Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Soft-Hackles And Spiders

Pattern #1, pheasant tippet tail, marabou wing, and one has partridge hackle the other has pheasant
I have been putting in a little "vise" time in between fishing outings. The flies presented here have been stream tested and for the most part have been welcomed by those who have seen them. For the most part the flies are soft-hackle, spider patterns and some have the look of dry flies and can be used for both dry and wet applications.

Pattern #2 Tail of Coq de Leon, thread body, natural mole thorax, and dun hackle.

Pattern #3 Thread body, hare thorax and three to four turns of pheasant.

Pattern #4 Orange thread body, squirrel thorax, and many turns of pheasant hackle. This fly is tied with a full hackle.

Pattern #5 this is a delicate looking fly. It is tied with a coq de leon tail, a thread body, natural mole thorax, and golden badger hackle. A fly that will fish well as "skater"

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Stream Along The "Stone Wall"

The stream along the stone wall
Back in the mid seventies I was told about a lovely little roadside picnic area. The area was part of a state forest with a parking area for a couple of cars. The facilities were minimal, out house, a few picnic tables each having a stone fire pit. There were stands of pine and hemlock with a border of mountain laurel, all of this located on a parcel of flat land. Jeanette and I along with my daughter who was 9 or so and my son who was 4 visited this area many times.

I would set up the the little portable charcoal grill, the inexpensive ones you could purchase at K-Mart. The cooler held hot dogs and maybe a 1st cut chuck steak. Some stuff for a salad and of course potato chips. Jeanette would have the kids busy playing badminton, or perhaps looking for flowers. Most times we had the area to ourselves and the kids could really burn up some energy.

Running through the picnic area was a beautiful little stream. It was pretty much free flowing and had open banks. A short stretch had been built up with stone to prevent the bank from erosion. The stream was stocked with trout back then, probably a 100 fish for the year. The first two weeks of the season saw that number pushed back to about 10. The fishing pressure was evident just by looking at the ground. Worm containers, empty hook packages, lost chain stringers. I had just started fly fishing, a convert who still bought a dozen crawlers in case. My fly selection consisted of a few flies from a shop but most were from K-Mart. After lunch the kids would nap and I would head over to the stream and fish. Usually in an hour or so I would catch a couple of trout that survived the opening day onslaught. Those were good days my friends.

Well after all those years I continue to fish that stream. The tables and fire pits are gone, the little bridge that crossed the brook is gone. The wall though is still intact. The stream now is no longer stocked but has wild trout in it, for that I'm thankful.
Earlier this month I paid a visit to the stream. It was up and running strong. It was going to be difficult to slow down the swing of the fly to allow for a trout to take. A few soft spots here and there were the targets. After many casts I was able to get the fly in a sweet spot. The line tightened and I felt weight. The fish was strong and knew how to use the current to his advantage. I managed to subdue him and soon had him at hand.

The years have been primarily good to me and my family, the picnic area with the little stream was a part of our young lives. And on this day it continued to be so.

Friday, February 23, 2018

How About April In February

This week, especially Tuesday and Wednesday were like late April. Air temps in the 60's and 70's great times to be on a stream. Kirk and I met at a nearby stream to see if conditions were satisfactory. The stream has a little problem which I won't discuss here, nothing major mind you but it could be. We geared up and walked to the stream, Kirk fished up and I fished down.

Over the course of several hours we used a variety of flies, most of them worked....dries including a foam bee, wets, streamers, muddlers, and soft-hackles. These fish went crazy for all of them.

In one particular run I hooked a dozen brookies...these fish were hungry and they were feeding.

Some of these brookies were still showing Autumns colors...the thought was it probably had something to do with the chemistry of the water.

This is the fly that worked best for me. Fished just under the surface and watch the water explode. Do you see any Fran Betters influence here?

Has this guy seen salt-water...what a vast difference in color...questions?

Days like this come perhaps only once in the winter......

....I'm glad I was able to take advantage of them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Maybe It's Right......

