Saturday, July 30, 2016

"Grace Burn"

Today I'll be fishing this lovely stream. I along with Steve who actually is the angler, will show you the beauty of small streams throughout this world. This is "Grace Burn", it runs through Healesville Victoria, Australia. I'm told that in a stretch of this stream that flows by a bakery there are a few wild brown trout. So lets find out.

Steve is an angler from Australia who is a reader of Small Stream Reflections. Last week he sent me a photo of one of the most beautiful wild brown trout that was taken from the stream pictured above.

Upon seeing it I requested permission to share it with you.

The brown trout from "Grace Burn"...he was fooled by a nymph fished as a dropper with a "Royal Humpy"...the colors as well as the spotting are gorgeous. This is a fine example of small stream wild trout. I hope you have enjoyed a look at some beauty from "down under"....thanks, Steve.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fishing With Mike

Over the course of a couple of years I have exchanged many e-mails with this gentleman. At one point I thought that I had read enough of them that I thought I knew this man. The other day I finally met him face to face and found out I did not even scratch the surface of what this man knows. Mike Stephens is his name and he is a resident of Connecticut. He fly fishes ties beautiful flies and handcrafts lovely fly rods. He has the soul of many who fly fish, his love for small wild trout comes out the first and then you can feel the love going beyond that to all levels of fly angling.

We fished the Farmington river for a few hours. On that morning we found a few willing trout and we were delighted to bring a few to hand. I hope that Mike enjoyed his time, for I know I enjoyed mine. We will fish again I'm certain but I would most like is a coffee or two with him stream side to hear some more of his wonderful stories.

Mike into a scrappy brook trout.

Mike Stephens photo

A wonderful gift from the Farmington...Mike would agree.

Photo ..Mike Stephens
We each fished this run along the bank. We brought numerous fish to the surface, but not to hand.

Photo..Mike Stephens
One of Mike's fine points is that he is an excellent photographer. Here he captured a Merganser with a brook trout.

We walked up the bank to our cars, and ended a fine day on the river.....Thanks Mike.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rainbow Perfection

While fishing the Farmington river a week or so ago I was having a pretty good day. Several fish were to come to hand and the time for leaving was close. I had been fishing various flies and decided to do some experimenting. I tied on a couple of soft-hackles and on one of them I put some floatant, well not so much on the fly but on the tippet where it was tied to the fly. I false cast once and sent the fly upstream. It looked pretty good bouncing in the various currents. I fished this set-up for several minutes, moving upstream as I did. I came upon some nice pockets, the kind that look like a trout sanctuary. I cast there and the flies worked through, but not on the surface. A little more Gink a false cast and off they went. As the fly drifted a few inches a large fish rose and grabbed that fly in what seemed like a heartbeat. The fish proceeded to teach me a lesson or two on how to beat the angler. This fish took me almost everywhere in a 25 yard section. There were some beautiful leaps and some of the bulldogging is hard to describe. I have caught many fish, and most were fighters, but this one was in the top 10.

I finally gained the upper hand and the fish reluctantly drifted toward the shore. A beautiful buck rainbow lie near the grasses. I glanced at the fish and said to myself "could this be wild". I am aware that the state will claim it's a holdover, and "there's no wild rainbows reproducing in the Farmington"...well looking at this fellow I would think there are.

Wild or.....perfect fins, tail full, a dorsal fin standing tall, and almost perfect spotting. I would put this fish in a class as the most beautiful rainbow I've ever taken


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Catskill Flies, Plus.......

Jeanette and I took a drive today to check on a few small streams and to enjoy the walks that bring us stream side. While the water was low we found numerous pools that held sizeable amounts of water. These pools had good flows entering them along with a lovely tree canopy keeping the water cool. Looking into a few of them I surprised a fair share of brookies who darted and were soon out of sight. This was a good sign, but rain is needed.

While driving home we passed what was an old fly shop. This shop was the first one where I purchased flies when I started my interest in fly fishing. Us older anglers who fished the Farmington river in the late 60's and 70's know of the shop I'm speaking of. The shop has been closed for some time and today for the first time I noticed the door open. I stopped and had a pleasant conversation with the son of the owner of the shop. I was able to gain a lot of information in the short time we talked. I will return and try to talk to him again, maybe I will get his permission to share it with you.

