One of a few outings I enjoyed last week. This is a stream I wrote about several months ago, the post was "I don't know why I don't fish here more often"...it's a pleasure to fish here because of it's easy access. There's no back breaking bending or those high banks with lots of low thorns and brush. The morning was cloudy with a chill. Flies were selected by sight with no real purpose other then "this looks good". The water was clear and a few brookies could be seen darting away. I fished for and hour with only a bump. Well that's winter fishing.
As the time moved to that "it's time to eat" hour the action picked up. In this area, about a fifty yard stretch. The bottom of the stream was all gravel. The water depth was maybe ten inches. It was here that the fish began to play.
The first lady to come to hand. Healthy and very spunky. She took a soft-hackle...as did several others.
I tell you this section of stream was one of the best areas I've fished this winter.
This one was highly spotted, mostly yellow but a few red ones circled with blue halos. The feeding was brief but that's how it is in winter.
Walking out I found this acorn. The squirrel peeled the case and started eating it. The question is why did he abandon it?
I had a fishing story planned until I received these pictures. As you may know I have mentioned a friend in the past post on this blog. That friend was Pete AKA TROUT1....His son Matt and Matt's wife Melissa brought into this world a beautiful baby girl. In these pictures are Matt and his daughter fly fishing a small stream. I can not express my feelings when I saw these pictures, but lets just say they were way over the top. And I have a feeling there is a man looking down at them with the biggest smile.
Last week while fumbling through a pattern book titled Minnows Of North America And Their Streamer Imitations by George Herter I came across a fly that was name the California Coachman. This is the first I've seen or heard of this pattern. So I tied up the fly and when completed it looks like a fine brook trout fly. The fly is similar to the Royal Coachman with the exception of a yellow floss body and yellow hackle.
This is a Royal Coachman wet fly. This fly when tied in it's many styles which include bucktail and featherwing streamer it is also tied as a dry and wet fly.
Christmas Eve day I ventured out for a couple of hours armed with a Royal Coachman wet. I stayed with it and after some 60 minutes had my first hit.
The water was cold and that's was probably why the slow feeding. Once the stream hit that "right" temperature the fishing got better.
I'm always impressed at the super condition of winter brookies.
In the small sunny pockets of the stream were a few fish in waiting.
And the Royal Coachman was there to do it's magic.
This Christmas season I'd like to share a few images that reflect the feelings of many. Most can relate to them and draw a parallel with a similar image in their own lives. A very Happy Holiday season to everyone.
In his last post blogger Bill Trussell told us of his trip to Vermont this past fall. Bill and his wife Cathey hail from Alabama. Bill is quite a fly fisherman and when he visited Manchester VT. he was thrilled. In his post he mentioned the Battenkill River. It's a wonderful and historic trout stream. Many say the NY section fishes better. One thing that is certain is Lew Oatman. Lew lived in Shushan NY, an avid fly tyer and fisherman. Lew is credited with the creation of many streamer flies and one of them is the "Shushan Postmaster"...the fly was named for his friend and postmaster Al Prindle.
The Shushan Postmaster represents a baitfish that inhabits the waters of the Batenkill. It's tied like this..Hook Mustad 3665A I use #10-8...Tail, Mottled turkey...Body, yellow floss...Rib, flat gold tinsel...Throat, red quill fibers...Wing, fox squirrel tail...Cheeks, Jungle Cock.
Such a beautiful day. A winter day that felt like early November. There were times of clouds and sun with a little breeze that turned into a gusty wind. I was fortunate to have finished my day before that wind took hold. We had received rain and a snow melt a day or so before I chose to fish this stream. Not knowing what I would find when I parked the car. But a glance at the stream and a large smile broke out across my face. I knew this would be a great day and even if the fish did not play ball just being out here would be fine. This being mid December I had a quest to fill, that quest was to catch a brookie on a dry fly. Half the month gone and that feat had not happened. So this day would be devoted to dry flies and a possible rising fish.
Now the logical choice for a fly would be a "bomber", perhaps a elk hair caddis. This was not the case. The fly chosen for a first run was a "...... ..."...many will say that's not a dry fly but when fished with a little floatant it sure is. Well it did just that and my first brookie of the day was at hand.
This pretty guy just lost it as the fly drifted by. A very spirited fight took place and a very thankful angler completed his quest. Can you guess the fly. A very versatile fly, wet-dry type.
