June has been a dry month, it has also been a hot month. The last ten days have featured five 90 degree days. Now as we move into July I can say that after a bad June the streams I have fished are doing fairly well. The freestone streams have very cool waters and though the flows may be down they are not critical.
A mist rises above the cool water of a woodland stream. The damp moss covered rocks give off a fragrance that I can't describe.
A task that is mandatory come summer. As you can see the waters are cold.
Places like this will produce brook trout.
A beautiful hen..her markings are outstanding. Hope is she will survive to spawn come autumn and pass the beauty along.
There have been numerous articles written about the "technical" aspect of fly fishing. I usually don't read them for the reason I don't have much need to. I'm sure one can say they are required to use some form of technical fishing when they are in waters with high angling pressure. But there is also the fact that a trout eats when it's necessary. They eat for survival, if there is a large caddis hatch they will feed heavily on them which makes perfect sense, not to technical...but say there is no hatch going on do they stop eating or do they find something else to consume? Again the answer is not technical, they will find something else.
A section of small stream. There are trout in here at times and they are feeding. Looking at the section and trying to figure out where trout are, again not technical. Your options are, fish the right, center or left. Doing this your probably going to hook-up.
This brookie was taken from the left side within the shady part of the stream.
Pizzelle and Espresso...not very technical but very delicious.
Now as to the pocket knife....it's meaning is the buck stops here when it comes to technical fly fishing.
Last week while fishing a small stream I saw something that lifted my heart and spirit. It a sight that I do not see often and some of the most valuable lessons a parent can offer a child.
As I walked the path along the stream I saw a little girl and her dad fishing. It looked like they only had one rod and were sharing it. Suddenly the rod was lifted and a brookie was netted by the man. The net was placed in the water and the both of them looked into the water and were talking. As I approached them the man unhooked the brookie, the little girl wet her hands and the brookie was handed to her. She looked at it, smiled and put the brookie in the water.
This is Nattie..and her dad. We stopped and talked for a good fifteen minutes. And the talk was not only with dad but also Nattie. I was impressed how much she knew about brook trout, and fly fishing. She was aware of how to handle a fish and how to release it gently.
Nathan Camp Photo
This is Nattie working a brookie. The rod is a Tenkara 5'
Nathan Camp Photo
Here is Nattie gently holding and then releasing that brookie she just caught.
A snack and a drink is needed after awhile. When you see this it is an inspiration, a hope for the future. A future that looks good not only for the brookie but also for Nattie. Thanks Dad for your part in showing Nattie how precious the natural world is.
Last week I paid a visit to my "home stream"...a pretty little stream that flows through a beautiful valley. The terrain is favorable to old knees and it felt good to walk on level land instead of the usual boulders and briars. I probably know this stream better then any of the streams I have fished. I guess it's been over 15 years since I first tossed a fly in it's waters. Well I have not fished here since late March so I did not know what to expect. The town has been doing some tree cutting along one of the trails, most of the trees were dead or sick and taking them down was a good thing.
When I saw the stream I knew I was in for a good day. The flow was good "but some rain is needed"..the water cool and the shade plays a big part in keeping it that way.
The first fish of the day was a little brown. When I first started fishing this stream browns were not here. Over the years they have been showing up.
A fallen log created a deep pocket just as the water was about to flow over it. These are places where you can usually find a willing fish.
And as soon as the fly neared the deep spot the fish hit and hit hard. A few moments later and this wild jewel was at hand.
Below the log there was a very good looking plunge pool..so what the heck. It's a place where you only get one shot at presenting the fly....that's all it took.
This lady was in wait. She seemed to hit the fly before it actually hit the water. It was good to be back home.
In August of 2001 I was walking through the center of Rangeley Maine when I came upon a book store. We went in to browse and came across a book that has had an influence on me over these many years. The book was written by Kathy Scott and it is about a year spent crafting a bamboo fly rod. Now that is a pretty simple review but it is more than just that. Ever since I started fly fishing I have always wanted a bamboo fly rod. I think most of us have had the same feeling. Well I just could not afford to purchase a new one and the used ones that were available were not worth the money or the work that would be necessary to restore them. So I went on fishing my graphite and glass rods for all of those years. Still in the back of my mind was the dream to be in a stream casting a bamboo rod to little wild trout. Last March through the generosity of Mike Kattner I was finally able to realize that dream of casting a bamboo rod to my beloved brookies. Mike's gift of a 5' 1" cane rod has taken my small stream fly fishing to the top. There is no way for me to describe my feelings when I'm doing battle with a 5" wild brook trout on that bamboo rod. So I encourage you to read Kathy Scott's book and if possible "fish bamboo".....
