Sunday, November 29, 2020

A Tradition and A Traditional Fly

Each year on the day after Thanksgiving Jeanette and I have taken to the woods to do a little tree decorating. We don't use traditional  ornaments but in place of those we use many forms of food that treat the local wildlife. The assortment includes apples, crackers, peanuts, popcorn, mixed nuts, dried fruits and dry cereal. The food is scattered about the tree, most of it falls to the ground but that's OK. We have enjoyed this tradition for years. We pick a different tree each year and have enjoyed seeing how big the trees have grown over the years.

We hope to do this for many years to come.

A traditional North Country Fly...The Partridge and Blue. The fly came from Robert Smith's book the "The North Country Fly"...the recipe for the fly is..Blue silk thread for the body, it is then dubbed lightly with natural mole fur. The hackle is a gray partridge feather.

The fly really fishes well and a story about it will follow soon.


Friday, November 27, 2020

A better name....

Invasive...hear me out. A brown trout is happily swimming in a lake in Germany. A group of men come along and sweep him up in a net. He is then transported to a facility where he is introduced to a bunch of eggs and he is stripped of his milt and that is applied to those eggs. It all sounds familiar. Now take those eggs and transport them to the US and fertilize them hatch them and place the fish into a river in Michigan. Fifty years later you have developed a fishery that is second to none. A trout that is sought after for it's many excellent qualities such as size, strength, willing to take a properly presented fly, not a stupid fish but one who is cunning. All of this in a trout that has been with us for over a century. Here's the kicker...he is called invasive, he invaded the US, not the folks from Germany or the US but the brown trout, he is the invader. He did it all by himself.

I for one hold this trout dear to me. I have found him in some of the most pristine waters. I have also found him in some of the most degraded waters. I have taken him from the deep lakes and the tiny trickles I fish. His beauty is not to be second to any other creature.




So perhaps we could come up for a better title then "invasive".....


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

It has been a tough year, but I'm certain we all have something to be thankful for.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving ..

Monday, November 23, 2020

Easy times and fighting oaks....

Down this gentle slope in an area of little hassles lies a stream that has similar attributes. Along the banks there is almost a feeling of being on the 50 yard line in a football stadium. There are the usual blow downs and a briar or two but nothing like most streams I fish. Note to "me" why don't you fish it more often? Well I really don't know why but maybe that will change. The day was chilly with clouds and sun. A breeze at times made it feel colder. I find that being in my seventies chilly takes on a whole different meaning.



For a small stream this one has a lot of nice deep pools. And in these pools were many brook trout. They were  willing and the hookup ratio was great. There was also a good mix of smaller trout which is good for the future of the fishery.

Most of the brookies were like this. In good shape and prepared for the not so hospitable winter about to come.

A Futsu Kebari, I hope that's the name. I tie this fly in many colors and hackle variations and they all work well. This day the purple bodied one or perhaps "eggplant" bodied one got it done.

My, My..look how open. Even the boulders did not present a problem.


Remnants from the fall drop. Many of these oak leaves were taken that day. Water logged they fell like a brookie.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Soft hackle feathers ...Waterhen Bloa Variant

This is another post on various feathers used in tying North Country spiders and Soft Hackle flies. The feathers above are, top and bottom left California Quail and the tow on the right are hen feathers dyed light and dark dun. The two types of feathers are very good substitutes for the feathers from the waterhen. Waterhen is a difficult feather to obtain. And the price is somewhat high. The California Quail feathers were given to me and the hen feathers can be found in most fly shops and they are a bargain.

Below I have tied a progression showing the tying in of the California Quail hackle in the creation of the Waterhen Bloa, a North Country spider with a well known history.



The feather is prepared as such. The fibers are stroked away from the tip. The tip is then clipped to just a small wedge which is used to help anchor the hackle to the hook.

Here you can see how the hackle is tied in.

Here the hackle is being wrapped. This is where you need to take your time. Wrap three turns of hackle making sure each turn is in front of the previous one, this will prevent the hackle fibers from being trapped. When your done with the wraps then whip finish and the fly is complete.

