a bush or a tree that I can balance the reel on and I'll put my rod hanging in a tree or hanging on a low bush or something like that.
If you don't have any trees or bushes nearby, what you can do is most of us are wearing hats when we fish. Just throw your hat on the ground and then put your reel on the hat and that'll keep it from getting scratched. Rods seldom scratch. So it's mainly the reel that you wanna be careful of. So just put your hat on the ground and go from there. Hope that helps.
Oh, and your second question. Sorry, I almost forgot. If you know there's sediment on your nymph like weed or anything else, you wanna always take it off. There may be times when a fish will take a nymph with weed hanging off it but it doesn't happen very often. And of course, you never know if you have weed on your nymph or not. But I think it turns a fish off because they're used to not eating weed. They don't wanna eat weed because they're not vegetarians, they don't get any nutritional value out of weed.
So if you have anything at all on your fly, you need to clean it off. And sometimes it's annoying. In certain streams where it's really weedy you may have to clean your fly almost every cast. But it's definitely gonna be detrimental as far as I know. And I would take it off every time, every time you can. Sometimes a quick false cast will whip the weed off your flies, but it's always best to double-check. And I know it's annoying but I think it's gonna pay off.
Here's an email from Jeff. I live in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Started fly fishing last year and absolutely found a passion that I'm sure will stay with me for the rest of my life. I wanted to thank you and Orvis for all the great information you provide for new fly fishers. My question is regarding how spooky brown trout react when you get close to them in the river.
I live near the Grand River, which is an amazing brown trout fishery. There's a river access near my home that is fairly heavily fished by locals. I was standing in the river there a few weeks ago and had several 18-inch brown trout that were within 8 feet of me. They were staying fairly stationary so I ended floating many flies past them with no success. I tried dry flies and nymphs with no success. They would actually move out of the way when I managed to almost bounce went off their noses.
I left rather frustrated but determined to try again. I went back a week later and the same thing happened. Bright sunny day and one swam very close to me and stopped for approximately 15 minutes. I tried everything in my fly box I had to get it to take a fly with no success. I even tried a mouse pattern and it was ignored just like the other flies.
My question is, is this normal for brown trout in heavily pressured waters? I always hear the term spooky trout on your podcast and in your books, but always assumed it meant they would scurry away and hide. These trout could care less that I'm standing in the stream beside them. They just don't seem to want anything to do with a fly. The stream is approximately 3 feet deep and fairly slow-moving at this point.
One other question if I could. My wife and I are going to Nashville in October, and I'm wondering if you have any recommendations for a great place to go fly fishing near Nashville? I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Take care, Tom.
All right. So, Jeff, I'm gonna answer your second question first. No, I don't know of any great places to go fly fishing near Nashville. And I'm not the person to ask. There is a great Orvis store in Nashville, and they're gonna know exactly where to go near Nashville at any given time in the year. So either before you go to Nashville or when you get to Nashville, stop in the Orvis store. In fact, it's probably better if you go in person and ask them where to go fly fishing in Nashville. You may wanna call them beforehand to find out what kind of fish there are, whether it's bass or trout or stripers or whatever, freshwater stripers. But definitely always wanna check in with a local fly shop or Orvis store before you go.
Now, the first question I can answer or at least I can speculate. You know, when I say spooked, there are degrees of spooking in trout that I have observed over my lifetime of fly fishing. And one, there's a kind of a first degree where you make a cast, the fish probably hasn't seen you. You make a cast. And, you know, after observing a lot of fish over the years, they get a little nervous. You see them kind of shake and then they'll sink down a little bit in the water column maybe a little deeper or they'll move off to one side. And then they'll start feeding again usually fairly soon afterwards.
So it was just a little, you know, like a leaf falling in the water sometimes spook them or a shadow of a bird going overhead if, you know, not too big of a shadow, they'll just kind of pause for a minute. And then there's where you'll spook a fish and usually, this is when they see you or when you make a really bad cast and they will move into deeper water or someplace they feel a little bit more comfortable. And then there's a third degree where they actually scurry off and hide under a rock or a log. So there's various degrees of this and you've made the fish nervous for one reason or another.
Now in heavily pressured waters the fish have learned that humans...they've learned that humans aren't a threat. They see so many people that if they stopped feeding when there were people nearby, they never get to feed or they'd start to feed after dark or very early in the morning, which they sometimes do. But they've learned not to associate people with danger. It's a lot like, you know, cows on the bank of a trout stream. The fish get conditioned to cows or beavers, you know, beavers in the water. I mean, beaver is a large mammal, but eventually, the fish realize that beavers are vegetarians, or at least the beavers aren't gonna bother them. And they'll feed right with a beaver swimming right through a pot of fish, they'll just keep on feeding. So they learn that these things aren't danger.
But they do learn to associate artificial flies, or leaders, or whatever, or a person standing next to them with an unpleasant experience of being poked in the jaw with a hook and then dragged around by their mouth for a couple of minutes and then released in the water. It's a traumatic experience for them. So they've somehow learned that, you know, if they think a fly is artificial they're not gonna eat it because they've been caught and released before.
So yeah, those fish might not bolt away for a log, but they still know you're there, and they're a little bit on guard. And those flies that you're throwing at them, they're kind of suspicious that maybe that's not something they should eat. So they're not scared enough to swim away in fright, but they're also just not gonna open their mouth.
Now, the other thing is, those fish may just be in a comfortable spot and they're not feeding. You know, you talked about bright sunny day, sometimes fish in the middle of the day, fish don't really sleep. They find a comfortable place in the river and just kind of zone out. I don't know another way to describe it. They don't actually go to sleep with their heads down or down in the mud or under a log or something. But they do sleep in their own way. They could be just sleeping. Maybe they've had too much to eat.
But I think that the fish just know you're there and they're gonna be a little suspicious. Fish like that can be caught and generally, you know, sneaking up on them as best you can so they don't know you're there using a small fly and a light leader. And then fishing just before dark those fish can often be caught. They lose their caution when the light is low or early in the morning, right after sunrise. Or, you know, when you get a rainstorm and the day gets dark and the water gets a little dirty, those fish are gonna be a lot easier to catch.
But generally, it's difficult to catch those fish that you can stand right next to. Sometimes a small nymph will do it. Sometimes a small nymph on a light tippet will do it. But yeah, it's very common in heavily pressured streams and I don't doubt that they were extremely difficult to catch, or it's impossible to catch at least when you were standing there.
Here's an email from Jason. Quick suggestion/tip and a question. On your Paul Broom podcast, a caller on the Fly Box segment inquired about proper rod storage. And I agree with your response in that it really does not matter how you store your rod upright, laying on the ground, six one way half dozen the other. As long as they are in the rod socks rolled up properly and stored in tubes, they'll be fine.
To pile on with a suggestion. Over the past five or six years, I've put a small silica desiccant pack in my rod tubes. I may be a bit obsessive but it provides me with a sense of security that I'm doing everything possible to keep my tackle dry. I not only do this with my rod tubes but I toss them in my fly boxes, sling bags, and unused reel cases that do not contain any line.
Additionally, I store most of my rods in an old army duffel bag. It works great for your four or more piece setups and the fact that you can keep the rods consolidated in one area of your dwelling easily transportable. Meaning you don't have to carry your rods like firewood from one place to another and secure the opening duffel can be closed with a padlock. Today, I can get about 14 four-piece rod tubes in one duffel, and the longest ride at 9.5 feet. Just conveying to you and your listeners an approach to store and preserve their tackle.