Is there a wrong way? Is there a wrong color? Perhaps this is a question asked many times by anglers and fly tyers. I for one will not give a definitive answer mainly because I don't have one. I like to tie in a style where I generalize. Some will say "stick to the pattern as originated"...no I won't. Mister when you tie keep it sparse, count the number of turns of hackle, be consistent or your fly will be rejected...by the fish or by the fishers?

Above are a few olive and partridge spiders that I first tied several years ago for a trip to Shenandoah. They were extremely effective on the brook trout there and have also taken there fair share of brook trout every where when fished.

An olive body, tied with a brown hen hackle. This one has a turn or two of dry fly hackle to allow it to hang on the surface.

Here is another olive body tied with pheasant hackle. While to two patterns above have a sparse look this one has a fuller look. The hackle is wound three to four turns.

This fly is tied with a purple body, and pheasant hackle. The thorax is peacock. Both the peacock and hackle are tied full.

This fly also tied with a purple body. It features a partridge wing, tied sparse, with a mole thorax which is tied full.

I've showed you a few examples of wet flies tied in various ways. Are these better or worse than the concept of tying like they should be? I can't say with certainty, but what I will say is tie them as you like and let the trout decide......the fly above has been a killer on my last two outings. I guess they like dark bodies and dark hackle with a touch of peacock...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Red Dots And Blue Halos...Wow What A Split

Guess what, I saw my first winter stonefly of 2018 on my last outing. He was spotted on a piece of steel, and he was fully aware of my presence. As I focused the camera on him he took off, luckily for me he stopped briefly and gave me the shot.

These few days of February have been kind weather wise. I'm delighted when the temperatures are above 32, for it keeps the ice out of the guides, and may even turn the fish onto eating. The stream was flowing a bit fast, but was shelf ice free. The banks were clear and in spots very soft. The fish were in a lockjaw frame of mind giving only a single hookup in the hour or so of fishing. So when things are slow I like to wander and see what's beyond the next bend, perhaps I should have stayed put.....

As you can see it looks real good, maybe for April, but swift water and few pockets were not going to get it done.

As I moved down to and area that was new to me I saw some incredible sights, one of which was this growth of ferns. The colors were so vibrant, green like spring. Beyond the ferns I could here the water crashing down, and it was loud.

Walking to the edge I could see the stream wildly crashing down. It was a beautiful sight, moss covered rocks, hemlocks, and polished stone. I sat here for awhile taking in the beauty, and figuring how I was going to proceed....caution, caution, and more caution.

I'm proud to say I made it down safely. The pool before me looked good because of the fact that there was a soft spot in the currents that just may hold a fish. As I moved to get a footing to make a cast I stepped onto a bunch of woody debris that had collected near the edge. The wood gave way and I found myself with one leg on the rock and the other in the water. I was stretched to the limit, I mean painfully stretched. I tried to get myself right and after a few tries I was able to bring my rock leg down to meet mt other leg. Leaning back for a few minutes I was able to get stable, and the pain was subsiding. As I looked in front of me I could see that the area ahead was much more angler friendly. Now since I had gone through some hell I said may as well make that cast...I did and I....

Made contact with this beautiful creature. Brilliant colors with lots of red dots and blue halos. I guess the soft hackle looked like a swimming stone fly. I hobbled out and thankfully some pain killers and rest I'm now A-OK.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sometimes A Small Stream Can Give Up A Big Fish

Mid February, the whole of brook trout forest takes on the look of steel, gray, dark and cold. It was such a day that I ventured to a familiar stream, a stream that has some spectacular brook trout. The last time I fished this stream it was on the wild side, it was struggling to keep its water within its banks. Ice chunks were almost every where which made for a very difficult outing. This day the stream was swollen from recent heavy rains. My thought was to drift a bead head nymph, one with some color and flash and try to entice a strike. A good hour and a half and all I was gifted was a bump.

I even used Pete's "TROUT1" method which is "when the water is high fish close to the banks" and....

that's how I came upon this jewel.

I have learned to accept days as such, slow and not much happening. It is days like this that I try something different. I went to a stretch of stream that I have not fished in years. Below a set of falls I found some water that in the past has been productive from time to time.

