My last few outings have been pretty productive, after all it's the end of January and my ability to get a fish to strike at something really needed some thought. When water conditions are cold insect activity is not at it's best and a slower metabolism of the trout usually does not bring banner catches. But a one or two fish outing is fine with me but I was given a couple of days of "put this down in the journal" results. The flies chosen to take the heavy lifting were streamers. Hair wing, feather-wing and marabou. These flies are scaled down to the size of the fish presumed to be in the stream I'm fishing. A good read on the stream as in speed of flow, the pockets and seams where fish maybe holding all comes into the mix.
Looking at the stream photo you can see the slack area of soft water, a likely fish holding area, yes it was and I took a nice brookie from there. Now on the other hand you can see the swifter flow of water towards the bank. A streamer was cast so the current allowed it to drift to almost right under the bank.
As the streamer stopped it's swing a brookie hit. Into the current he stayed trying to get his freedom. Soon he was at hand and soon he was back into the stream.
A little bit about the fly. It was gifted to me by a fellow who reads this blog He hails from Ohio and is known as "dougsden"...one of the flies is this red and white marabou streamer. While most would think a yellow and red combination would be better suited for brook trout like the "Mickey Finn" the red and white has been a producer for many years. As a kid I fished a Red and White spoon with success. And going over to fly fishing the Red and White bucktail has earned a permanent spot in my fly box. One day when I get the urge to type I'll tell you a story of the Red and White bucktail and it's day in the sun while fishing Upper-dam in Rangeley Maine.
Another stunning January small stream brook trout on the Red and White marabou.
Not the usual food featured at SSR's but it's was what I had in the fridge from the night before. Starting my fishing later in the day I need to take something to eat for lunch, and this was it...roast chicken, seasoned with spices and cayenne pepper. It's amazing how simple food can taste gourmet out on the stream.
On Thursday we had a major rain event. The ground was snow covered, and the temps soared to the sixties. I estimate 3 plus inches at my house, with reports of 4-5 inches elsewhere in the state. I knew that fishing was going to be a challenge but I went just the same. As you can see the stream was swollen with semi colored water. Where it ran over the rocks and riffles it was cleaner but real swift.
The air temps were in the mid to upper thirties with bright sunshine and combined it offered a pretty good feel to a late January day. I started fishing a streamer and I managed to get several takes but no hook-ups. It was funny how the brookies would rise up from the bottom to take a streamer near the surface. A couple of choices came to mind. Maybe a weighted woolly bugger, which would bring the fly down closer to the fish, or a big stimulator seeing how the fish had no problem coming to the surface of something to eat. I didn't have a bugger but did have a stimulator. So on went the #10 stimulator. I fished it for a spell and not a single rise.
I selected a soft-hackle wet fly and fished this gentle looking spot. Cast, strip, and lift. The third time I saw the fish move on the fly but it backed away. I repeated the effort a few more times and he went for it and took it.
My goodness what a strong fight that lady put forth. I don't know if you can see her pectoral fins but from there size this brookie has been in the gym. When released she disappeared into the stream. I would love to say I caught a few more but that was not the case.
I got home around 2pm and waiting for me was this...so hot, so home-made and so good.
The North Country spider. They are a fascinating group of flies. Their basic structure and material are the epitome of simplicity. I love tying and fishing these flies. The thrill of catching a trout on a fly that was created 150 years ago is beyond words. One of the problems is some of the materials used to tie these spiders is no longer available or the price for them is so expensive. In Robert L Smith's book he lists feathers used in construction of North Country spiders along with photos. He also lists alternative feathers which can be substituted. These substitutes are in many instances what I use.
Published photos of North Country spiders also show a wide variance both in color of the fly as ell as the materials. Some of the issues I find are in the color of the silk thread used. For instance yellow Gossamer silk waxed or not can show a vast difference in body color. Does this make a difference to the fish, I don't know, but apparently it may have for the originators of the spider patterns make special mention of it in their notes. The pattern selected here is the Hare's Lug and Plover. I used the photo from Robert L. Smith's book the North Country Fly. It is on page 174 and shows the fly as it should be tied. In my tying of this fly all of the materials are as the pattern calls for with exception of the hackle. Plover is available but expensive and hard to get. So looking at Smith's photo I tried several hackles which I have to create this North Country classic. The first fly is tied with hare's lug dubbing, a fine gold wire and the hackle is a feather from a woodcock.