I would like to share with you several dry flies I have in my collection from various Catskill fly tyers. These flies are crisp and elegant and a joy to look at. I hope you enjoy them.

"The Beaverkill" this is one of my favorites. This fly was fished extensively on Catskill waters. In Mike Valla's book "Tying Catskill Style Dry Flies" there is a photo of this fly as tied by Mary Dette.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A "Better Morning".........

Early morning on the river. The sun was playing peek-a-boo through a sky of clouds. The sound of the water moving over the stones was sort of hypnotic. I eased into the river and gazed up and down looking for that rising fish, something I would not see. As I tossed the fly into the current I noticed how it just sat in the film before being swept into it's drift. The hope was there that I would be lucky this day and hook a fish on the first cast, it was not to be. Continuing downstream I noticed how the light was on the water. It appeared to be green to yellow to blue, almost the colors of a brook trout. Mornings seem to produce such variations.

I was now standing in one of those seams where I have encountered brook trout. So I concentrated on my fishing and made the right presentations hoping to coax a trout to take. I was soon rewarded with a spunky and very healthy brookie, one of several today.

As the morning moved and the sun cast more light on the water I moved to the stream within the river, that area that is in shade. I worked the soft-hackle towards a submerged boulder. As the fly slowed in the current a swirl was detected, a second later a big surface wake and the water exploded with a big fish. He knew his river and began to teach me a lesson. Long story short he did and I had all I could handle. I finally turned him and brought him gently into slower water.

As he lay there I could not believe how breath taking that fish was. I placed my hand into the water and lifted him focused a photo and a tail move and the brown was hook free and gaining strength. A few moments later and he was gone.

A small fly...and the fish it attracted.

That brown was the last fish of the morning. It was now 10AM and getting hot. I took a few photos of the flora as I walked out. Thinking to myself could there have been a better morning...the answer was no.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fine Brook Trout Art

About two weeks ago I received an e-mail from a blog reader from Maryland. He was inquiring about several posts on the color variations of wild brook trout. The man is an artist and had completed a water color painting of a brook trout and wanted my opinion on the coloration. In the photo sent to me I could see a brook trout just removed from a dark stream in eastern Connecticut, a brook trout that I am very familiar with. I responded to the e-mail photo with "it's beautiful". After another e-mail I requested a copy of the print, and the other day I received the of charge.

Below is "Brook Trout" and the artist is David Scheirer.

Some thoughts on this fine painting, when I brought the print to the framing shop the gentleman commented on what spectacular work it was. He said lets sit down and make sure we can create a frame that would compliment and highlight such a jewel. As you can see he did just that. I would like to thank David for the gift. The painting will hang above my fly tying desk.

If you would like to contact David, he can be found here.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Rising Trout...but to what?

These past few days we have been entertaining Parker. Yesterday morning I was given permission by Parker to take a few hours and visit the river and I did not waste any time in  taking him up on his kind gesture.

I was on the water by 7 and was into my first fish by 7:15. The river was alive with fish what I don't know. I looked for flies in the air, spinners on the water, and nothing was there, still the trout kept rising. I fished a variety of dry flies, wets and even a streamer and they did not take anything. It was a bit frustrating, seeing how brookies are not fussy but on this river that idea is out the window.

I moved upstream and found some willing fish. These guys took soft-hackles.

Riffles...those magical places where nice things happen.

Look what came from those riffles. This was a strong brook trout and I'll add a beautiful brook trout.

This attractor got hit very hard in the riffles.

This was a good few hours....and as Mark suggested the trout may have been feeding on "Tricos" those little flies....I tied up a couple of them in size 20 and will try them if I ever run into fish rising to nothing I can see.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Dog Days And Valsesiana Flies

The dog days of summer are upon us.....we have our grand-dog Parker with us for a few days and when he's with us all the world revolves around him. Every morning I ask him what he wants for breakfast and his choices keep me busy, he also gives me his dinner menu too. Fishing has been put on hold and walking in the woods is highlight of the day. While walking with Parker I have checked out a few small streams I fish. They are looking quite nice. The flows are OK and the temps cool, perhaps there is an outing on the horizon.