The Waterhen Bloa variant.

The body is primrose silk thread loosely dubbed with natural mole fur. The hackle is a California Quail.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

Frost on the pumpkin. And a buddy....

Good morning good people. This morning as I lifted the shade in the living room I saw another first of the season. There it was ice on the pond. I'm not certain but this maybe the earliest this had taken place in the twenty plus years we have lived here. I have plans of fishing today but I'll probably wait until the sun warms it up a bit.

I know my posts have a great deal of trout related stuff. Small Stream Reflections was started because of my love for all  things small streams. But there are other fish that live in small streams that I seek at times. Some of the fish live close with trout, and some don't. Some of these will at times dominate what I catch that day even though I had not planned it that way. There are times when I intend to catch one of non trout buddies, and sometimes that works out.

In the pool below you can see a perfect place to find a trout. There are also places in that pool that hold another favorite of mine.


The "redfin pickerel"...calls small streams home. This fish is one of my favorites. Many times I see him laying in the soft area of trout streams. He is extremely cautious and will dart away at record speed and totally vanish. He will take flies and will battle the hell out of you when caught. He does not get much bigger then the one pictured. A native fish he call's the same stream as brook trout home.

Good bread, good sauce and good sausage.....let's eat.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I got him, what happened?

The last few weeks have been somewhat frustrating for me. I have at times attempted to remedy that but it's still hanging on. I'll try to explain. It can be said that in order to catch fish you must have your fly in the water. With this I can assure you I have been doing that. Now for the frustrating part. I can't seem to hold onto a fish after it's been hooked. Whether I loose it at  a distance or at hand this seems to have been an issue. Now the problem is with me I will work it out I'm sure.

This stream I fished was in prime shape. I settled in on fishing the upper reaches manly because of it's more open banks. The boulders present a problem but I take my time in negotionating  them. Side note here...which is slicker, snow or wet oak leaves?.....In the short run seen here I hooked two nice browns and lost them both at hand.


In this run/pool I hooked a good sized brown that took me into a snag. I worked at releasing him only to loose him soon after.

This wee brown was the one that didn't get away. Look how scantly he is hooked.

I know there are a few bigger browns in that stream. Perhaps these big flies will coax one to take.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

A Rangeley Streamer

Streamer fly tyers, especially the featherwing Rangeley style of streamer are pretty creative in their methods as well as  the materials they select to create their streamers. Looking at a poster I have of 120 streamer flies tied by Carrie Stevens I can see a master at the craft of tying streamers. So very creative and such a wide variation in the use of materials and colors. She created many patterns that are just as effective today as they were when they were first tied back in the late 1920's. While not trying to compare my self to Carrie Stevens I will say I do try to use her creative style in the construction of my streamers.  

In the top photo is a wing for the streamer I tied below. I use her method of building the wing. There is a total of four feathers used in one wing. First there is a black feather, followed by a green grizzly feather. Then a shoulder feather of marabou and finally a Jungle Cock feather.



The "Grizzly Marabou" streamer.

It's wing was described above. It also has a green yarn body, a tag and rib of flat gold tinsel. The throat is white hackle with a touch of orange hackle. The streamer is tied on a classic Mike Martinek Rangeley streamer hook.

I have to share this with you. A wild brown I caught. It's colors are striking. Please take note of the red adipose fin as well as the red streaks on the tail.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Short Season

Standing in the stream, looking up and seeing a sight framed by nature like this should put anyone's soul at peace. The location of this barn is in northwest Connecticut. The little stream that flows just below that fallen tree harbors finned beauties just as beautiful as that scene above. Autumn is a short season. It runs from September to late December. My version of Autumn is the month of October. That is when nature puts it "all" together.



Crystal clear waters. The remnants of Octobers beauty lay on the streams bottom in the form of dead leaves. Some of these leaves still hold on to color so as to protect the brook trout who also live along the bottom.