This run has been written about many times over the years. I love it. Every time I fish it I'm rewarded. That laurel bush is key to my success here. Brookies have come to hand here on everything. Streamers, dries, soft-hackles, midges and big muddlers.
Today it would be the "bomber". Did I ever tell you how much I like this fly. The bomber was called to duty because the "...... ..." was MIA. Look at the colors on this jewel.
I continued with several more willing brookies. Thinking about it on the drive home I said this has to be one of my better days this fall-winter season.
Have you ever opened your eyes in the morning a a particular image or images popped into your eye sight. I'm sure many of you have experienced such a thing. This morning as I started to get out of bed the image of a flowing stream in the month of June grabbed me. That image led to another and another. It was a time of renewal, warmth and promise. Those images stayed with me through my first cup of coffee, and are so strong now that I write this blog. I wish I had the words to describe that feeling but they are not available. So I'll trade the words for photographs and hope you can see the feelings that I can't put into words.
All through October, November and the first week of December the streamer bite has been very poor. Why that is I can't answer. I previous years those months have produced some spectacular days with the streamer and in my last outing I was determined to try to catch a trout on the long fly. The day I chose to fish was the day after a snow event. Walking to the stream was a joy. Wet snow was clinging to everything, it was a winter wonderland. The snow stayed pretty much where it fell and not down my neck. I cast my fly in a very good spot. The anticipation of a vicious hit was there. Cast-strip, cast-strip and no response. I worked 50 plus yards of prime stream and no takers. The morning moved on and several streamer flies were used. Should I go to the pinkie or stay with the streamer? I chose to stay with the streamer. In one pool I took my first strike. As I was lifting the streamer from the water the fish whacked at it. Several more casts and the same thing. It appeared that they were rising to the streamer. I continued to fish the fly just under the surface and that was the trick.
The first one to hand. The fly was almost on the surface when he took it.
As I fished along I was able to take several other brookies fishing the streamer the same way.
This girl was chunky, apparently well fed but thought may as well add a bit more to the belly.
I'm not sure what made the fish react to the top water streamer, I'm just glad they did. Perhaps the streamer bite is here to stay, I hope so.
On a snowy day what's better then a hot bowl of Italian vegetable soup?
The parachute dry fly. I don't know who created it but I do believe it is one of our most effective fly styles ever created. I know everyone who has fished for trout has used this type of fly. There have been many times when the "parachute" has brought a few big ones to the surface for me. The body profile brings this fly in a perfect position for a feeding trout. It's circular wound hackle makes it float well and the parachute post makes it highly visible. I first saw this fly style tied at the Fly Fishing Show in Wilmington MA. I was especially taken by the way the tyer had a gallows type of set up in order to accomplish the the job. Over the years I have tried my best to recreate this fly and I can honestly say "I can't do it"...I have been blessed by other tyers who have kept my fly boxes full of these parachute flies. I have not given up on trying to master this fly and I will show you some of my work this winter.
The Adams Parachute....up first.
Various sulphur parachutes...I have a fondness for this fly.
Winter outings are tough. The fly selections you have used during the rest of the year seem to draw no attention. Even my favorite soft-hackles and that never fail dry the bomber are ignored. I find this issue to hang around until the true winter sets in. Brook trout can adapt to cold water better than other trout and will adjust to it in time. It is at that time when I stand a better chance of catching brookies on more familiar patterns. Until that happens I will fish a fly that I consider the best winter brookie fly around. As I show this fly most will say, "that's not a fly" and probably so. But then again is a gray ghost a "fly"?...all that stuff is for another day and discussion....focus.
Here is the best winter brookie fly. It's called "pinkie"...tied a bit different than the San Juan and obviously a color that is not common in our streams. Aquatic worms are present in almost all streams and can be found in sunken leaf debris. I once observed a group of college students surveying a stream. They showed me the aquatic worms the found in a few yards of stream and I could not believe it. The other fact that was pointed out was the speed at which these worms moved. They lifted one out from the bucket and put it in the water, it gone in a second. There are few materials needed to tie this fly, and it is quite easy to tie.
On this day I found willing brook trout. "pinkie" requires little finesse in presentation.
This my friends is a perfect winter stream brookie lie. You have a gentle seam, with moving water. The shallow depth also allows for some warming of the water. There is a undercut bank close with deeper water....and it will give up a strike and a trout 88.7% of the time it's fished.
This brook trout was taken in that spot above. A pretty good sized fish for such a place. Winter requires different tactics, and those tactics change almost daily with exception. Fish "pinkie"...