I have been tying a few flies, "North Country Flies" "Valsesiana" style flies that is. Theses soft-hackle flies date back to the 9th century. They are a pleasure to tie and a pleasure to fish.

These are obviously not 9th century patterns, but 21st century soft-hackle nymphs. Well I hope you are all dealing with summers heat and perhaps wetting a line to.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"A Year On One Fly"

For those long time followers of this blog know of my fondness for simplicity, as a matter of fact it's my sub-title. In this day of complexity and the "more is better" style of life simplicity has taken a back seat. I'm not against the "new way" but I prefer the alternative.

In the latest issue of Fly Fisherman magazine is an excellent article written by Yvon Chouinard. I have never met the man but I know I would get along just fine with him on a stream or in front of a vise. The article go's on to tell of his use of a fly "the pheasant tail soft-hackle". Yvon used this fly entirely for one year, and was so very successful with it. He used it in both fresh and salt water. In his article he speaks of the simple ways of fly fishing, both conventional and tenkara, which he was fishing before it was popular. I wish all of you would pick up a copy of Fly Fisherman and read the article in it's entirety.

While I tie the Pheasant tail soft-hackle, I don't fish it enough. The reason is "I don't know what the reason is"....well maybe I do.

This is the reason....Pete, aka TROUTI, is the master of this fly. He can take trout at will when he is fishing it. The group of anglers that is known as "The Crew" can attest to that. Here Pete is working a shady spot along the bank on the Farmington. I watched him nail two trout from that little run one July day several years ago. If there is anyone besides Yvon Chouinard who could fish the PTSH for a year and be successful it would be Pete.

Let's all can be done.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Farmington River Trifecta And A big Brown

As I drove along the river on this early morning looking for the pull off where I was to park. I was thinking about how this day would be. To myself I said as long as I don't fall in and I don't break a bone, or maybe break the rod, I would be OK, and a few fish would be some icing on an already good day. Stepping out of the car the woodland smells filled my head. Damp morning air is something all should experience.

I got geared up and was soon at the river edge. Gazing at the surface for a feeding fish I saw nothing. So a probing soft-hackle was tied on and the first cast of the day was made. I fished the nice run and into the start of a riffle. About the second or third cast the line slowed and the hook went into the lip of a fish. Soon a feisty brook trout was at hand.

I continued to fish the riffle and was graced with another brookie.

I moved back upstream to a deep run. It was full of the necessary structure that would hold a trout or two. Looking to the bank I saw some movement and spotted this little critter looking for his breakfast. I watched him for a spell and he did not mind the company. That changed as I lifted the rod to a lighting bolt he was gone.

Just past the wood jam I saw a fish rising. He was feeding on moths that were being blown into the river. I promptly tied on a big, size 12 elk hair caddis. I floated that fly several times and it was refused. Not wanting to put the fish down I decided to tie on something bigger. Into the box I gazed and a yellow Hornberg smiled at me. The fly was a size 10 with lots of brown hackle. Tied on and ginked up I made my cast as the fly floated perfectly right over the fish the rise came and the hook set. The first run that fish made sent a message to my brain..."big fish on ,your in trouble"....

Well I was prepared to do battle, but would the small glass 3wt, and click and pawl reel be able to do their part. The fish ran and the fish went down, he went left and right and broke the surface many times. Just as I felt I had the best of him he ran again and it seemed he got stronger as the battle went on. I finally managed to bring him into shallow water and got my first look at him. I don't carry a net so I said you better take a picture of this fish now because you'll never land him. I did however bring him in. As I reached for him he bolted like I just hooked him. I had a tough time turning him and gaining the upper hand. Luckily the hook held and he was at my feet again.

The next few pictures are of him in the water. The male had an impressive head with a hook to the jaw. The shoulders were wide and strong.

This photo shows the size of his head. It it bigger than the size of the reel.

That's a size 10 Hornberg in his lip.....I'm not good at measuring but I estimate 20".
The CGR 5'9" rod held, the reel did it's job, and the hook held....the angler had frayed nerves and a big smile.

To complete the trifecta a nice rainbow was taken also on the Hornberg.