In this episode, Craig Bailey, the man behind Knee Deep Expeditions and author of the e-book, ’10 Feet Above Water’, shares his unique journey into the realm of fly fishing, having started not with more popular pursuits like trout, but venturing into carp, gar, and buffalo fishing. He explains his fishing methods guided by passion and practicality, ranging from sight-fishing in Tennessee, and saltwater fishing in Belize, to running fishing trips in Mexico, Brazil, and Canada.
Show Notes with Craig Bailey on Freshwater Sight-fishing. Hit play below! 👇🏻
(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)
Sponsors and Podcast Updates
Episode Chapters with Craig Bailey on Freshwater Sight-fishing
1:28 – Craig grew up in Cincinnati and it was the series called The Walker’s Cay Chronicles that got him hooked on fly fishing.
2:36 – He spent a month on an island in Belize to learn fly fishing and do saltwater sight-fishing.
4:18 – He tells us how he got into what he is currently doing at Knee Deep Expeditions when he went back from Punta Gorda, Belize. When he saw the carp episode of The Walker’s Cay Chronicles, he came up with the idea of teaching saltwater fishing back home.
6:20 – Eventually, he expanded down to the Tennessee River which he says got everything that he wants in a sight-fishing environment.
7:53 – His guiding season starts from July to August which he says are the best months.
10:15 – He talks about fishing for gar. Two years ago, they caught a 62-inch gar which he got certified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
12:27 – He describes the measuring device that the IGFA uses to certify a catch.
13:20 – A typical fishing trip with their team goes for about three to four days. They also do campfires and go out for dinner. He tells us more about the unique fishing expeditions they do.
16:45 – I ask him for tips for saltwater sight-fishing. He created a fly which he calls a gar fly. It’s a small baitfish pattern that is about four inches.
22:11 – He says that the buffalo is the hardest to catch. He can only target them on the sand flats so they can easily see the fly. They have very small mouths so Craig downsizes his carp fly.
29:16 – We talk about the drum. They like rocks and clear water. He also shares his technique for catching carp and buffalo.
31:40 – He shares about his setup which he calls the Walmart set.
33:51 – He gives more valuable tips for successful freshwater and saltwater sight-fishing. He says that it’s harder to spot fish in freshwater because the water is not clear.
35:01 – We dig into the importance of proper equipment in sight-fishing. He recommends having a skiff. He uses a 2006 Ranger Banshee fiberglass boat.
35:16 – He wrote a book entitled “10 Feet Above Water”.
35:59 – We explore the Tennessee River. He also gives tips on exploring new water.
38:52 – We dig into his book. It has an instructional video. It is exclusively on Apple books.
41:53 – He talks about Thad Robison who has a show on Discovery called “Fish or Die”. He fished with Craig’s crew two years ago. He also says that the longnose gars are aggressive. Their scales and sheer power are more dangerous than their teeth. So they have their clients wear gloves when handling gar.
44:31 – He trained a group of guys in Punta Gorda, Belize for fishing trips. For him, Belize is the most technical and hardest location they offer. He also mentions other locations where they have partner guides and villas.
46:46 – He also trained military folks so they could get an FFI certification.
49:18 – We talk about the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival. Their 23rd annual event will be at The Meadow Events Park on January 13th and 14th, 2024.
52:46 – He commends Capt. Jeff Arnold from Louisiana who is one of his favorite guides. He loves to target Gar.
54:55 – If he could book a fishing trip for himself, he’d go to Exmouth, Australia.
56:31 – He has three species on his list: golden trevally, golden dorado, and golden mahseer.
You can find Craig on Instagram @Knee_Deep_Expeditions.
Visit their website at KneeDeepExpeditions.com.
Resources Noted in the Show
Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below
Conclusion with Craig Bailey on Freshwater Sight-fishing
Craig proclaimed that in terms of fly fishing and finding his rhythm with it, he’s a self-taught angler, but when it comes to identifying those who could enhance the Knee Deep Expeditions, he recognizes the value of external expertise, as shown in his remarkable crew of guides.
This episode indeed painted an exceptional and intriguing portrayal of a fly fishing guide service that sets its sights a bit differently than most. And that’s what makes Craig and Knee Deep Expeditions stand out in the wide expanse of the fly fishing world, specifically freshwater sight-fishing.