Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving I found myself fishing a stream I had not visited in a long time. I wrote about it a couple of years ago. The stream flows through lots of private land and a couple of issues with a few landowners made for some interesting conversations. I'm glad that I received permission to access the stream. It is not like other streams I fish in the sense that I never know where the brookies will be found. They move quite a lot on this stream which I can't figure out why. But this day was a good one as far as weather issues. While not sunny it was still bright. Temperatures in the mid forties and not a breeze. The stream was in great shape and many of the pools were deep in places.
Places like this held brookies in the tail section.
I did catch this one despite scarring the rest of his mates.
A very nice plunge pool. These places hold nice fish. This one had an awful amount of twigs and branches within it. Usually I just pass by and let it be, but today I stopped and did a little house cleaning. Three or four branches pulled and that made all the difference. Obviously I could not fish it then so I moved on upstream for an hour or so. More active brook trout, and quite a few of them slipped off the hook. On my way back I stopped to fish that plunge pool. Several casts and no response. I think it was the fifth one when the fish struck. It went berserk. Airborne and a zigzag like a jet avoiding a missile. I finally got control.
I don't know if he was in the pool before I cleaned it out a bit but if so I'm glad he returned.
Silk thread is widely used in the construction of soft-hackles, spiders and flymphs. It has it's qualities and that can be really seen in flies that use the silk as the only body material. Flies that have fully dubbed bodies a normal cotton or synthetic thread is fine. Silk thread can be waxed which gives it a different look, I think it has a much richer tone to it. You can see what YLI silk in orange looks like coming off the spool, quite bright. The old masters of the North Country Fly used wax on most of their patterns and for good reason I'm certain, and no one can deny the effectiveness of these classic flies.
There are many waxes on the market. This is one that I like. It's easy to work with, not drying out if I leave the cap off overnight.
I strip off about 18" of thread from the spool. I then run it through the wax. From eye to the back at the point of the hook, and back to the eye. I also like to wind back a few turns to create a slight taper.
Some dubbing is applied. The color of the dubbing is entirely up to you.
The waxed silk Orange-Partridge.
Sausage and peppers. Last nights supper, and this mornings breakfast.
Last week when we had a day or two with some wonderful weather I decided to fish a stream that I've not fished in over a year. When you first see the stream it's flowing through some thick laurel, a pain to fish in such places. But a fifty or so yards upstream it opens up and is an absolute joy to fish. The stream is a series of riffles and pools, some of which are quite deep.
As you can see certain areas have some high banks. Along with being high they are also quite deep and have those lovely undercuts.
A typical brook trout from this stream. They are in prime condition.
There were quite a few of these guys about. How they manage to get on my neck is a mystery.
There was one hell of a root ball near the bank. A drift of the fly drew a flash of orange, which quickly vanished. Several more drifts and a connection was made. The fish was strong and almost took me into that root bank. Finally I persuaded it to come to me.
As I lifted him I could tell he was the boss of the area.
Now could you list the reasons why I don't fish here more often?
In a recent post about going "small and dark" when selecting flies to fish in winter John Dornik made a good comment on how to tie small flies on large hooks. A partridge skin contains a multitude of feathers, some beautiful and some quite ugly. The skin also has feathers of various sizes. The bird is perfect for almost any size fly and a #14 is most prevalent. As you will see in the photos of two skins there are some really outstanding small feathers up on the top of the shoulders and along the backs of the birds.
I have marked the section where these small feathers are located. These are well marked and usually in great shape.
This bird is marked showing the back feathers. Many of these feathers are great for small flies. This skin is bleached and is a favorite of mine.
Here are four hackles taken from the two skins pictured above. They are small and beautifully marked.
A completed soft-hackle fly. Orange silk body, brown squirrel thorax, and partridge hackle.....now this fly is tied on a size 12 hook. The large hook gives better hooking ability as well as it being easier to tie as opposed to tying it on a 16 or 18 hook. The hooks are Firehole 609.
Now that we have the "small" part explained I'm guessing your saying how can an orange body be considered "dark"...silk thread takes on a different shade when waxed or wet...this will be shown in a future post.
On Sunday November 17th 2019 Jeanette and I celebrated 50 years of marriage. No large festive gathering, just the two of us looking back over so much that has transpired. Most of which has been so wonderful, with some not so happy times. But the two of us worked to rise above the bad and now look forward to many more years together. The diner in the picture was one of our favorite places. As far back as high school this was a place to meet late nights for coffee and....So it was here we decided to have an Anniversary Breakfast in a place that brought back many memories.