On to my question. Along the same line regarding storage, my question is with respect to hook storage on fly rods. Is there a reason that most of your heavy-duty salt warm water rods 7 weights and above do not have hooks storage loop above the grip in the butt section like you see in 6 weights and below? My assumption is that it has to do with the large hook sizes that you're using with those types of setups but not sure. I was recently pond hopping with my 7 foot 11 inch Orvis recon 8 weight chasing bass and small channel cats carrying a float tube on my back and found it somewhat of an obstacle not having a hook storage to loop on the rod when I was on the move. Not criticizing the rod. It is one of my favorites and I understand there are other methods to use when it comes to hook storage on rods. Just curious.
So Jason, great suggestion on rod storage. And the silica gel packets are a great idea because you get them in all sorts of products, even food products, and it's a shame to just throw those things out. Might as well use them in putting them in fly boxes and reel cases. And in rods it's great because if you put away a rod wet, it's really not gonna damage it, but you could get mildew and mold in there and it's pretty unsightly. Not gonna hurt the rod at all. But it's good idea just in case there's any moisture in there. So great idea. And thanks for that tip.
Regarding hook keepers. This is a hot button with me. I think a hook keeper is the most useless thing to put on a fly rod. And a lot of people disagree with me, so you're only getting my opinion. First of all, the reason they're not put on bigger rods is because that is one more thing for a line to catch on when a big bonefish, or permit, or tarpon is running and pulling line through the guides and things are flopping all over the place if you're not careful. And the line can catch on the hook keeper or even when you're casting and the winds blowing the line against the rod, the line can catch on the hook keeper and it's a pain in the butt. And it's a useless appendage, I'm sorry. It's like an appendix.
Most of us fish leaders that are longer than our fly rods. And when you're walking from one place to the other, if you use a hook keeper, you have to reel the line to leader connection inside your guides or your rod. And I don't care if you're using the smoothest connection possible between your fly line and your leader. That can still catch on one of the guides on the rod. And it can be a pain to pull it out through the guides or at the very worst, you can actually break a rod by pulling straight down when you're trying to get the leader and line out of the rod.
So because most of us use leaders that are longer than the rods, the best way to do it, and the way the way I do it, and the way all my friends do it, and the way all the guides I know do it is to hook your fly on one of your guides, stripping guide or one of the snake guides, and then just loop your line around either the reel foot or I like to loop my line around the sides of a reel. And then when you are ready to fish, you just take that line from around the reel and you actually just tap your rod with your finger and the fly will usually drop from the guide and you're ready to fish. You don't have to pull that leader line connection outside of your guides. It's just the handiest thing going.
In fact, somewhere on YouTube, I've got a video on how to do this. So anyway, I think hook keepers are worthless and they're an unnecessary appendage. And I know I'm gonna probably get some emails about this but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Use your rod guides. They're much better hook keepers than a hook keeper.
Here's an email from Grisha. Long-time listener and big-time fan. It's the offseason now in the rivers in Victoria, Australia. And I have been loving some fly fishing bass fiction for my winter reading. I have read the novel "A River Runs Through It" by Norman MacLean and the story "Big Two-Hearted River" by Hemingway. Wonder if you had any suggestions for my next read.
Also, me and my dad are taking our first overseas fly fishing trip this year for his birthday to Slovenia. We have hired a guide for two days but we're wondering if you or any of your friends and colleagues have had any experience with fishing in this country. Hope you're well and thanks for all the information that have helped my dad and I along with our ever-fulfilling fly fish learning journey.
So Grisha, you know, I actually don't know of any fly fishing-based fiction other than "The River Why" by David James Duncan. You know, there hasn't been a lot of in my opinion good fiction written with fly fishing as a theme. And it's kind of a lame thing to base fiction on anyway, there's lots more interesting things in life to base fiction on.
But you mentioned two great ones. I would add "River Why" by David James Duncan. But if you like that kind of writing, there is some great nonfiction essays that have been written by fine writers. Anything by John Gierach, anything by Jim Babb, or Ted Leeson, they've written some wonderful books. Wetherell has written a number of books on fly fishing, essays and books. Nick Lyons has written some great fishing stories. And, of course, Tom McGuane is probably in my opinion and that's so subjective, but the best at fly fishing nonfiction essays. And his book, "The Longest Silence" is probably one of the finest books that's ever been written about fly fishing. So those are some suggestions.
Regarding your trip to Slovenia, I've never been there. I've heard about it. I've seen videos, I wanna go there. The rivers look fascinating. What I would recommend for any international trip like this is to contact Orvis Travel. They're experienced with these international travel destinations and they can give you some advice on it.
Here's an email from Seth from Mackinaw, Illinois. I'm headed to southwest Wisconsin for five days next week and will be fishing some gorgeous driftless spring creeks, several of which are meadow streams known for having some great hopper action. Despite being a fly fisher for over a decade I haven't actually done a lot of hopper fishing. Most of my experience is on Minnesota and Iowa driftless streams and the temptation to use a mayfly dry and a scad is often too strong.
I've read quite a bit on fishing with hoppers and I think I understand the basic strategies pretty well, but I have a few specific questions on gear selection and load-up. I have a 7 foot 9 inch 4 weight Fiberglass rod and a 9 foot 5 weight Graphite rod. Which would you say is a better rod for casting and mending line with hoppers and why?
I'm also still a little lost on leaders. What size and length leader is best for tossing hoppers? Long and fine, short and thick? Do you adjust it based on conditions? Do you change the leader if you use a hopper dropper or should I even be using a dropper if the dry is working? These streams have wild trout averaging 10 to 13 inches, but they're definitely loaded with lunkers too, snagging a 20-inch plus wild brown is not uncommon at all in these food-rich waters. Thanks for everything. And I promise to whisper blame Tom in the ear of every fish I slip back into the stream if your advice puts him on the hook.
So Seth, you know, hoppers are pretty big wind-resistant flies, so long and fine is not the way to go. You're not gonna have any benefit to a long-fine leader because the hopper is gonna splat on the water anyways and you want it to splat. You wanna catch the fish's attention. But I wouldn't go too short.
Generally when hopper fishing the water is low and clear. So I would say not long and fine, not short and thick, but how about long and thick? By long and thick I mean, you know, a 9 to 12-foot leader either 3 or 4X, you can even sometimes get away with 2X. If you fish too fine of a leader with a big air-resistant hopper pattern, it's not gonna turn over very well, it's not gonna always go where you want it to go, and it could also spin the leader on you. So, you know, you can get away with a heavier tippet on hopper patterns definitely.
Dry dropper, yeah, you can use a dry dropper. The issue with dry dropper with hoppers and it works and it works quite well is that occasionally, or sometimes not occasionally, sometimes often fish will come to a hopper and refuse. You know it's a big piece of meat and they're a little bit suspicious of bigger flies. And they will sometimes come and refuse the dry fly and you set the hook and you follow hook them with a nymph. So just be aware of that can happen.
If the fish are really on the hoppers, then you can, you know, forget about the nymph. If they're kind of so-so about eating the hoppers, then yeah, you might wanna try a dry dropper. Another thing you wanna pay attention to in fishing hoppers is there's a tendency to wanna twitch the hopper because the hoppers fall in the water and they kick, but they don't always kick. And I've often found that just dead drifting a hopper, like every other dry fly, works better than then twitching it all the time.
Now, if the dead drift doesn't work, an occasional twitch to let the fish know that that's something alive and it's a hopper might help. But I would start out with dead drift on your hopper patterns The other thing you wanna think about is that sometimes fish will kind of nose a hopper because again, it's something big and they sometimes are a little suspicious. Sometimes they'll bump a hopper with her nose to see if it's fake or real.
