Happy Memorial Day - Local Rainbow Trout Still bitin'

Quick report from a lengthy, enjoyable trip to a local wild trout stream in the San Gabriel Mountains / Los Angeles National Forest. 2 fish, 4+ hours of slow fishing, but darn beautiful surroundings and my first fish on this particular creek. Water absolutely cranking through this tiny watershed. Just needs more life!

A favorite SoCal Trout Stream - Revisited

I'm back! Changing responsibilities have altered my fishing adventures but I'm still out on the water.

Went back to a favorite local wild trout stream in the local San Gabriels. Fly fishing and conventional fishing for a few hours after a rugged hike.

As I have explored the world of fly fishing, I am also getting to re-learn an old hobby - entomology. Identifying insects that serve as valuable forage for local wild trout is part of the fun.

These small beetles were plentiful along the stream. Feeling smart, I tied on a similar pattern as the "dry" on a "dry/dropper" rig, only to see the fast-moving stream whip it as an unfishable pace. Oh well, it was a good thought.

Managed to land this beautiful wild rainbow trout:

Also encountered this large rattlesnake along the streambed. Grateful that I had snake gaiters on, but it was too close for comfort!

California's received much-needed rain. Now the fishing cycle should start again. 

Sexiest Swimbait Ever - Sora Design Custom Arapaima Lure

Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful custom swimbaits I've ever seen -- and I bought it!
Fishing with it was nerve-wracking. Really deserves to be mounted on the wall.

Check out the video review of this lure - Sora Design, No. 1867, Arapaima swimbait

Shore Fishing Big Island Hawaii / Surf Fishing Big Island

This was my second trip to the Island of Hawaii, aka the Big Island. It's my favorite island out of the bunch - I love the pristine beaches, the relaxed pace (no thanks, Waikiki), the scrumptious food, and the fishing.

On my first trip, I caught loads of reel dwellers - many of the same fish you see snorkling, in addition to a nice cornetfish. Swam with dozens of papio, but never hooked one. Really wanted to tie into these freight trains on this trip. Packed several topwaters, grubs, jerkbaits, and kastermasters.
We were greeted with a High Surf Advisory on the first day - and this persisted through the entire trip, frustratingly. The stretch of ocean in front of our condo looked absolutely superb for fishing, but the 8ft+ waves made fishing nearly impossible. Further north, in a variety of protected bays, I was able to fish with a bit more control. A small cut in the lava rocks ended up resulting in the majority of my catches -- all on grubs fished whipping style or just on a jighead, except for a few on shrimp and on a jerkbait.

Stocky Hawkfish

Sergeant Major fish

Final tally for the trip ended up being 15+ stocky hawkfish, 1 tiny peacock grouper, 2 colorful wrasse, and one aggressive sergeant major fish. The hawkfish appear almost comical - large bellies, rotund, with plenty of teeth to prevent lipping. I released all the fish to be caught another day.

'Cuda country

I also tied into a couple of needlefish, didn't stick, and had a few swirls at my poppers but no hookups. Spotted an enormous peacock grouper  while snorkeling too, as well as a nice 2ft barracuda patrolling the depths.

My poppers barely even showed up in this chop

Unfortunately, the main predators - papio- that I was interested in, continue to elude me. I've tied into what was likely one on the Island of Kauai - drag screaming run and all, but never landed one. My game plan for fishing next time on Hawaii will be (1) larger reels with heavier line to get beyond the breakers (2) larger poppers and jerkbaits to attract predators attentions, even in choppy surf and (3) plenty of backup lures --even a simple popper cost $10 at Kona's WalMart, something I would pay a couple of bucks for here at Bass Pro Shops. Shrimp as bait didn't work nearly as good as it does here in SoCal.

For anyone interested in shore fishing and/or surf fishing on Big Island, you have two options. Either pack a travel rod and tackle, or stop by WalMart in Kona - Kailua and grab everything you need.

Picked up the Matzuo popper locally. Looks very cool

If you just want to cast plastic grubs and bait, WalMart has you covered. I'd recommend bringing your own lures though, and bring plenty, as the coral and rocks will claim many of them. Getting snagged is basically going to happen, so avoid popular snorkeling spots - you don't want to leave hooks around where people are swimming. Respect the environment and the locals, don't crowd other anglers. Anywhere you can find some depth, you'll find fish, catching is another thing.

Someone got nice sunrise footage with a hexacopter - not mine

There are plenty of fish hanging around the coral reefs, but many of these are not interested in your lures. I found the following websites to have the best tips for shore fishing Big Island:

Be sure to check the state regulations too, some of the above locations may not be legal to fish from updated regs.