The first run below the falls I drifted the nymph and it took a strong hit. The fish was on and as it came close I saw it was a silver gray fall fish. Not a bad start.

I fished for some time without a single strike. Nearing the end of my day I cast the fly to this pocket. The line stopped and suddenly the stream erupted. The fish leaped and ran, then he leaped and ran again. The strength of the fish was not like I was used to from fish in this stream. I had all I could do to keep control and I hoped the fly held. Finally I gained the upper hand and glided the fish into calmer water.

The trout lay in the water with it's eyes looking wildly at me, the fly barely holding. The rainbow was in prefect shape, strong and well conditioned to fast water....a small stream steelhead?

As I lifted the fish from the water I could not believe it's power. I noticed a pronounced kype and thought it looked like the steelhead I had caught in the salmon river in NY. I placed him back into the stream, fly had already fell out. It did not take but a second and it was a memory.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Grand Kids Run"

When my grand kids were young we took them to a little stream for a day hike. They were thrilled to just walk in the water pick up stones and find lots of squirmy critters as well as a host of crayfish. The woods were full of birds and the never ending scolding squirrels. We came to a section of stream that needed some help with the flow direction. So my two engineers rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They moved some stones from the far bank and they placed them along with sticks and branches to enhance the flow enabling the water to move to an undercut bank. Construction completed we had lunch and talked about what we did and how it benefited the trout. The name given this area would be "Grand Kids Run"

Over the years nature had changed the run...I had fished it each time I visited the stream and over the years had on and off success.

"Grand Kids Run" this is how it was when I fished it one winter day.

This was the brown that was holding in the run that day.

I did a post about this outing and fellow blogger Ralph Long of "Ralph's Fly Box" read it and drew a beautiful likeness of that brown. The drawing was gifted to me and is truly appreciated.

The drawing of "Grand Kids Run" has been framed and hangs where I look up and see each time I'm at my desk. Thanks Ralph...your quite a talent.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Where Have All The Winter Stones Gone, A Long Time....

Winter stoneflies, those little black critters that cover the stream banks on some of the coldest day of winter. These flies that have been about as mentioned in a couple of blogs as being prolific this winter. As for me I have not seen even one. I have put some time into my winter outings, and have seen some trout rising but they were feeding on those flies that one can't see, "midges". So again I tried to find my first winter stone on this outing.

The "starling and purple" has worked for me in the past as a good winter stone imitation, so I selected it, and gave it ample water time to "get it done"

No winter stones here, only winter wood. Beautiful though.

Here is a trout holding spot if ever there was one. I know from experience they hold here and they feed on winter stones. Ten drifts with the starling and nothing...then another ten drifts with the bomber and the same result.

I fished pretty much the whole stream, perhaps three hours and nothing. I did not see even one winter stone. Was I frustrated? No way, these kind of days happen in the winter. This is usually where I stop fishing this stream. There is a small brook that comes into the stream and it is here that I've had success in the past. I cast the starling and purple along the soft seam, it drifted just under the surface. It had moved only a few inches when a trout moved on the fly, but did not take.

A half dozen more casts and "bam" hit and hook. A highly spirited brown took the fly. He pulled and ran to every place he could...in the end he gave it up and glided into my hand. My three hour plus day was a success. A handsome wild brown sipped my winter stone...P.S. I still have not seen a winter stone.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Woodchuck Caddis

The woodchuck caddis....with groundhog day in the books and so much attention paid to this lovable rodent I chose to splash some attention his way also, be it a week plus from his day, better late than never. I'm not really sure who was the creator of this fly but it sure looks like a bit of Fran Betters influence in the fly.

The materials are woodchuck, dubbing, I used orange opossum, and brown and grizzly hackle.

As you can see it has a great caddis shape.

And it has super floating ability.

I tie them with a "hot spot" at the tail end of the fly. This one uses hot orange thread. I also use a yellow thread spot.

And yes they do work. I was able to bring a few to the surface on my last outing.