Andrew Roth

Andy Roth is a fly angler and also a conservationist. His experience with fish and fly rod is international, but his concentration lies within the watersheds of the Midwest.

Posts about Fishing

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Posted by: Andrew Roth Updated: July 7, 2009 - 7:40 PM
July marks the beginning of my favorite time of year for top water bass fishing with the fly rod. Yesterday’s trip to the Upper St. Croix River would once again prove why our warm water rivers are quickly becoming known by fly anglers as a destination to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the country. 
The day started with the normal dropping of the shuttle vehicle at the down stream landing and the launching of the boat. In the last ten years fly anglers have transitioned to western style drift boats to navigate the wide, lower water sections of our larger rivers. These boats are designed to be highly maneuverable around rocks and draw little water. The drift boat also eliminates the need for gasoline engines and the noise created by them. The power source is the strong shoulders of the helmsmen, the current of the river, and the pulling of oars. This factor alone unlocks a sense of adventure from a time long past.
After 5 pattern changes my first fish came on a large yellow popper. This top water fly was cast to bank side targets and quickly “stripped” or “popped” creating an audible bloop, bloop, bloop. The fly imitates a frog or other struggling fauna which can trigger explosive strikes....and it does.  There were bass that leaped from the water and drove the fly down from above, There were bass that suctioned the fly from underneath with no discernible disruption to the waters surface, and there were bass and pike who would wake 6 feet across still water to chase down and slash at my yellow popper. I stuck with the popper the rest of the day. 
We alternated between floating and wading on this day since many of the targets under the shade of trees and along bank side grasses were unreachable from the boat. This added another pleasurable twist to the day with the cool waters of the St. Croix providing comfort to us from the heat of the day. There are few thing that I enjoy more when it comes to fly fishing than the ability to hunt and stalk from my hind legs. Wade fishing is total immersion and focus becomes hypersensitive.
When the boat landing came into view we were all tired and happy.....As it should be.  

Beware!

Posted by: Andrew Roth Updated: June 23, 2009 - 9:48 AM
I noticed the first of the Wild Parsnips in bloom yesterday. Contact with this plant can cause severe irritation, blistering, weeping and sloughing of the skin. The combination of contacting this plant and sunlight can be extremely unpleasant for anglers and outdoor recreators. The reaction is caused by the sun and is called photo-dermatitis. I always wear long sleeve shirts whenever I am out on the streams and this plant is only one of the reasons why. The above photo shows the Wild Parsnip in the foreground and a member of the Genus Angelica(same family) in the background. The Wild Parsnip has yellow flowers on a flattened umbel flower head. The Cow Parsnip will have white blooms, with a similar flower head configuration. LEARN TO RECOGNIZE THE WILD PARSNIP PLANT WITH THE YELLOW FLOWERS,,,,,,,, AND DO YOUR BEST TO STAY CLEAR OF IT.

The Stream and the Fox, What's Our Role?

Posted by: Andrew Roth Updated: June 12, 2009 - 7:27 AM
She came out of the woods and looked straight into my eyes..........
By 2 PM the river’s water had turned to mud and fishing was done on this particular trout stream for the day. Lunch was long over due. A new plan had to be made.  As we sat on the tailgate of the truck eating, the little red fox appeared. Her movement was apprehensive, but her mission was clear. As she paced back and forth, her eyes did not move from the food we held in our hands. The little nose had located the scent of our ham sandwiches and she would not be denied. Staring back in astonishment we melted like butter at the chance to feed this kit’s hunger and partake in a bond with the natural world that most often defines the very soul of the fly angler. The next 30 minutes were spent taking pictures and video. The fox, constantly moving, was difficult to photograph. The only hesitations were to consume the food that were thrown her way, and at one point, glancing my finger with her needle teeth as she took the ham from my hand.
 As we drove away our discussion about the fox continued. Would our behavior lead to the demise of the little fox? Had we compromised the very evolution that had taught these animals to be wary of us as predators? Had someone else fed this kit before us? Could you deny these eyes? Tell me your thoughts!   

Strip..Strip..Strip..

Posted by: Andrew Roth Updated: May 30, 2009 - 11:53 AM

One skill/technique that many trout anglers neglect, is learning to fish streamers effectively. Streamers are imitations of bait fish, leaches and other bigger forage that larger fish prey upon on a regular basis. These larger imitations provide larger fish with high calorie meals and enable growth rates that pale in comparison to eating small insects, one at a time. 

 I believe, that recognizing the water types on a trout stream where streamers can be most efficiently be fished is the first step in learning to build confidence in this skill. Throughout the day trout anglers walk and wade through miles of water looking for that perfect spot where they feel the trout will live. Some like the long riffles of gravely runs, some like the plunge pools and deep drops of highly oxygenated water and some like the long glides of even speed boulder strewn water. Trout anglers are confident in these places because they have caught fish there before. They know how to fish the water using dead drift, swinging and dry fly techniques and generally are happy with their success. Time and time again I watch anglers walk by the slow moving, long, mid-depth flats which are abundant on our trout streams. This type of water is difficult, if not impossible to implement the standard drift techniques so commonly used in the faster water situations. Consequently these areas receive very little fishing pressure, and yes, the fish go there for rest, relaxation, and to HUNT.

 Streamer fishing involves imparting action to the fly. Generally speaking, casts are made quartering down stream. Accurate casts are made to the far bank(12” from the bank is not close enough). The line is retrieved in a Strip.....Strip.....Strip fashion in which the length and abruptness of the Strips can be varied. Start moving the fly right when it his the water.

 Heavier tippets are needed when fishing streamers because of the violent strikes and size of the fish. Don’t do yourself the disservice of not changing to a heavier 3X or 4X tippet. The fish you encounter in these stretches will be the ones you dream about. Getting lazy by not having enough tippet strength to control them, will enable these fish to take you to the cleaners. 

Give streamer fishing a chance, or don’t and leave the big fish for me. 

"The Hatch"

Posted by: Andrew Roth Updated: May 25, 2009 - 9:23 AM

At this time of year, as the temperatures rise and spring begins to push towards summer, the aquatic insects that inhabit our trout streams actively continue their cycle of life. In greater variety than at any other time of year they begin transitioning from crawling and clinging insects that live below the waters surface to fully winged adults. Fly anglers refer to this transition of stage, or emergence, as a “Hatch”. 

Hatches occur on the streams with regularity, with each insect having its owns set of requirements to morph from one stage to the next. Mother Nature controls these cycles that repeat year after year, similar to the blooming of plants. It is these insects and their vulnerability during their transition from water to air that for the most part feed our trout. These insects are fish food. The trout go wild as they see what amounts to a buffets line of T-bone steaks and Quarter Pounders with cheese, Chocolate Blizzards and Apple Pies floating down the river, all free for the gorging. They must eat now, for soon enough, free meals will be hard to come by. 
 Fly anglers tend to react with wild elation to these hatches because all becomes visual.  The fish are all showing their position, their noses poke out of the watery flow and slurp the insects with the same fervor as the anglers cast. The flies are cleverly crafted with hook, fur and feather to imitate the natural and the greatest predator prevails.

Fly anglers also react with deep despair to these hatches because all becomes visual.....and they can’t catch a fish. Their fly is not a good match. Their drift is not right. They are rejected time and time again by a fish with a brain the size of a pea. The fly anglers will often cry.

The next time you hear a fly angler talk about “The Hatch” you will undertand more about this complex relationship between fish, fly and angler. You can bet there will be a story...... but few will tell about the time they cried.

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