A "tool"'s said that fly rods are mere tools used to achieve an end. Not so. Here is an example of a valuable part of an anglers well being. When one thinks just how much has gone into such a fine piece as this one can only agree it is so much more then a "tool"....

Sweet, tart, spicy and pungent. Along with some hot tea and cold water. It's a simple lunch with a gourmet touch.

"Spider's" lurking..

 The pinnacle of Autumn...


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A Close Encounter.....

Some weeks back while Jeanette and I were wandering the Connecticut countryside we came upon a sight that was one of the most unusual that we have ever witnessed. Bald eagles have made Connecticut home for many years now. I have seen many of them in flight but never have I been up close to one. This eagle was on the ground and it appeared to be injured. It was dragging it's leg and walking with a side to side motion. As I approached, very carefully I might add it stared at me intently. The feeling I got from that stare was one of no fear. It seemed to accept that I was no threat but there was an intense stare of caution in the birds eye and mannerism. Several minutes passed and I was still unable to determine if it was injured. My thoughts at this point were to call DEEP or perhaps the local police who might refer my call to the proper agency. It was at that point that the eagle took flight and landed in a tree just above where I was standing.



It was then that I saw what the eagle was doing. It had made a kill and was attempting to hide it from me. That's why the dragging and covering of it with it's wing.

It remained steady in the tree just observing. It was then that I decided to walk away. I was close my friends and i can tell you that his eyes were focused on me like a laser. This was truly a close encounter....10 yards at most.

 Baked French onion soup. My goodness is there anything simpler or better. Beef broth, cooked onions, the best Worcestershire sauce and mozzarella cheese...careful it's hot...


Sunday, November 8, 2020

The "Little Creek".....

What's going on...This little creek that flows into a small stream has a lot of history with me. I first found out about it when researching the stream which it flows into. The article told me it was part of the protection the small stream had. "All tributaries shall fall under the same rules" that stirred interest into this little creek and i found myself checking it out. I started walking it from it's start to where it enters into the small stream. Parts of it were kind of swampy and others were real gorgeous. It had it's share of pools and riffles with the necessary undercut banks with a fair amount of woody debris to make any wild trout happy. My first attempts at fishing the little creek were less then stellar. More tiny brown trout scattered then caught. But I continued to fish it and over the many years I have come to some conclusions. One of them is that the brown trout in this little creek are for the most part  born, live and die within it's waters.



This is one of the many brown trout I have taken from this little creek over the last 20 years. Most of them look identical both in size and color.

This is a wild brown trout taken from the little creek. It to has the same coloration and spotting as the rest of the brown trout from the creeks waters.

And just last week I tangled with this fellow. Please note the color and spotting of this fish. All of these fish seem to possess the same genetics. Is the creeks waters responsible, or perhaps the same offspring of the original browns that spawned in the little creek many years ago. This is one of those magical things that keep me going back to the "little creek"....


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Soft hackle materials, part three Starling

The Starling, a game bird or not. One thing for certain there are millions of these birds everywhere. The starling is one of my favorite feathers to tie with. A  quality skin can offer you a vast amount of beautiful feathers in which to work with. Many of these feathers have an iridescent sheen to them. Many have multi colored tips on the feather. The starling can be a bit weak when it comes to winding it on the hook but i have not had major problems with this. The main issue is finding a high quality skin. Most are pretty poor and one should not buy one unless you can actually see it. I have some good skins and I cherish them. Starling skins come in colors to. I have skins that are dyed green, and yellow. I also have one that has been "bleached" which creates some very effective flies.

Starling feathers above left a black starling with tips of gold...bottom left a black starling with that remarkable right a feather from a bleached starling again showing that iridescence... bottom right, a bleached starling feather showing a beautiful tawny brown color.



Starling and Purple...the feather is from the top left

Starling and Purple..the feather is from the bottom right. The feather is shorter and is tied on a size 14 hook.

Orange and Starling..tied with the feather from the top left

 Starling and Orange...feather from the bottom left