Jan 11

A quiver of Orvis – Hydros and Access Rods Reviewed

While I was down in Mexico casting for… well… whatever would eat a 1/0 Surf Candy/Clouser, I had two loaner rods with me… an 8 wt. Hydros and an 8 wt. Access.  Having cast the Helios down in Belize a few weeks back, I’ve now cast three different Orvis sticks in an 8.

I must say… I’m impressed.

If I were going to buy one of these rods, I’d probably go with the Hydros.  The Hydros gets you a rod as good as the Helios with a substantial discount on the price.  I cast the Hydros most of the time I was down in Mexico.  It was light, crisp and powerful.  I was throwing lead eyes and sinking lines and the thing just played very well.

The Access is on the lower end of the Orvis spectrum, but it is still a good stick.  When you put them side-by-side you notice that the blank is thicker and when you pick it up, you notice the extra weight, even if it does come down to a couple ounces.  The Access is a little slower, so I had to change my casting stroke some, but the rod can still pound the casts out there.  It may not be fair to look at the Access after having cast the Hydros for a few days since the Hydros is just a really slick piece of casting rocketry.

A Note on Rod Selection for Vallarta

Vallarta is a hard place to judge for rod selection.  I would have been fine on most of the fish I caught with a 6 weight.  Still, there are a few fish I hooked that would have put a serious beat-down on a 6.  You just never know what is going to be on the other end.  Could be a 5 ounce fish.  Could be a 25 pound fish.

Dec 10

Vallarta – last day and a new species

Had a good three hours out there today before we take off tomorrow.  As is normal, I was the only one fishing the beach.  This is not a fly fishing hot-spot.  The beach is left to the tourists.  I hardly saw a local out there this year, although that may be partly due to the dramatic changes at the river-mouth this year.

Today I picked up some Jack Crevalles, as is normal, and several Pompano.  Usually I get a single pompano if I get any, but today I had 4 or 5.  I also picked up a new fish… likely a young Green Jack.

Green Jack... my first.

It was a good trip, despite a nice cold that sat in the noses of my wife and I for most of the trip.  We had a lot of pool time with the little girl (she wants to stay, forever… just wants me to bring the dog down). We actually got off the resort a tiny bit to get my daughter to see her first wild crocs… which was kind of cool.

Yes... they have crocs in Vallarta... Nuevo Vallarta.

We’ll be back… and next time… I really, really want to get out on the bay… probably with a 10 weight (11?).  I’d like to land a Mahi Mahi… 2011 could be the year.

Good times.

Dec 10

Sometimes it takes me a while

Three days of fishing the new little bay here in Nuevo Vallarta and all I had caught were a bunch of tiny, tiny Jacks.  The water just seemed too shallow.  The big boys weren’t going to come in this far.  I knew it… deep down.  I was wasting my time casting to these little guys in the hopes that a big one might be near.

The doorman said we should push to the weekend to try and head out and then he called this morning, wanting to go out.  Well… my wife has a cold (so do I) and I wasn’t anywhere near ready, so I passed up on that chance.  I paced a bit and then went and did pool time with my daughter.  When my wife offered an opportunity to head back to the little bay this afternoon, I took it.

“I’m going to do something different this time though…” I thought as I headed out there.

For starters, I left the camera with my wife.  I get a little superstitious sometimes.  I wanted things to line up for me, so I wasn’t taking any chances.

I started off as close to the river mouth as I could get… small fish.  I worked my way around the inside of the little bay… small fish.  Not enough current… too shallow.

Then I took a good look at the outside of the little bay.  I could see color change.  That is where I needed to fish.

First cast, first nice little Jack of the trip… 2 pounds or so.  Then came another and another and another.  Biggest was probably about 5 pounds, which ended up on the dinner plate, along with a nice 3 pounder.


Success.  I just needed to listen to myself a little bit.  I knew I needed deeper water.  I knew I needed more current.

I was happy to be able to switch over to my #2’s and #1/0’s from my #4 clousers.  It was a good day.

Dec 10

Nature is a trip – Vallarta

I’m down in Vallarta for a long anticipated family trip.  We love playing in the pools, lounging about and having some good quality time together.  I, as you might expect, bring a fly rod or two along (in this case, two loaners from Orvis, the Hydros and their Access in an 8).  In years past I’ve come to have some pretty good fishing at the river mouth that separates Puerto Vallarta from Nuevo Vallarta.  I’ve caught dinner there a couple of times and really had started to get it dialed.