Another hawkfish

All in all, high surf advisory notwithstanding, fishing while surrounded by jaw-dropping beauty and snorkeling amidst coral forests was amazing. I'll definitely be back. Mahalo.


Best Ultralite Budget Trout Fishing Setup

I'm often asked about my setup for micro trout fishing in tiny streams in California. Since most of these trips require a long hike in and stealth to ensure dozens of hikers don't know I'm on my way to fish (thus protecting hidden streams), I utilize collapsible rods exclusively. These usually cost an arm and a leg, but they don't have to! Check out this list of the best ultralite trout fishing budget gear (conventional)

1. Shimano Sienna 500https://amzn.to/2CeuKIi
This is my primary reel for micro trout fishing. It has an amazing drag, allowing me to handle fish much larger than expected on very light line. The retrieve speed is a little off for fast streams, but overall works well.

2. Goture Spinning Fishing Reel Metal Spool Coil 6BB https://bit.ly/2QNfshW
This is one of my travel spinning reel for lightweight trout fishing. It's very compact, thanks to the folding reel handle, and drag works well. Get the 500 series if you can find it, otherwise the 1000 series should work. It's super affordable, doesn't hurt to have a few of these.

1. Carbon M Power Lure 3.5g Portable Telescopic Fishing Rodhttps://bit.ly/2IWqJJV
This is one of the better telescopic travel fishing rods on Aliexpress. Cork handle, sensitive rod, very portable. Just be careful with the tip, either have a few rod guide tips to repair it with, or transport it in a carrier, because they won't stand up to alot of luggage abuse. I use the 1.6m version or the 1.8m version. 

2. Eagle Claw Telescopic Travel Fishing Rodhttps://amzn.to/2CeuoS8
I have the prior model of telescopic fishing rod from Eagle Claw, featuring a different color (silver/black). It's basically impossible to find at this time, and this yellow model, which has good reviews but I have not used, it the replacement. My older version has stood up to an enormous amount of abuse and it's in many of my videos.

1. Berkely Trout Wormshttps://amzn.to/2CeJJBZ
Throw these on a barbless hook with a small split shot, and you'll catch 90% of the fish you run into. They'll only hit it a couple of times before getting smart, so don't miss that first bite. Ensure your hooks are barbless - you don't want to be killing these fish inadvertently when catch and release fishing.

1. P-Line Fluro: https://amzn.to/2CbffRz
2-4lb Monofilament or fluoro is my choice. P-line has worked well for me.

Where is Our VR Fly Fishing Sim Game?

Far Cry 5 Fly Fishing

It's a rare rainy weekend here in Southern California and I wanted to share my thoughts on fly fishing video games, specifically in virtual reality. Hate video games and/or VR? Skip this post. Just want a fishing game to play now? Jump to the end. Otherwise, read on!

Why aren't there any fly fishing VR games?

I love fly fishing, and I love a good video game. Even better than a traditional video game is a virtual reality (VR) game, running on the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, etc. Strap on a headset, and you are immediately transported into an immersive, 3d world that you can walk in, interact with, and explore any created virtual environment. Unfortunately, there aren't any fly fishing games in VR yet. For now, I've dreamed up what a fly fishing VR game would be like -  allow me to expand on this.

Far Cry 5: Fly Fishing in a FPS

Right now, the most visually appealing fly fishing video game is, ironically, found in a first person shooter- Far Cry 5. Granted, it's a niche market, but judging from the success of games like Fishing Planet and Ultimate Fishing Simulator, a well-done VR fly fishing game would have a solid following. 

There aren't any actual fly fishing games in VR at this time. There are several fun conventional fishing games, including Catch and Release, Bait, and Pro fishing Challenge. On the near horizon is the indie Project VR Fishing from MirageSoft. It looks very promising but doesn't have fly fishing, sadly. 

Catch and Release VR: Seriously, a Spoon + a Bobber?
Great graphics though

Let's talk game mechanics and design in this theoretical fly fishing VR game. Real casting physics would be essential. Casts must utilize the motion controllers of the Vive or Oculus Rift to simulate "real" fly fishing. Locomotion could be handled via room scale + teleport. Both wading and shore fishing should be available, on a variety of bodies of water. Graphics could either be photogrammetry models of real world environments, or stylized, Firewatch-esque scenes, or even the gorgeous rendered landscapes of The Hunter: Call of the Wild. 

