Sunday, December 30, 2018

It's almost here 2019

In a couple of days a group of us small stream fishers will meet at a secret location to fish and attempt to catch that first wild trout of the new year. This tradition has taken place each New Years Day since 2011. Each year we select a stream, most times it's a different one and then we hope for decent weather. I don't recall any year when deep snow was an issue although we have encountered some white stuff which proved to be of no problem. Most times it's the cold that's the issue. I believe that 20 degrees was the lowest we have encountered up until last NYD when the temp was 4 degrees when we got to the stream. The winds were active and there was nasty shelf ice to deal with. But we endured it and fished until sanity set in along with a touch of frost bite. It was then we made it back to the cars and had some hot chicken soup and chili along with the hot coffee. No fish were hooked but no one cared. We had continued the tradition and there would be a time soon when that first trout would come to hand. 2019's weather looks to be great.

Kirk and Mark

Pete. I'll bet the fly was a bead-head pheasant tail soft-hackle....Mark Wittman photo
This July we lost our friend Pete. A great angler and overall awesome person. Pete was with us on our initial New Years Day outing and continued until his battle would not let him attend. In our stream selection for 2019 Mark suggested we fish the stream where Pete caught a brown on the first day. It was the stream where Pete last fished with us on a New Years Day. He won't be there with us but I'll bet he will be offering a fly choice to us.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Late December Small Stream Fishing

It was more like October than late December as I walked to the stream. Well that might be a slight exaggeration but it sure felt good. Leaving to go fishing somewhat later than normal, meaning 10 am or so means that the waters and air have a chance to rebound after the nigh lows. It's not scientific but some experience has told me that a couple of degrees will determine whether a trout will actively seek food or just sit tight. This day proved that to be correct.

I had several strikes as well as a few hookups in just the first few pools I fished. I observed fish following the fly and striking it just at the surface.

Simply beautiful fishing conditions. Water levels at their prime. This stream is special at this time of year. It is more open with the foliage being non-existent.

This fellow looked like he had some unfinished business he was dealing with.

Such places like you are seeing here are to be fished at all costs. You must place a fly close to that soft spot near the log. It is here where to water flows gently and it's a lovely place for a trout to lie. Now I will tell you I did loose a fly here, but it was worth it.

A CT. small stream wild brown
I put on a dry fly for better sight on my part, as well as better control. As the little fly neared the log I witnessed a dark creature rise and take the fly. I did not realize the weight or strength of the trout. He was a battler and he tested all of my skills to get him under control. It took some time but he eventually conceded defeat. When at hand it was then that I realized just how big this fish was, and how strong. As I released him back into the stream I wondered just how remarkable a trout he was. To get to that size in such a stream was so unbelievable.....something else I experienced first hand that day. Trout will take a small dry fly in winter.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Maple Syrup

Good morning. Wow what a nice breakfast, french toast and maple syrup. Maple syrup is one of our many comforts. It's many uses of which toppings are probably the best known. I like to add it to stews, and a blend of it along with cayenne pepper makes a great glaze for chicken.

I read somewhere that 40% of the maple syrup harvested in the U.S. comes from New England, and the state that produces the most is Vermont. It is also said that Maine has the sweetest maple syrup. Which leads to a sweet simple fly....Maple Syrup.

"Maple Syrup"
This simple fly has but 2 materials, tan chenille and yellow bucktail. I'm not certain of what it represents, probably a nymph I guess. It works when used, and I should use it more often...perhaps I should add it to my 2019 resolutions.

Here are a couple of "small stream" spey flies....

This one features a Jungle Cock eye.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas 2018

Jeanette  and I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.
May the peace of the season be with you. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Very Good Day

A familiar scene in many of my posts
Yesterday I met with Rowan (CT. Fly Angler) for some small stream fishing. It has been some time since we last fished together so the ride to the stream made for some good and informative talk. The day was really nice with sunshine and mild temps. The stream we had chosen was one that we both are familiar with. It has all types of water from wicked fast to long slow pools. We started fishing at the upper end, and quite frankly that is where we should have stayed. It was there where we had most of our success. In that area Rowan caught 2 brookies and some fallfish. I managed but one lone brookie. I fished a multitude of flies but that wasn't necessary for we both came to the conclusion that the heavy rains of the late summer and fall had changed the stream. There were some massive trees that washed in and down, these trees took out many productive pools. In one area we both talked about a very large boulder that had been moved by the heavy flows.

We had fun though and that's a big part of small stream angling. As I type this it's pouring rain outside, and they predict 2-3 inches. Hold on fellows.

Rowan stalking the stream near the red barn.

My only fish of the day. A brook trout which was in fantastic shape. It took a Gartside Sparrow.

The fishing was the highlight of the day but the bowl of hot venison stew was a very close second.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Simply New England"

I told you all about my deer hunt this past November. It is at the top of my list for memories incurred. The deer taken that Monday was so very special. I could write a small book on that hunt. Well one of the memories kept was the tail from that fine doe. I saved it and took the steps to keep it clean and preserved. The hair is fine and straight, and on one side the hair is black.

Last night I tied a streamer, a simple fly using two materials. The hair wing streamer is tied with items from New England which include the thread, tinsel and the deer tail. It was tied on a Regal vise which is also New England manufactured.