And you wanna wait until you actually see the fly disappear in the fish's mouth when you're hopper fishing otherwise...and they may sometimes bump the fly, and then turn around and come back and eat it. So if you set the hook every time a fish just bumps your fly with their nose, you're gonna be scaring them, you're gonna be pulling it away. And if you keep it on the water until you see it disappear in the fish's mouth, you may have a chance to that fish to swing around and eat your hopper pattern. So I hope those tips help.
Miles: Hey, Tom, this is Miles from Massachusetts. I've got two questions for you that are very different. The second one may even be a little bit of a stupid question. First up, many years ago my inlaws gave me a stripping basket as a present. It's of the mesh collapsible variety, similar to what you said actually, last week in your last podcast.
I only use it when I absolutely have to because I have a tendency to get the line tangled. And when I let it out for my next cast it ends up as you know, it gets tangled and it leads me to cut the cast short and distracts me from focusing on the fly because I'm trying to untangle the loops. I know that Orvis sells a molded plastic basket with what I'm gonna call little cones in it that separate the coils. Does that style of basket work better than the type that I have? I'm fly fishing more and more versus conventional so I might need an upgrade if it's gonna help me out.
My second question is when I was a little kid and I would go fishing for a panfish, I would occasionally stick bits of worm, or bugs, or shiners, or whatever in the fish's mouth before I let it go. And in my child brain logic, that was a meal that would give my fish a boost of energy and nutrients that would be making up for the calories that it had burned when I caught it and reeled it in.
So now my 10-year-old son is asking me the same question about this and I was wondering if you knew anything about it, I'm starting to wonder seriously about it. I did a bit of internet research and I couldn't find anything on the topic. But, you know, if it's gonna help trout or any fish recover after being caught, especially in the warmer months, I'd be happy to start bringing along a handful of mealworms or crickets or something. I was wondering what you thought about this. Could it be worthwhile or is it just gonna annoy the fish and they're gonna spit it out after they swim away from me? Thanks.
Tom: So Miles, stripping baskets are sometimes a necessary evil. They're a pain in the butt because they make it difficult to make long strip sometime or fast strips. And they sometimes get in the way. But if you're in a situation where you got a lot of wind or you got a lot of mung or kelp in the water and your fly line is getting all covered with weeds and it won't shoot through the guides then yeah, stripping basket is essential.
Also if you're fishing in the surf, you know, the surf will wash the fly line along your legs and you really need to control that line. So sometimes they're a necessary evil. The Orvis style does...the solid rigid style does work better. We haven't found a collapsible stripping basket that works as well as that solid style.
However, there are disadvantages to it in that if you're traveling by air, you know, it's a big bulky thing to pack into your luggage. And they're easier to pack away in your car but, you know, they do work better. And again as long as you're not having to pack it and travel on a plane with it, it's gonna work better for you.
Regarding your second question, don't try to feed any fish after you've caught it. That fish is traumatized and anything you stick in its mouth is gonna be spit right out or may even choke the fish. They're not gonna eat anything. So that's not a wise idea. Don't try to force feed a fish, you're not gonna do them any good. The best thing you can do is to follow careful and quick handling of the fish and anything else that you do is gonna be detrimental.
So, you know, if you're not familiar with good catch and release techniques, I've got videos on YouTube, on the Orvis YouTube channel, and on the Orvis Learning Center and there's been lots and lots of articles written in the Orvis news blog and also in other publications. So good idea to review those. But don't force feed those fish. Not gonna do you any good.
All right. That is the Fly Box for this week. Let's go talk to Drew Price about fishing for all different kinds of fish in big lakes. All right, I'm pressing the record button because I forgot it the other day when I did a podcast with Benny Blanco. Luckily we were only about three minutes into it because...
Capt. Drew: Oh, no.
Tom: ...I've done entire podcasts and not press the record button so.
Capt. Drew: It's no good.
Tom: And I just woke up. But I think we're good. All right, I'm gonna introduce you. Well, my guest today is Captain Drew Price. We can call you Captain Drew Price now right because you now have your captain's license.
Capt. Drew: I certainly do.
Tom: So Captain Drew Price, you don't see many captains in Vermont.
Capt. Drew: Well, at least not in the fly fishing world. There's a lot of captains on Lake Champlain that troll and jig and do all sorts of other stuff. But as far as I know, I'm the first fly fishing guy that's got a captain's license in the lake.
Tom: And Drew is a good friend and fishing buddy. And I've learned a ton from Drew. I've learned so much from Drew, innovative fly tyer. But what we wanna talk about is what you specialize in, you know, multi-story lakes and multi-species fishing. You guide on Lake Champlain, which is a large lake. It's by far the largest lake in Vermont.
Capt. Drew: Yeah, it's the west coast of Vermont as I like to think of it. But, you know, it's 120 miles long. You know, at its widest point, it's about 10, 12 miles. And, you know, you got about seven and a half trillion gallons of water at, what is that? 98 feet. So there's a lot of water. And right now it's at about 95 feet, and it can be as high as 103 feet. We had that about 10 years ago. So it's a lot of water, it's a lot of water.
Tom: And it's...
Capt. Drew: And it changes constantly.
Tom: And it's cold water. It's what's called a two-story lake. So, you know, summertime in the depths, you've got landlocked salmon and steelhead and lake trout, and Ling...
Capt. Drew: Lots of lake.
Tom: Ling cod and...I mean there's everything in Lake Champlain, right?
Capt. Drew: Oh, I know, you know. And I found that out I wouldn't say it the hard way but Vermont Master Angler program is something that started in 2010. And they had 33 species in the program. And I saw this thing, I was like all these different species that are here in Vermont, I gotta do this. I wanna be the first person to get every species in that. And, you know, some of these things I had never fished for, like burbot and the ling cod that you were talking about and lake whitefish, and cisco. All these things I'm like wow I knew these fish existed. And it was like now, how do I get them?
And I went through the program. It took me eight years to get all of them. But, you know, it gave me a real viewpoint of the diversity that we have, you know, within Vermont but especially Lake Champlain. And Lake Champlain is one of the is the most diverse fishery in New England. We got a bunch of different ecosystems that come together right here. And between all the natives species and the introduced species, we have about 88 species of fish in Lake Champlain. So it's an incredibly diverse lake with a lot of different options for fly anglers. It's pretty awesome.
Tom: And, you know, there are a lot of lakes like this throughout the country. I mean, all the Great Lakes, and large reservoirs in the middle of the country, and the west coast, and in the Rocky Mountains. I mean, there's a lot of places that offer these kinds of opportunities for people, you know, alternatives to trout fishing when the weather is warm, or just something new to do something.
You know me, I love trout fishing, I love saltwater fishing. But I also love, you know, going out for these oddball things. I mean, in the past month, you helped me catch my first gar, and my first sheepshead, or freshwater drum on a fly. And, you know, it's just...I mean, the cool thing is you go to a lake like this, and you never know what you're gonna catch, right? And you have to...
Capt. Drew: You do and you don't right? Like if you know what you're doing and you know what's going on with the lake, you know where to find the fish and when to find the fish. And that's really the key to lakes like these, you know. And this is such a big lake and I put a lot of time in on figuring out what's going on in different places.
And each bay is a little different depending on the time and the year, right? I've got some days that in the springtime, you're gonna find salmon there, and then the pike and bowfin they're gonna start showing up, and the bass will show up. In the middle of summer, you know, you're gonna find mostly panfish there. And then it kind of does reverse in the fall, and, you know, the mouth of the bay might have great lakers in it, might still have, you know, some smallmouth there and even some walleye, you know.