So instead of a champagne toast over filet mignon it was a toast of coffee over eggs and sausage and blueberry pancakes....simplicity my friends it works in life.
Last week I wrote about a Sunday outing, it was part of the Veteran's Day weekend which as it turns out was the best day weather wise this month. The day started cool but warmed into the sixties. This was going to be the last day of the season for fishing my bamboo rod. I'm told that below freezing temps and bamboo do not work. So off I went and enjoyed the November day.
The stream was a bit low, but then again this stream has always been a low flow one. For years now I have said how brookies can do miracles within the streams they live and this one is a perfect example.
I soon found some willing participants and the day was a success with the first wild one to hand.
Moving along I found a few pools that have been good fish holders in the past and they did not change.
Another healthy brookie. As it turned out this one was the biggest of the outing.
I certainly picked a good day to end the season for SSR's bamboo.
Finally a calendar I like. TU sent me this pocket calendar the other day and what a great idea. It's much like there regular full sized one only in a compact shirt pocket form. Each month has high lighted holidays and the individual days have space to write your fishing related stuff. There are lots of journals out there but most are to large to bring stream side, this one is perfect.
With the coming of winter many of you will start tying flies. Most of you will replace the flies that have worked so well for you over the last season, and you may try a few new ideas. I have been wanting to improve on a fly that I consider one of the five best ever created. The Ausable Bomber. I can hear the screams and head scratching going on as I type. Let me clear it up. No changes to the material recipe of the fly, no one can improve on perfection. What I'm trying are a few barbless hooks instead of the traditional Mustad 9671. The first two hooks I'll be trying are these.
The top hook is the Orvis Tactical Dry Fly Hook. It features a wide gap, and black nickel finish. It is a light wire hook but it is strong. The bottom hook is a Hanak Wet Fly Hook. This hook features a black nickel finish, and a slightly longer hook shank. It is a heavier hook.
This bomber is tied on the Hanak hook.
This bomber is tied on the Orvis hook. As you can see both hooks were able to accommodate the amount of material needed for this fly. I have not fished these flies as of yet but I do have plans to.
This past Sunday and Monday were pretty nice days for November. A long range guess put those two days to be the best out of the next five. I was fortunate to be able to get out and fish a few streams and it was a pleasure. The stream I fished Sunday is one I'm familiar with. The area it flows through is protected and the fish are all wild. Two tributaries flow into it and at times they also hold trout. It's funny how you can be so familiar with an area and still find out something new, and that was the case for me on Sunday. The choice of equipment that day was a short glass rod, and soft-hackle flies. The stream was flowing nicely with a few pools that were absolutely gorgeous, slick and clear with several deep undercut banks. A few casts and a hard strike, several more casts and my first brown to hand.
Small and handsome. Deep color on this one with beautiful spots.
This is one of the tributaries. It actually is quite long and has some very nice plunge pools.
In those pools one can find willing participants.
Brookies show up here too. As I moved up the stream I had a brief scare. A dark four legged creature suddenly ran near me. It jumped on a fallen tree and ran across the tree to the other side of the stream where it quickly vanished. It took a few minutes to compute but I realized what I saw was a Fisher. They are really cool animals, and super fast.
Back tracking to where I thought he came from I discovered this. He was feeding on a blue heron. The kill was fresh and I was not certain the Fisher was responsible.
What a day, what a stream.
My best fish of the day. A healthy wild brown.
A little gray squirrel dubbing, and some starling hackle.....
Although the calendar tells us that winter is still a month away the weather tells us something different. We have experienced some pretty cold nights and chilly days in the last week. The guessers are saying that it will be colder in the next week and the talk of snow is a hot topic. To us anglers we have to change, no longer are the days of serious dry fly fishing, or the time of those exquisite little sulphur soft-hackles. For the most part the brookies and browns have completed their spawning and are now seeking food to enable some bulk to happen to their bodies to enable them to go forward into a tough winter. This is the time to reshape our fly boxes and to downsize the flies we use. As you see in the fly box above there is some what of a variety of soft-hackles and they are the core of my winter selection. They average in size from 12-14. I believe that smaller sizes will work better but for my eyes I'll have to settle for flies a bit bigger.
Materials for winter soft-hackles are simple. Various colored silk threads, sparse dubbing and hackle of starling, woodcock, grouse, pheasant and partridge.
Olive and Woodcock
Purple and Starling...dark purple silk.
Orange and Woodcock...a light dubbing on the body.
Purple and Starling. The body is dubbed with gray squirrel. This fly worked real well yesterday.
The February Red. Red silk body, hares mask thorax and grouse hackle.