The second fly is the same dubbed body and gold wire. The hackle feather is from a dyed hen patch.
The third spider is the same body and gold ribbing. The hackle feather is from a hen pheasant.
synthetics. The packages shown here are natural and dyed squirrel. In my opinion these materials have a life like movement in the water that trout find hard to resist. In the past I have used spikey dubbing as a thorax but lately I have been using it as a body material. It has one drawback and that is it is almost impossible to work with. It does not play nice and no matter how much you yell and curse at it it still does not comply. In the past I have over dubbed the body and let the fish thin it out. Sometimes those tooth guys would over thin it and that took the concept of a spikey body away.
I have started using a method of splitting the thread. This enables me to put just how much fur I need and when twisted in the thread it makes for a secure body. I may loose a few hairs but not nearly as much as I would by just dubbing on the thread. Below are a few patterns using the split thread dubbing technique.
Silver Badger hackle and squirrel body.
Golden Badger hackle and squirrel dubbing
A caddis tied with hen hackle and a fox squirrel dubbed body.
Over the last week or so winter has been in effect, and has moderated. Some of the nights have been in the high teens to low twenties. The days however have pushed the high thirties. What I'm saying is that as long as there is no buildup of ice in the guides I'm fishing. My outings have started late usually getting on stream about 10. Fishing at that time can be from stinko to OK..it's after 11-12 that it really heats up for an hour or so and then slows down again. Flies that have been working are streamers, wet flies, and soft-hackles. Dry flies have been stagnant, although I continue to try them each outing.
This day found me on a stream that flows through a large forest of hemlock. A mix of pine and maple also seen as well as the winter fern and laurel.
This pool was a delight to fish. First off I clearly saw two brookies in it which I was certain I would be able to coax one to take the fly. I cast upstream and let the soft-hackle drift. A dark shape swam up to it and ate it. I pulled back to set and before I finish I saw the brookie spit the fly back. A half dozen casts later and not a response. A fly that I have extreme confidence in at this time of year is the "pinkie"...tied it on and sent it into the stream. Six casts later and nothing. Now I saw two fish in there one that took the fly and one that didn't. I changed to a fuller dressed wet fly and on the second cast the fish hit the fly. A hook-up and a brief battle and.....
a wild one was at hand. a quick pic and back into the pool he went.
A series of fast water and some fishy looking pockets. There are generally fish in these pockets and if the fly drifts close to them they will take.
Look at those fine spots. Brook trout never disappoint me.
I just want to pass along some of my future plans...first off I'm still fishing and I have a few reports coming. The weather here has been cold and in the next few days winter will provide us with some snow. I don't mind winter but it takes it's time going away. Well not to dwell on winter to long we have much to do here at SSR's including tying flies, making plans on future outings and getting my stuff organized.
Small flies. I'm going to try fishing the little flies, 18 and 20's. I probably would go smaller but if you can't see them why try.
This is one stream that is on my "must try list"...I have checked it out several times even fished it once. But a concentrated effort to find out what actually lives here must be made.
So before the white stuff flies maybe I'll get one more outing in.
Oh by the way in 27 days pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training....first game Feb. 22nd.
I don't often take videos while fishing. Sometimes a scene strikes me as being special for one reason or another and I'll press record and let it happen. Here are a couple of them that I hope you'll enjoy.
A great deal of what you'll see and read in this post will never make the cover of any popular sporting publication. It will not excite most anglers nor cause a run on fly fishing tackle. What I hope it will do is to show people just how much pleasure, "pure pleasure" that is that can be obtained while fishing these little "intimate" waters. One can walk the stream and fish those small pools and never take a strike. The conclusion would be "there are no fish here" and suddenly a trout will rise and take your fly. So rather than type many words and try to tell you about what a small stream experience is, I'll just let the photos show some of what it is. I hope you'll find pleasure in the photos and I hope it will motivate you to give the small stream a go.