There's other places, you know, I'm know, every time I go out, I learn something new about this lake. And I think that's a great way to always think about a lake like Lake Champlain, where every time you go out, you gotta be a student of that body of water, right? And you also can't...I mean, it's a big body of water. There's a lot to be intimidated by because it is so big and there is so much going on. But you kind of have to break it down into smaller pieces.
It's like trying to eat an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So you start it at one place and you start to get to know one area, and then you start, you know, thinking of other spots that are similar habitat, or you just start exploring and poking around finding what's going on. And, you know, I think that's the thing that keeps attracting me to Lake Champlain. There's just so many things to figure out.
And every year, you know, like, I think I was telling you, the bay that we were fishing in gar the other day, like that bay some years, it is clear, most of the time it is not. Sometimes even when it's not clear, you have great weed growth, and other years you get almost nothing. Like this year, we have almost nothing for weed growth in that bay. But last year, the back end of that bay was just weed-choked and it was a total nightmare to get into. So, you know, I love that. It makes it challenging, it makes it different, it keeps it interesting.
Tom: Yeah, it sure does. And the thing that I've learned and people need to understand is that you kinda have to take...depending on the time of year, you kinda have to take what the lake offers you if you're fly fishing, right? I mean, if I said, let's go fly rod pike fishing on Lake Champlain tomorrow, it would be tough, wouldn't it, because they're deep?
Capt. Drew: It would be tough. I mean, there's places where they're gonna be in, you know, 15 to 20 feet of water, especially the bigger ones. You know, one thing about Lake Champlain with know, Lake Champlain has really been managed for quantity of pike rather than quality of pike. So we don't see a lot of really large pike in this lake. So it's rare to find a fish over 40 inches. So you will find a lot of smaller pikes, those jack pike, the hammer handles in shallow water. So you can go out and catch a pike tomorrow, but it's probably not gonna be much more than 24 inches.
But the bigger fish are gonna know, pike are really a cool water fish. They like water 60 degrees and less the bigger ones. And I don't know about you, I kind of like catching bigger fish so you're gonna have to find those weed lines that are out a little bit deeper. You know, July it's been really hot. You're gonna be looking for water in the 25 to 30-foot mark, at this point, and that's where you're gonna find those bigger pike.
Can you get to them? Absolutely. Is it gonna be pleasant? Not as pleasant as you might like. You know, you're fishing a sinking line with a big fly and, you know, you could certainly do it. I don't do it very much because I have so many other options that are available in July, you know. And I'd rather spend my time in May and early June and again in September, October, November, chasing those bigger pike when they're up shallower, and they're easier access, you know, with sink tip or full floating lines.
Tom: Yeah. And you got sight-fishing at that time of year which is what most fly fishers are gonna want, right, is sight-fishing?
Capt. Drew: Yeah, especially in the springtime. And I keep trying to get you to come up and do that man.
Tom: There's a lot going on in the spring, Drew.
Capt. Drew: Oh, I know.
Tom: Catching...I mean, they're big pike, but they're not huge. And, you know, so much to do.
Capt. Drew: They're not huge. But I got a couple of spots where you can sight-fish for pike that are, you know, between 30 and 40 inches.
Tom: That would be cool.
Capt. Drew: You know, which on an 8 or 9 weight is a blast, you know.
Tom: Yeah. So let's talk about the seasons because the people listening may not fish Lake Champlain, but they may have access, or they may be closer to one of the great lakes or a big reservoir to give someone an idea on how to, you know, effectively fish a lake using fun methods, you know, not sinking lines 30 feet deep, but mostly sight-fishing or shallow water fishing. Talk about how the season progresses and how you target different species.
Capt. Drew: Well, the first thing I would say is to get to know what you have in the lake, right and, you know, checking in with your fish and wildlife department or DNR is a great starting place, right? Then you're gonna have an idea of what your species list is. You know, and there's also a lot of states have like websites that have all that information there. And Vermont has a "Fishes of Vermont" book that you can purchase which is great and just getting to know what's there.
And then doing a little research on, you know, what those fish prefer and what those fish are gonna be up to right? Like in April when I first started hitting the lake, I'm not looking for gar, you know. I have no idea where they are. I don't think anybody has any idea where gar are in April, you know. You might occasionally see one in a wetland area but, you know, they're in the wind at that point.
So, you know, at that point, I'm gonna be looking for cold water species. I'm gonna be looking for those lakers because the lake trout are gonna be in the shallows feeding, you know, and salmon is the same thing. And getting to know temperature preference. And temperature preference is really the biggest element to, you know, what you're gonna fish for and when you're gonna fish for them.
Tom: Yeah, all these fish are cold-blooded so they're gonna be regulated by the temperature.
Capt. Drew: Absolutely, right. So, you know, those lakers when the water is below 45 degrees, they're gonna be right up on top, they're gonna be looking for great ambush points. So that's a great starting place. Landlocked salmon are gonna be looking at wetland areas that are a little bit warmer that has some baitfish. So you get a warm inflow and you get a little marshy habitat, your chances are pretty good that you're gonna find some salmon around there. There's definitely well-known places around Lake Champlain.
You know, in April, I don't even really start thinking about pike in April because until the water hits 50 degrees, those pike, you know, they're thinking about reproduction. I don't target them, let them do their thing. And then, you know, the pike after they spawn they need a week or two of...I mean, you'll see them sitting there, but they're not gonna touch anything. They're just kind of...they're done, they're taking a little rest.
But after that boy, it really turns on. And, you know, that's everything else is starting to turn on at that point. That's when I start seeing bowfin moving around, and the bass are all over the place. You got schooled up panfish, perch are always available. The yellow perch is a ubiquitous species in Lake Champlain. You'll find them everywhere at every depth. And they'll take almost anything. They're surprised...
Tom: They're great fly rod fish. They're so great.
Capt. Drew: They're perfect. Yeah, I mean, you know, I always carry a 3 weight in my rig because, you know, like, I can get big panfish, and we got all these yellow perch, and we got white perch, you know, rock bass, all that stuff. I mean, you know, I enjoy catching almost anything that I can get on a fly, right?
Tom: So do I.
Capt. Drew: Right. And it's fun, you know. I went out the other day, I was looking for carp, and the carp weren't playing. And I was like, you know, I know that this rock wall is gonna have a bunch of rock bass, and I was prepared for it. So, that's kind of another aspect of fishing a multi-storied lake is having the gear with you that you need to be able to successfully fish for multiple species. And when somebody, you know, reaches out to me and says, you know, what do I need for Lake Champlain to fly fish? And if I was going to tell somebody, you know, your starting point is an 8 weight. You know, a good 8 weight with a floating line and, you know, like having several lines is worthwhile.
And, you know, having a good floating line that can throw big flies like the bank shot line. You know, I've been in love with the bank shot line ever since you guys came out with it. It's such a great line for throwing big flies, you know. I use it for pike, I use it for gar. It's great for both and not that you really need much into the way I fish bowfin. You don't really do a lot in the way of casting.
Tom: No, it's dapping, right?
Drew: It's dapping. But, you know, like, that's a great line. But at the same time, you need to have, like, you know, a line you can do better presentation with when you're fishing carp. You know, an 8 weight on Lake Champlain for some of the carp that we have here is definitely the way to go. You know, we've just had a new state record caught this year, shot I should say. It was got with a bow...bow fisherman got it. It was 63 pounds.