This year… not so much.

Some storms came though during the summer and my guess is a few million cubic yards of sand got moved around.  What I used to know is now a total mystery again.  There is a little bay, where once there was open water.  The river now has two mouths and I can’t even get to the place where I had had such good luck for the past couple of years.

Amazing how much nature can alter things in the span of a few months.

Now, I can’t find the big fish. The little fish?  Oh yeah… I have those DIALED.  I’ve caught dozens of little Jacks… little… ounces, not pounds.

After my 25 pound Jack in Belize... this is a little underwhelming.

I repeated an old mistake and asked the concierge if they had any information on fly fishing.  No… I could take a party boat, but no… they don’t know anyone who has a panga who could take me out in the bay to cast for some Jacks. However, I also asked one of the doormen, Jorge.  He knows.  He knows a bunch of folks and he and I, in theory, are going to go fishing with a friend of his on Thursday.  I will need to pay for gas, but that’s it.  We’ll see how that goes.  I’m looking forward to it.

Dec 10

I like James Taylor

First of all, my wife hates just about anything musically that I like.  Somehow we can both agree on James Taylor.  Another reason I like James Taylor is the song he sings below… Oh Mexico.


We are headed back to Mexico this coming weekend for a week in the mostly sun.  While there there will be a lot of playing in the pools with my daughter, some good meals cooked by my mother-in-law and, if things hold true to past trips, I should get a couple hours every day to go cast in the surf and river mouth for some Jacks, ladyfish and whatever else passes by.

For the trip I got a couple of loaner rods from Orvis. After having cast the Helios a bit in Belize, I got to wondering how the feels.  The Hydros is step down from the Helios, but it is the same blank, just with less premium and slightly heavier components.  Also making the trip South is one of Orvis’s new Access Rods, which  is on the lower price range for Orvis saltwater-ready sticks.

I very much look forward to some time in the pool with my little girl, and some time casting clousers to anything that will eat.

Mar 10

More on Vallarta Turtles

Yeah, I know, it isn’t about bonefish.  Part of what I really enjoy about fishing is that it draws you deeper into the environment you are fishing.  You become more aware of what is there  and how it all interacts.  You also learn where the problems are.  The more you are out there, the more you see, both good and bad.


After being down in Vallarta, seeing a turtle come ashore and lay eggs, seeing the spoiled nests and the baby turtle tracks, I contacted a turtle conservation program, Sociedad Ecologica de Occidente.

This is what the biologist, Oscar, had to say:

This is the Olive Ridley turtle, the most common species of marine turtles in the entire world, and the less threatened. However, they´ve to face a lot of dangers, of course. Fortunately the olive ridley population is very stable and increasing every year…

Well… that’s good news indeed.  More on Olive Ridley Turtles.

That's hope for the future... baby turtle tracks.

Mar 10

Happy Ending in Vallarta

No, not from a massage parlor… the fishing kind.  Today when the monkey went to sleep I went out for one last round of fishing.  The tide was a little better and the water just looked more… fishy.  I managed my first fish while changing up my retrieve from super fast to super slow… evidently, slow and steady wins more than just the race.  First fish of the day, a Leatherjack, about 12″ or so.  Next, I saw a small log floating 50 feet off shore… fish were attacking it, hitting it over and over again.  I got a cast out, slow retrieve and the smallest fish  of the bunch hammered it… Jack Crevalle, about half a pound, little guy.

So, I stood there, casting, retrieving, casting, retrieving, ya know… “fishing.”  All of a sudden, I saw a tail cut through the murky water in front of me, swimming fast, about 5 feet from where I stood… the forked tail was clearly visible and it was… um… massive… I’d guess 20 pounds… maybe more.  Safe to say my interest was peaked.

Bait were popping, boils were sporadic, butt pretty frequent, but still… cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve.  I was starting to think about heading back, hoping my daughter had slept during her nap and thinking it was a bit of a bummer than my jig clousers had not produced.