Danville thread and tinsel...from New Hampshire. 6/0 flymaster is my thread. I use this for 90% of my tying.

The Regal Medallion.....this vise is 18 years old. Many flies have come from it's jaws.

The "doe tail"....this is a fly that carries special feelings for me. It will be fished many times I hope over the coming years. The fly is tied in two sizes, 10 and 6. Mustad's classic 3665A, a classic hook seems to fit well. The body is flat silver tinsel, and the wing is white and black "doe tail"

Monday, December 17, 2018

This stream is a maybe.....

New England Stone Wall
Fishing last week took me to a stream that I have not been to since early October. I'm trying to select a stream to fish on New Years Day and this is one on my list. The stream has that special charm, with rock walls, narrow runs and countless hemlock and spruce. Have you ever smelled a spruce forest on a damp morning, it's intoxicating. The stream also has some very tricky gorges. The water that flows through these gorges is deep and runs slow, at times it feels like fishing a pond.

As I walked along I captured some of the more picturesque sights with photos. At one point a grouse flushed and flew a short distance to a tree. I walked to the tree and found it was the wrong one and it flushed behind me never to be seen again.

The water in places is quite thin. It flows quietly into deeper pockets. It is in these pockets where the strikes happened.

This post spawn female was looking to gain some weight when she took the streamer.

This is one of the gorges on the small stream. Parts of it hole water that is easily 6-8' deep. The water is gin clear and a few brookies were seen holding near the bottom. I tied on a bomber, for a December dry fly fish is needed and I figured this was a good chance to fill that need. A couple of brookies moved up but refused the bomber. Even as the fly sunk there still was not any interest. So I went back to the streamer. I cast upstream to the big rock on the left. As the current brought the fly near the undercut rock a fish hit.

Several nice runs and a few bottom hugging bull dog tugs and this beautiful wild jewel was at hand.

I continued upstream for a hour or so, covering lots of beautiful water. A few more brookies were taken, most in slower water.

Those streamers are a bit heavy. The 5' glass rod was having some difficulty in getting the fly out there. I chose to fish my St. Croix Avid. It's a 6' 3wt and it handled the streamer just fine.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Match The Hatch? Not Necessary....

Hook, marabou feather, and  a red collar.
The soft hackle streamer. This fly was created by Jack Gartside of Boston MA. As to the date of it's creation I'm not certain of but I came to know of it when I saw Jack tie it at a fly fishing show. Jack was a "great" fly tyer and to have him tie the fly in front of me has left a lasting impact on me. I use the soft hackle streamer in my fishing and I carry it tied as Jack instructed using the same materials. I also have been tinkering with some colors to arouse the curiosity of the brook trout. I have found that most colors seem to awaken bottom sitting brookies and I've tied a few of my favorites here. I have also put a tutorial of the fly and it's as Jack tied it....simple stuff.

This one has a olive marabou wing, with a collar of yellow and orange hackle.

This one has a white marabou wing, with a black and orange hackle collar.

This one features a white marabou wing, purple hackle collar and a peacock head.

Marabou, use the thinnest stems possible. This will enable you to wrap the marabou without it breaking and to maintain a slim profile.

Collar hackle can be the soft feathers from a saddle, strung schlappen on hen feathers if you have them large enough.

Wrap thread to about midway down hook shank. Tie in first marabou feather and wrap forward until all of feather is used. Stroke fibers backward while wrapping.

Tie in second marabou feather and wrap forward and tie off.

At this point you could whip finish and the fly would fish very well.

At this point tie in the black feather and wrap it 3-4 times as as the collar.

Tie in the orange feather and wrap as you did with the black one. Stroke back the fibers and tie off.

The complete soft hackle streamer.

This is the soft hackle streamer as tied by Jack Gartside. A gray marabou wing, and a collar of mallard flank.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

"Frosty Mornings"

Frosty mornings where the air temp is hovering around 30 and the sun is starting to make itself a factor in the day is a time for some incredible photos. These winter berries with a hint of frost upon them make such a lovely sight as I walk to the stream. These days can be very erratic in the trouts feeding time. It also makes for a hit or miss decision on what they will eat. A rule of thumb is that winter food sources are scarce and usually small, perhaps a small nymph is the best choice. Over the years I have come to realize that small is not always the way to go, and bottom bouncing is not always the best method. I have been fooling around with spey type flies for trout and have had some success with them. These flies are tied on #8 salmon hooks and are on the large side. Wow you say, that's big, and that's true but so is a Mickey Finn tied on a #8 streamer hook and that is pretty common for a trout fishing fly.

Well on this day I fished one of these spey flies and it did it's magic. While fishing these flies so many trout came up from the bottom to wildly swipe at the fly. It surprised me how they liked the presentation. As the fly was swinging across they would hit it, and as the fly straightened out the trout would not touch it. I have seen this before, I just don't quite know why they do it.

 I have a few of these fly patterns to share with you and will do so on my next post.

These brookies were not shy about crushing the large fly.

Not exactly a fly for framing, but a worker for sure. Simple construction, with a minimum of materials.

Last week we made some homemade sausage. Fried it and put it together with mashed potatoes, gravy and good.