Tom: Oh, my god.
Capt. Drew: Huge, huge carp, right? And, you know, I routinely see really large crap. I've had you out on really large carp on the stake and, you know, they're monsters. An 8 weight is definitely way to go but if you're using that bank shot line, you're gonna spook them because you're gonna get the splash. So you wanna have like, a good, you know, saltwater all arounder or something like that, that you can really get a good presentation with. And having a sink tip or a full sync line is gonna really help. So know, if you have an 8 weight and you've got those lines, you know, in spare spools, that's a good way to do it so you can just change out when you're on the water, that's great.
But, you know, I would also say if you're gonna really spend time on a lake like this where you have a wide diversity of species, you know, having a 3 weight for those little guys. Because I mean, yeah, you can certainly catch panfish on an 8 weight. It's not gonna be very fun, you know, sometimes you set the hook and the fish will be flying back into the boat with you, which to me isn't as much fun.
But having a 3 weight in there is gonna give you those options. Having a 5 or 6 weight I really like having a 6 weight in the boat. It's a great rod for carp. A 6 or 7, great for carp, great for bass. And again, you know, tweaking around with the lines and you can also use like sinking leaders is gonna help you get the flies down. We have an insane population of smallmouth on this lake. And you and I just saw that monster last week. That was a humongous smallmouth. And I still think that was pushing like 24 inches, really big fish.
But also having, you know, the flies that you need on hand and the other gear you need on hand is kind of a critical element, right? You know, when you and I were out for drum, you know, I had to change things up really, really quickly because of what we saw, you know. I know I got very excited about that and that was a really exciting thing for me.
So for your listeners, Tom released a drum and I looked over the side of the boat and let out an expletive pretty quickly because there was a very large muskellunge sitting right there in a place I've never seen one. And we couldn't get that fish to play but I had wire with me, and I had an intermediate line, and I had a big jerk changer that I put on.
And, you know, that's one thing about lakes like these multi-storied lakes is you know, sometimes you gotta expect the unexpected. Because I've been in those situations many times and sometimes you just don't know what you're gonna see. But if you have the equipment with you, the flies with you, and the wire, you know, in the situation we were in, we needed wire. If you're prepared for that, you can catch a lot of different fish in one day.
Tom: And I knew that when you saw that muskie, I was gonna be running the boat because there's no way you were not gonna try to catch that fish. And I was fine with it. I was fine with that because I don't think...I'm the worst hard luck muskie angler there is.
Capt. Drew: There's a couple of you guys at Orvis that are in that boat, and I hope to change that this year. And, you know, muskies are one thing and, you know, the muskie game is a whole conversation in its own right. But, you know, I think a lot of people are gonna have lakes with muskies. But you also have plenty of lakes with pike, plenty of lakes with pickerel. And having wire makes a difference. And being able to cut your leader down, you know, and put on a piece of wire and be prepared for a situation like that.
Even when I'm trout fishing in Vermont, I have a little bit of wire and some bigger flies that I can throw on a 5 weight and that's been to my benefit, you know, to be able to switch gears and get a big predator, you know, why not? You know, I think that's...adaptability is an underrated skill in fly fishing.
Tom: All right, so we got a little sidetracked on equipment, but we haven't gotten past April. So let's talk about...just to give people an example of, you know, you gotta kinda take what the lake gives you if you're gonna fly fish and you don't wanna fish deep. So what's next, what happens in May?
Capt. Drew: Well, in May, you know, May is an insane time of the year on this lake. And I put in a lot of hours on the lake. You know water gets over that 50-degree mark, the pike are post spawn so the pike are on. You got bass that are moving into the shallows and sometimes schooled up in places feeding in preparation for spawning, the largemouths are in those situations. You got smallmouths heading towards tributaries. We get a lot of smallmouth that they come in to spawn in tributaries so they start heading there.
You know, like, everything starts turning on, you're starting to get a little bit of weed growth, so you're getting fish attracted to that. And the carp are starting moving in the shallows. And they can be really tricky but, you know, if you got a well-presented fly, you can get some pretty large carp in May on this lake. You know, everything is starting to get going. The lakers are still around, they're relatively shallow. I was catching a lot of lake trout in some humps that were 25, 30 feet deep. You know, again, it's using the full sink line, but you know, knowing where to find those fish makes a difference.
And, you know, I will tell you one thing that really helps me break out in a lake like this is having charts and charts like the Navionics app really, really helps a lot. When you're dealing with a multi-story lake, it's gonna give you ideas of where to look for the fish that you wanna catch, right? You know like, if you're looking at a lake like Lake Champlain and you're like, okay, I wanna catch some pike, and you know that the water is gonna be 50 to 55 degrees, you gotta look for a bay that's gonna be, you know, no more than 4 to 6 feet deep with some weeds.
And if you have a chart in front of you, you know, oh, look at that. I'm looking at, you know, this is a perfect bay. And using a combination of that and Google Earth is gonna give you an idea, all right, this looks like a good spot to check out and see if the fish are there. And I do that stuff all the time, you know. I know Lake Champlain pretty well but I haven't been on all parts of Lake Champlain and I'm still discovering new things. I mean, a lake this size you're always going to. So, you know, that is gonna help you break it down.
You know, and from there, you know, watching the water temperatures, watching what's going on. If there's USGS gauging stations around that give you some water temperatures, that certainly helps. It's not always perfect on Lake Champlain because the one gauging station that we have is in Burlington and that's right on the Broad Lake. So, you know, it might be reading 50 degrees there but the backwater marshes could be, you know, 70 degrees. And even in May.
And being aware of that, and being aware of the temperature differences, you know, you get a couple of hot sunny days in a shallow, muddy, or sandy bay, that's gonna heat up real quick. And the fish that are in those spots are gonna turn on before the fish out in the Broad Lake right? And looking for those spots because the fish are looking for those spots, looking for warm water discharges like tributaries coming in.
So you get near the mouth of a smaller stream, it's probably coming in at 55 degrees, and the main lake might be 45 degrees. You've got a thermal change that those fish are gonna react to. The bait are gonna go in there, the fish are gonna follow the bait. So, you know, looking at that kind of stuff. And in May that really makes a difference. we were talking about, like, I've been trying to get you to come up for pike, you got all sorts of stuff going on with trout, and everything's [inaudible 01:21:48].
Tom: Trout, stripers.
Capt. Drew: Yeah. You know, I'm on tributaries of Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York chasing, you know, steelhead, and smallmouth, and other things. Suckers, I love fishing the sucker runs. That's a whole other topic. But, you know, there's so much going on in a year. After a long winter, these fish are ready to start feeding. And May I think is gonna be a really productive month for any multi-storied lake around the country.
And, you know, if you're on a reservoir that's a little bit higher up in elevation, it might be June for you. If you're down south, you know, it could be February or March that this is going on. So, you know, I know Lake Champlain and I know what's going on here. But, you know, depending on where you are in the country, you're gonna have to adapt to, you know, the temperature regime and what's going on climate-wise.
Tom: Now, what about once we get into summer, what are the best targets in summer? And what do you look for during the summer?
Capt. Drew: Summertime, I love summertime, you know, we've got such a diversity of warm water fish. I'm looking at bowfin, I'm looking at longnose gar, we always have largemouths and smallmouths available. The carp have always got my attention. They drive me absolutely batty but, you know, I love them. And we've got a lot of flats that have a lot of carp on them. Drum, we've got a lot of panfish. There's a lot of options in the summertime.