Tug, set, bigger tug, line going out, clear the line and it was clear this wasn’t a little guy.  Now, the last nice Jack Crevalle I caught here was on a 7 wt. with a cheap Cabela’s large arbor reel… the reel did not do well (grinding is not a good sound when reeling).  This time I was fishing my TFO Clouser 8 wt., the rod I brought to the Bahamas, and my TFO Large Arbor 357 reel.  This fish didn’t stand a chance.  So nice to have confidence in your gear.

The Jack went about 4 pounds. I kept it, brought it to one of the resort restaurants and it fed 3 adults.  Toro are not known as great eating fish, but this was de-lish.


I release almost all my fish... but a couple become dinner.

Of course, I have no pictures of any of the fish-just-caught, since my waterproof camera took a header yesterday and is not recoverable.

The trip was a good family trip with lots of pool time for the 3 year old.  The fishing mostly s-ucked, but ya know… I didn’t get to fish the best tides, I got to fish the tides when my daughter was sleeping.  The surf was also much rougher this trip than I had seen it before.  As always, I was amazed at how much the river mouth had changed in just a few months.

Now… back to my bonefish fixation.

PS – The “Biggest Doucebag” award goes to the guy I saw this morning walking around in a “The Working Class Can Kiss My Ass” T-Shirt.  If you own one of these you should feel bad about yourself. If you WEAR one of these, you should jump off a really high building.

Mar 10

Thanks Fishing Gods

Appreciate you breaking me off a little here in Vallarta.  Maybe, just maybe, next time, you could let me catch more than one?

The skunk is broken for the trip.

I should add that this fish was caught with a Chernobyl Clouser… glow in the dark materials.  So, a skunk breaker on two fronts.

Mar 10

Dear Fishing Gods

Dear Fishing Gods,

I appreciate your efforts to teach me humility.  The two goose-eggs produced the last two days are true examples of your power and my powerlessness.  That trip to the Bahamas was a real show of force as well and we don’t even need to get into the stolen St. Croix, my brush with the Message Board Which Must Not Be Named or my inability to make it to the East Walker for the past six months.

You have clearly been working overtime to show me who’s boss and I admit that it is you, not me and that I have a load to learn… including patience and humility.

Thinking back, I think you might have been behind that big fish I lost on the Metolius last summer.  Boy, that was a good lesson learned there.  You truly are a powerful and spiteful deity.  You must have had a good chuckle about that one… knot in the leader, green drake, 20″+ fish… and spectators… if there is more than one of you, you must have had a good communal giggle on my account there.

Back to present times, I would really appreciate it if you’d just knock it the hell off and let me catch some fish again while I’m down here in Vallarta for a few more days.  I would sacrafice a goat or chicken or something, but I simply don’t have any.  However, when I get back home I’ll run a nail over my Fallout 3 game for my PS3, which should satisfy your wanton desire to inflict pain on the souls of faithful anglers.

Tight Lines,


Mar 10

Of Gill Nets and Turtle Eggs

I’m in Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta to be specific.  Here for a few days with my daughter and my mother-in-law and her husband.

I’ve had some really enjoyable fishing the past few years from the beach.  This year, I have some glow-in-the-dark flies to try out, so I went out the first night.  No dice.  The flies held their glow for about three casts before needing to be recharged with the headlamp.

I was picking up exactly 0 fish, 0 hits, 0 anything.  As I was walking down the shore I noticed something bobbing just off the beach… a gill net, strung across the whole river mouth.  Well… that pretty much sorted that out.  Now I don’t know if the Chernobyl Flies would have worked or not. Bummer.

As I was walking back I noticed something in the foam line and a few steps further and I saw it was a sea turtle.  The turtle was struggling to get over a little sand berm that had been formed.  I watched as it finally struggled over the berm, made its way 20 or so feet up the beach and began digging a whole.

It occurred to me that this stretch of beach is just about the only bit of sand this turtle could have laid her eggs.  This is the most natural bit of beach for probably 15 miles in either direction with resort upon resort upon resort.  I watched her for a while as she started dropping her eggs and I left her in peace to finish her work.

Vallarta Sea Turtle

While I was bummed about the gill net and lack of fish, I felt pretty fortunate to see the sea turtle.

Today I went down to the river mouth to try my luck again.  Got skunked, which doesn’t happen often here.  On the walk back I looked for the spot the turtle had laid her eggs.

I found it… there was a hole and a couple dozen eaten turtle eggs.  Something had gotten to them and all her effort was wasted.

Well… that sucks.  C’est la vie.