Firewatch's beautiful, artistic wilderness

Avoiding snags in brush and other obstacles on your back cast could be simulated similar to Fishing Planet. Skipping the arcade "underwater" view and instead going for thrilling strikes and battles would be awesome. Throw in guided drift boat trips and multiplayer co-op fishing trips and you have a winner. 

The Hunter: Call of the Wild landscapes. Definitely the gold standard for rendered outdoor environments

Ideally, this VR fly fishing game would feature both an open fishing mode and an adventure/exploration mode. Add in a few storyline elements (Similar to Firewatch or Legend of the River King), and survival features (i.e. The Long Dark), and I would absolutely throw money at it. Lost on a fishing trip in a remote canyon, running into unsavory characters, exploring treacherous terrain (Climby, The Climb) - all concepts that could be included. 

The Climb: VR Vertigo anyone?

To summarize there needs to realistic fly fishing mechanics, a sense of exploration and adventure (what's around the bend?), and that "just one more cast" feeling.  Capture that addicting feeling of wonderment and beauty that comes with going to a new mountain stream, and you've got a winner. 

At this point, it's probably not if but when a VR fly fishing game will be released. I would love to collaborate with an interested game developer on such an endeavor - would be epic!

Virtual reality offers so much immersive gaming potential. It'll never replace the real thing (nor would I want it to) but why not have a great fly fishing sim for those days when you can't get outside (typing this during a rainy weekend)? 

Pro Fishing Challenge VR

Came across this post and need a fishing game to keep you occupied until a real fly fishing VR game is released? Try these top fishing games:

Fly Fishing Simulatorhttp://www.flyfishingsimulator.com/ (one of the most realistic, albeit dated, fly fishing games. Android version or PC, both are great)

Catch and Release VRhttps://store.steampowered.com/app/679750/Catch__Release/ (Nice, relaxing atmosphere)

Fishing Planethttps://fishingplanet.com/ (PC, basically a fishing MMO, grind is annoying but actual fishing mechanics are fun)
Fishing VR GIJIESTA: https://vrzone-pic.com/shinjuku/en/activity/gijiesta.html , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFwIb6Hyytg (VR Arcade, Asia, not much info but looks fun - if anyone knows more about this, please let me know)
Pro Fishing Challenge VRhttps://www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/1011429558899116/ (Oculus Rift, nice graphics, mixed reviews of fishing experience)
Fishing Star VRhttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.gree.fishingstarvr (Android, VR, no idea as to the quality but looks similar to Wii Fishing Resort, a solid fishing-lite title)
Project VR Fishing: https://www.youtube.com/user/Anmolder/videos (VR, upcoming title, looks promising)

South Fork Payette River Fishing - Idaho Trip

I drove up to the South Fork of the Payette River while on my recent trip to Idaho. It was raining and I wasn't optimistic about catching fish. Just wanted to get outside and explore new water.

Fish chased my fly, one even hit it, but none stuck.
The crystal clear waters here are amazing, even in the rain.

Fishing Grimes Creek in Idaho - Trip Report

This last week I travel to Boise, Idaho. I only had a couple of days to explore the many surrounding rivers and streams in the area, but I was incredibly excited to check out new water in a entirely different state. 
Unfortunately, I was almost rained out. However, by the second day the weather cleared, and I drove up to Grimes Creek. This creek is approximately 45 minutes outside of Boise, and looked like the perfect body of water for a small creek trout fan.

Initially cloudy and crisp, the day quickly warmed up, with fall colors greeting me at every turn. 
From my research, Grimes supposedly holds a variety of trout species, plus whitefish.
I have been warned before going to the creek of the waters might be a little too low to fish. Apparently, the best fishing is earlier in the summer, and during the fall the fish seem to travel elsewhere. Perhaps downstream to Moores Creek? Regardless I hit the creek hard, fly fishing with light gear, and a hopper dropper setup. 

As the sun slowly came out, the fish started smacking hopper pattern flys. They were quite small - the largest was probably 6", but it was still a blast to see them. I only landed a couple of these, all wild rainbow trout, no other species to be seen, and quickly released them.

The water levels were definitely low, but the creek wasn't unfishable. It was roughly the size of the East Fork of the San Gabriel in early summer, with a fair number of pools and runs to sample (just minus the trash and graffiti so common here in California).

I enjoyed fishing Grimes Creek. Surrounded by the beauty of fall, casting on an empty stream, was perfect. Hopefully I'll get to explore it again, this time when larger fish are present. 
Hat tip to Reddit user GH and to QuixoticAngler for info on this creek