And I haven't touched all of the options, you know. Summertime, there's channel catfish that you can get into here. You know, in the springtime, you know, one of the things that I glossed over pretty quickly I love to sight-fish for bullhead on Lake Champlain, you know. That's where you have that 3 weight again, you're getting 15 to 16 in bullhead catfish on a fly, and it's just fun, you know?
I think it's good to like open your mind and not just say, all right, I just wanna go out and catch some bass. Because what happens when you go out and you're like, I'm hyper-focused on just getting some largemouth. And all of a sudden you're running into like all of these panfish or, you know, like, I've had clients that really wanna get into bowfin and, you know, bowfin starting in May, you can usually find them. But, you know, if you go in there and you're like okay, the bowfin are not playing well right now, but we got all these panfish, we've got these bullheads, I've been seeing some pike. Let's switch gears. And, you know, I'd rather have a fish in the boat, you know, than get skunked after a species, right?
Tom: Yeah, absolutely.
Capt. Drew: Not everybody has that outlook, but it helps you to have a much more pleasant experience on a lake like this. You know, because sometimes like...I know bowfin really, really well. I've caught a lot of bowfin, I've put a lot of people on a lot of bowfin, but there's definitely times when I'm like, "I don't know what's going on. I don't know where they are. I don't know why, you know, we're not finding here because they should be here."
But, you know, hey, look, we got big, largemouths right here. Let's get a few of those, or, you know, hi, there's plenty of carp around. Let's see if we can get some of those. Or here's a three-way, let's get a bunch of those 10-inch bluegill, you know? You know, I think that's a great way to look at a lake like this when you have those options available to you, you know.
Tom: I mean, we had a day we chased gar, we had a day we chased drum, and both times I was coming up looking for carp, right? I love fishing for big carp, and you've got big carp and we couldn't find them.
Capt. Drew: No, you know. And it's funny because, you know, I told you about this other bay where I spot them. And, you know, I've got this one bay where, you know, there's times I go in there and there's hundreds of carp milling around a wide variety of sizes. And I can go in the very next day and they're not there. I have no idea where they are.
And some of the bays on Lake Champlain are the size of a lake elsewhere, right? This is a big, big body of water and, you know, sometimes they could be in different parts of the bay. And the wind direction, temperature, what's available for food really changes what's going on for fish in these situations, right? And that's certainly the case with the carp. They drive me crazy and I keep going back for them.
Tom: And let's talk about wind for a minute because, first of all, first of all, you know, fishing a large lake like this, do you really need a boat? I mean, if you're fishing from shore and wading or whatever, you're gonna be limited to just certain species, they're gonna be in very shallow. So you need some kind of craft, a canoe, a kayak. Tell people what you run now on the lake.
Capt. Drew: I've got a Towee River Master Calusa with a poling platform and a trolling motor, and 20 horse Suzuki on the back. I can cover a lot of water on this lake very easily. You know, but for years, I ran a canoe and that worked out pretty well for me. But, you know, if you're in a non-powered vessel on a big lake, you really have to be paying very close attention to the weather. Any vessel on a lake like Lake Champlain, you really have to be paying attention to the wind and the weather at any time. I've seen Lake Champlain go from like a 3-inch chop, to 3 to 4-foot breakers when a storm rolled in. And I've been on the lake in a canoe in those situations.
You really have to be aware and you always gotta have your safety gear with you. I mean, I can't stress how important that is. Having your PFDs, making sure that they're well maintained, and being willing to wear them. When the water is cooler on Lake Champlain or I'm in rougher water, I have a CO2 life vest on and anybody in the boat that is with me is gonna have that on as well. Safety first. But then you gotta look at, you know, what your wind direction is, what are the wind predictions, and then, like, plan on what you're doing that day accordingly.
And another safety piece that I think is really important is to let somebody know where you're gonna be. Let them know, you know, where you're launching from and when you plan on being back, checking in with them when you leave and checking in when you get back. Because...
Tom: Good point.
Capt. Drew: know. I love fishing and, you know, I've certainly taken my chances over the years. I lost a friend earlier this year to cold water and, you know, no fish is worth it, right? Be safe and be smart when you're out on the water. And that applies to, you know, any situation you're in. Water is a dangerous thing and, you know, you don't wanna mess around with it. So really pay attention to what you're doing and kind of watch things.
And sometimes the weather forecasters are not correct. I've been on the lake and, you know, I was supposed to have like an 8-mile-an-hour west wind, and all of a sudden it's a north wind that's like 15 to 20. And sometimes you just have to say, okay, you know, lake you win, I'm coming off.
But really looking at shelter, if you've got a south wind and you're in a canoe, you probably don't wanna be fishing south facing bay, you know, if it's a heavy wind. Sometimes that can work to your benefit if you got a light wind, it can push bait into those areas. But you have to, you know, know your lake a little bit and use caution with that.
If you've got a really big lake and you're supposed to have only like a 1 to 2-foot wave. If you're in a bay that comes up really shallow and there's a deep drop-off nearby, those waves could be much more significant if you've got a lot of fetch. And fetch is the amount of the lake surface that is exposed to wind, right?
So there's a part of Lake Champlain called the Inland Sea, it's basically a lake within the lake. It's 30 miles long. And if you've got a south wind and you're on the north end of the Inland Sea, it comes up on a big flat, but there is's 150 feet deep, and then it comes up really rapidly to that big flat. If you're on that, and you've got a south wind, those waves can be more significant because there's know, it's like a big bathtub, and the whole...all that water in that part of the lake gets pushed up in there.
There's enough gauging stations on Lake Champlain. It's kind of interesting, when you have a heavy wind coming from the south, you will actually see the depth of Northern Lake Champlain deeper than southern Lake Champlain. It can be a foot or two difference, you know. So there's a lot of elements in play when you're dealing with wind. And talking to people at bait shops, and talking to people who boat the lake that you're on can help you figure that stuff out and be safer and also catch more fish, you know.
There's definitely a couple of spots in the lake that I've figured out that the pike will cruise out because, you know, the water is too warm until you have a situation like I was just describing where you got that water getting pushed up. And that water that, you know, it was 70 degrees yesterday, but now you've got a wind that is pushing in some cooler water. And those bigger pike are's 60 degrees now and those bigger pike are in there feeding. So, you know, figuring that stuff out, can really help you catch a lot more. I know that was a lot of information.
Tom: What use an app for wind, you let you use Windy, right?
Capt. Drew: I do use Windy. I really like Windy. Also, there's a solar lunar table on there that I have found to be pretty good prediction of when you're gonna have a good bite or you're not. And that helps. And, you know, knowing moon phases. There's definitely times in the year when moon phases don't mean anything, but there's definitely times of the year that moon phases can really make a difference, you know.
Especially summertime with big predators you got a full moon they're probably gonna be feeding at night. So if you're going out during the day looking for them, it's not gonna be as easy as you expect. I ran into that last year when I had blame chocolate [SP] up here. We were going after bowfin and, you know, those fish were...I had him and Oliver Nyan on fish all day long, but they weren't playing like they normally do. But we had a big full moon and those fish were feeding at night. So they weren't as active during the day. So, you know, there's, you know, yet another piece of the puzzle in a multi-storied lake like this. Springtime, I don't think that the moon phases mean much of anything.
Tom: Interesting.
Capt. Drew: Especially for pike. I mean know, you think about this. The pike has spent all winter, they're feeding, and they put on some weight and they're getting ready to spawn, and then they do their spawning. And then for about a month after know, spawning takes a lot out of a fish, as you know. And they're really trying to regain all that lost energy, all the fat reserves that they've used, and all the energy they've used into reproduction, they're trying to get that back. So for the next month, they're really gonna be feeding hard.