A mountain freestone stream. Rumbling and tumbling along without any human hindrances. It's boulders create back eddys which provide sanctuaries for the wild brook trout which call places like this home. It is streams like this that I love to fish. Places like this where you become one with where you are. A place where the word trophy has a different meaning. It is a place where certain flies are created. These flies are not frame quality but are worthy of so much more.
This is one such fly. The Mr. Rapidan...a series of flies created by Harry Murray of Virginia. These flies have a distinct yellow wing, moose mane tail and float like a cork. I fish these flies and nine out of ten times they catch fish. I prefer the parachute version as opposed to the "wulff" style one.
These are what live in those mountain streams behind those boulders. The incredible beauty of this fish is highlighted by the little yellow Mr. Rapidan fly. I fished yesterday with Kirk on such a stream. In one small run of four yards alongside of a boulder I raised three brookies on a Mr. Rapidan.
The little streams have been holding up well. Last night we had a decent amount of rain so that will bring the levels up. It is at this time of year when water temperatures become important to the wild trout in these streams. The last week I have started to take the temps before I fish and as I move along the stream I'll check a few more times. The streams have been running quite cool, even cold in some of them. Seventy degree water is dangerous and a stream with temps like that should not be fished. For me 66 is the maximum.
This stream really shocked me...man that's cold.
Brookies are colorful fish, but sometimes I catch a few that show and extraordinary blue tint to them. I can't explain why they take on this coloration but when I find one with the blueish tint It makes me feel so good.
A gift from Oregon....got to get some "Frogs Fanny".
Here are three versatile flies that have been working quite well for me as of late. They consist of silk thread bodies, double dubbed thorax, and hackle. The fly is tied so that it is equally effective as a dry fly or a wet fly.
It is amazing how the hackles move in the water. The hackle used is somewhat stiff, not as stiff as a genetic rooster hackle and not as soft as hen or game bird hackles.
The fly is dubbed and then the hackle tied in. A second dubbing is applied and the hackle is wound and tied off.
Although I have seen very few of these light Cahills about the streams I fish this fly is still producing.
We need places like these. Wild free running streams that flow through pristine woodlands. Places such as these are shrinking and that is not good for anyone. I have met some very wonderful people over the years along the streams I fish. Most are surprised when I tell them of the the wild native brook trout that swim within the waters they are looking at. I tell them of their struggle to survive and how they are so important to our well being. Most of the people are unaware of the brook trout and how they have had to fight for every inch of the pure waters of the stream they live in. Most will walk away with a better understanding of these wild places, and that makes me feel good.
A steep hill, no problem. It's worth it when your quarry are wild brookies.
Good morning fellow throwers of the fly. You see before you a plate of corn pancakes, melted butter and maple syrup. A fine way to start the day. Fishing for trout has been really good. They have settled in sort of and the usual places in the stream is where you can find them. They have been very receptive to top water flies and that's what I have been giving them. I have not featured one of my best dry flies here in some time, but I have been fishing it right along. It still brings them up in any stream in any type of water. Bright sunlight or cloudy skies it really doesn't matter.
The bright clear water of this run produced several rises. I managed a couple of hookups and one to hand.
These wild brookies are in great condition. Healthy and strong.
This is the riffle at the head of a pool. In that pool were a group of brookies that I encountered. They came up and took the fly. One stayed on for a second and broke off. The other missed it twice.
This mess on my desk represents the materials that go into two very effective trout flies. The flies are uncomplicated and pretty easy to tie. Both flies are good floaters. Materials used are Coq de Leon, black dry fly hackle, grizzly dry fly hackle Primrose silk thread, Black foam cylinders, and Danville black waxed thread.
The first fly is the Skilton Ant. The fly was created by Bill Skilton of Pennsylvania. This fly has taken it's share of trout from Maine to Virginia. It's construction consists of hook, black thread, foam cylinder, and 3-4 wraps of black hackle.
This fly is the "Mini Caddis"...it is a fly created by Humberto Zilocchi of Argentina...Humberto and I have exchanged e-mails over the last year, he is also a fly tyer who appreciates simplicity in fly construction. Not only is Humberto a fine fly tyer he also has a passion for brook trout. The Mini Caddis consists of hook, Primrose silk thread, Coq de Leon feather for the wing, and grizzly hackle. It is a good floater and fish catcher.