And, you know, I have never seen a difference in the springtime with pike as far as moon phases, you know, you get out there and if they're on they're on, you know.
Tom: So water temperature trumps moon phases that time of year.
Capt. Drew: At that time of year. And then, you know, you get a little bit the same thing in the fall of the year. You kind of get a little bit of a reverse of conditions, right? So you've had the summertime where you got like, especially the pike and the cooler water fish are gonna be moving out deep, they're gonna be looking for that thermocline, the bigger pike. Your salmon and your lake trout are gonna be down below thermocline.
If you don't know what the thermocline is, that's where it's a density difference that's in a deeper lake, you've got the warmer water above that and you've got cooler water below that, you know. Knowing a little bit about water and water density really helps you out with big lakes, big bodies of water. Water is densest at 39 degrees. So the coldest water is always gonna be at the deepest part of the lake.
But you'll get reverse stratification from there, right? The coldest water will be down deeper and it'll get warmer as it goes up. And excuse me, it is stratification, not reverse stratification. And then you have a layer where it rapidly changes from like, let's say the upper 30 feet of the water will go from like 74 degrees down to about 65 degrees, and then it rapidly within 10 feet will change from 65 degrees down to about 55 or 50 degrees. And from there, the water is cooler than that.
You know, a lot of the guys who are trolling out on Lake Champlain, especially ones people who are looking for salmon are looking for that thermocline because those fish are in that thermocline. They're looking for the bait that's in the thermocline right there. And the lakers are gonna be deeper when that sets up.
So in the springtime of the year, you actually have a point in the year where that water is just...after ice out, you know if Lake Champlain ices, it doesn't always ice out, where the whole lake from top to bottom is 39 degrees. And then you start getting stratification going and it starts warming up. Same thing happens in early winter where the water is starting to cool off and you get the same thing going on and you're getting mixing of the whole lake. You know, that's going back to my days in at SUNY Plattsburgh with environmental science, learning all this stuff about lake stratification that really has helped me out a great deal with, you know, picking my targets different times of the year. And spending a little time, you know, looking at what is lake stratification, how does it work, and how does it affect fish, will help you with a big lake like this.
Tom: Now, we haven't gotten into fall. So let's talk about a multi-story lake in the fall. What happens then?
Capt. Drew: Well, everything puts on the feedbags getting ready to winter. You know, the pikes are coming in shallow once you start hitting that 60-degree mark, pike are moving in shallow. You're gonna start seeing the bass school up and feeding heavy again preparing for winter both largemouth and smallmouth. And they're gonna be found in different places.
I got some great spots in the fall where you do have to use a sinking line to get down to the smallmouth. But, you know, any given cast, you could get a smallmouth or a walleye or even a lake trout. It's kind of fun never knowing what you're gonna get. But, you know, it's not for everybody and you gotta be careful, the water is cold.
And, you know, we're very fortunate we have a great population of lake trout out here. And those lakers come in shallow to spawn. We got a couple of places where you're talking tens of thousands of lake trout come in to do their thing. And they are more than willing to grab a fly. And you can use a floating line with a heavy fly to get to those fish. I sometimes like using an intermediate line or a sink tip to help get the fly down a little bit. And, you know, you can get into some really great lake trout fishing in November on this lake.
Salmon are starting to move into the tributaries. They can be found near the mouths of rivers and in the rivers. You know, it's a great time of year to be on the lake as well. There's a lot less fishing pressure in the fall than there is in the springtime. You have a lot of people who like to hunt and, you know, fall is definitely the time to get out there and hunt. I'm not a hunter and I get to take advantage of the lack of competition. And I love that being out on a lake that's, you know, relatively empty.
And same thing seems to happen on Lake Champlain after Labor Day. Labor Day or, you know, this lake is a very popular boating lake. We get a lot of people, you know. There's thousands of boats on Lake Champlain in the summertime on a nice day. You know, it's loaded with people fishing and pleasure boating. But after Labor Day, a lot of time you have the lake yourself.
So that's one of the things I love about fall. You've got great fishing, and you have a lot less pressure, and you have a lot less other people on the lake too. So that's kind of fun, you know. Fall provides a lot options. Panfish are still on. You know, one of the things I love about the laker fishing is we get big schools of huge yellow perch that come in to feed on those lake trout eggs. And you, same place you could find these big lake trout, you can catch 12, 13, 14-inch yellow perch. And it's just kind of fun.
Tom: And there isn't probably a better eating fish in freshwater except maybe a small brook trout than yellow perch. And they're abundant and plentiful. And keeping a dinner of yellow perch is not something that should induce any guilt on people.
Capt. Drew: I agree. But I will take your word on their flavor, you know...
Tom: That's right. You're allergic to fish.
Capt. Drew: I'm definitely allergic to fish and shellfish. Everybody tells me perch are great and I'll take your word for it. The great irony of my life. Oh, man. You know, looking at the diversity and looking at all the opportunities that you have on a lake that has a lot of different species, it's so much fun. It gives know, if you like challenges, you've got them. If you like easy fishing, you've got that as well. And, you know, it gives you a lot of opportunities for exploration, especially on a bigger lake.
And I like going on days and just being like, I don't know what I'm gonna find. I'm going to a new place, you know, I'm going to a new spot in the lake, I'm gonna try this out. And I've been doing that a lot. I mean, you know, just figuring a lot of things out. I know a lot of spots on Lake Champlain and I've done very well. But every time I go out, I learn something new and I try different places. And that's fun, that's fun.
Tom: Yeah, absolutely.
Capt. Drew: I don't mind getting skunked. Another thing that I think is important is, you know, going out, I just wanna see what's going on, right? You know, you go into a bay you're like, I don't know, you know, I think I'm gonna find pike, I might find bowfin or bass. I don't know exactly what I'm gonna find. And going in there not necessarily fishing but, like, just poking around and seeing what you can see and not being afraid of spooking fish. Because when you spook some fish, you know those fish are there, right? That's all data in your book, in your little black fish book.
Like, oh, you know, like in May 15th, in this bay, I saw a bunch of carp in that weed bed. Like, okay, maybe you didn't get him that day but now you know that that bay is gonna have carp in it and you can go in there prepared right? You could go back the next day or, you know, if you're not able to get back there until the next bay, you know, that mid-May in that bay, you've seen carp and you can be prepared for that.
Tom: Yeah. Keeping a log which is something I don't do and I should but...
Capt. Drew: Same here.
Tom: You don't? Oh, my God. It's all in your head.
Capt. Drew: It is all in my head and I have a really good memory when it comes to fish. There's other stuff I'm terrible with. A lot of other stuff I'm terrible with but when it comes to fish, it's a fisher graphic memory I guess.
Tom: So Drew, before I let you go, people always wanna know what flies to use. Can you give us an assortment of flies? And I know you have a lot of your own patterns. But can you give people an assortment of flies they can buy, you know, commercially or tie, or they can look up online for fishing a multi-story lake are must-have flies?
Capt. Drew: There's a bunch of them. And, you know, every lake is gonna be a little different. So you're gonna have to, you know, go in for a little local knowledge too. So, you know, always support your local fly shop, you know, go in there and buy supplies and find out what's going on. But a few things like are must-haves you gotta have wooly buggers in a variety of sizes, you know, everything from like size 2 to size 12 or 14 and it's not...
Tom: And different weights if you're gonna stick to a floating line too.
Capt. Drew: Right. The weight gain is huge. And, you know, you and I have been playing the weight game when we've been out recently. And, you know, having a floating line and not being afraid of putting on additional weight will help you get to the fish when you find them. But also having different weights of flies, having unweighted buggers, having buggers with beadchain eyes, or tungsten beads, or brass beads. Having a wide variety so you can cover right from the top down to, you know, 5 or 6 feet and being able to put on some additional weight and getting down even deeper.
Wooly buggers, you gotta have some Clouser minnows in a variety of sizes. In chartreuse and white, gray and white, olive and white. I love pink and white. Pink and white Clousers are one of my absolute favorites. Yeah, I love pink. I've done very, very well with pink and white for almost everything from salmon to smallmouth. You know, I think for me in the early spring, it's a toss-up between pink and white and chartreuse and white for smallies.
Yeah, I think pink is an underutilized color in a lot of situations. When you're starting to get into larger predators, Clouser half and halves and deceivers are must-haves. I also use a lot of bunny flies for pike. They're tough as nails. So that's certainly worth having around. They're great springtime pike flies, having those in classic pike colors, everything from all white, red and white, yellow, black, chartreuse. Ain't no use being chartreuse, those are great to have.
I am a real big proponent of Game Changers. They are such a deadly fly. And, you know, everything from the little micro changes which I've caught surprisingly large fish on micro changers to, you know, I do 6 to 8-inch tungsten eyed 2 hook game changers for lakers, you know. And those are also great pike flies.
And having those fishing Game Changers with an intermediate line and unweighted game changer with an intermediate line is a deadly, deadly technique on any lake that's got predators on it. It'll get all sorts of bass, it'll get all sorts of pike, right time of the year you'll get lakers with that. I was crushing it with that setup earlier this year.
Let me see. Having, you know, poppers who doesn't like topwater? I have to admit I don't fish topwater as much as I should because like, I'm an obsessed sight angler myself. You know, and I love being up close and personal with fish and getting a fly right in front of their face and pulling them that way. So I don't fish top water as much as I should.
But poppers that are, you know, anywhere from like [inaudible 01:51:01] which for, you know, big, largemouth and pike love poppers and sliders that size. And, you know, dropping it all the way down to like size 12 for panfish, like bluegills and pumpkinseed, rock bass, that's worth having. You know, we've got a lot of carp here. There's a lot of great carp flies out there. I'm a big fan of the carp biter. I know you love the fuzzy niblet. You got one of the smallest carp I've ever seen on Lake Champlain with a fuzzy niblet.
And, you know, having a variety of nymphs and having a variety of carp flies, you know, from those heavy sinkers like the fuzzy niblet and the carp biter that can get right down to the bottom super fast. Having some that are like a mid-column fly that are not as heavily weighted and they're not gonna plunk as much. And also having some flies like Clouser swimming nymphs. We need hex patterns on this lake. You saw the amount of shocks that we had from our hex hatch the other day. We have a pretty impressive hex hatch here.
But also having some smaller nymphs that you can get panfish with. And the Clouser swimming nymphs is a must-have I think for all species. I catch so many smallmouth and largemouth on Clouser swimming nymphs it's not even funny. It was driving me crazy the last time I was out carp fishing, I would get a fly in front of a carp, and out of nowhere like, a 15 or 18-inch smallmouth would come up and smash that fly right in front of the carp's face. And, you know, like you can't complain about, you know, a 15 to 18 inch smallmouth, but, you know, when they're spooking your carp it says you're a little bonkers, you know.
Tom: Or 6-inch smallmouth.
Capt. Drew: Yeah. There are so many smallmouths in this lake. Such an amazing. I love having the diversity that we have on this lake, you know. I'm really drawn to this lake because of that diversity. And, you know, that's something I would encourage other people to think about. If you got a lake like this, the Great Lakes, I mean, those big reservoirs.
You know, I read about some of the big reservoirs that are out west and I'm like, wow, you know, you've got all these trout in there, you've got some bass in there, there's lake whitefish, you've got burbot, and guys are gigging burbot in the middle of summer in the daytime? Like, I would love to be able to do that on Lake Champlain here. You know, I mean, we got a lot of burbot, but, you know, I can't target them during the summertime and I've never caught one on a fly. I'd like to, but, you know, I haven't pulled that off yet.
So, you know, it's great. I mean, you think about some of the reservoirs down south where you've got drum, you've got carp, you've got all the bass, you've got a huge compliment of panfish. Some of those reservoirs have big muskies in them. You know, down in Tennessee, Kentucky you got all these opportunities and going out and discovering what you have in your own backyard and thinking beyond trout, you know.
And I think that's something that...I've seen a lot more of that these days and I'm certainly seeing that with my guide service, that people are like, you know, I love catching trout, but, you know, it's getting warm, and I don't wanna bother the trout and, you know, like, what else can I do? And you have all these great summertime options and people are really discovering it and discovering native fish, you know.
I love trout too. I love brown trout. I really enjoy fishing steelhead. Here on, you know, the East Coast browns and steelhead and rainbows are not native fish, you know. And we've got all these amazing native fish, you know, like bowfin, and gar, and drum, they're here in the lake. And they deserve as much respect as, you know, the trout do. They've been here for a really long time. And sorry about that, I got a text.
And, you know, get out there and explore what you have for native fish. And down south, you've got a lot of great options for panfish that we don't have up here, you know, and different species of bass which, you know, every part of the country has all sorts of different species of fish. There's a diversity of gar that around the country that you can target. And at some point, I gotta get to Texas and get into an alligator gar. It's something that I've thought about since I was a child. And, you know, having a multi-storied lake and having a lot of those opportunities is available to almost everybody in this country. There's a lot of opportunities. And you can fish big lakes with a fly rod very successfully if you approach it right.
Tom: Yeah. You've proven it.
Capt. Drew: Thank you. And I hope to keep proving it for years to come.
Tom: Me too.
Capt. Drew: Yeah. Well, we'll get you out again and see what else we can get you that you haven't caught with a fly yet.
Tom: Cool. Yeah, maybe someday I'll catch a muskie.
Capt. Drew: Well, you know, you and Danny have a day with me this fall.
Tom: No, maybe.
Capt. Drew: Maybe. We'll see what we can do.
Tom: All right. Well, we have been talking to Captain Drew Price of Lake Champlain. Drew, you wanna tell people where they can get ahold of you if they're interested in fishing with you?
Capt. Drew: Yeah. My website is And you can follow me on Instagram at Masterclass Angling. And if you wanna shoot me an email, it's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Tom: Great. Well, thank you, Drew, this has been...
Capt. Drew: You're welcome.
Tom: ...fascinating. And this kind of fishing is just at its infancy with a fly rod. And, you know, it's such a great, particularly a great summertime thing when trout streams get too low or too warm. There's just so much to do, and so much fun to have, you know, again, trying to fill your dance card, trying to catch a new species. And it's always fun to catch something that you'd never caught before.
Capt. Drew: Oh, no question. No question. And thank you for having me. It's a pleasure being on and it's always a blast fishing with you. So we'll make that happen sometime soon.
Tom: Oh, yeah, I'll be calling you. All right, Drew.
Capt. Drew: I know you will. I'll get that call what's going on with the carp?
Tom: And you'll talk me into something else like drum, or tench, or bowfin which is fine.
Drew: Yeah, which is fine. And you will get up for carp and there's the tench, and there's the bowfin. They're all in the same place.
Tom: Yeah. All right. Okay, Drew thank you so much, and will be talking...
Capt. Drew: You're welcome.
Tom: you soon.
Capt. Drew: Fantastic. Thank you so much.
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