Saturday, August 1, 2015

Engage

The fun and challenge of fly fishing for me is the observing and adapting to whatever is happening at the moment.  This requires you to be alert and engaged, thinking through what you are observing and processing it through your past experience and knowledge.  I was reminded of this just yesterday.

I was nymphing an area that I can usually find a few fish and came up blank which was a little puzzling.  As I was heading back to the car and about to cross a small shallow run when I stopped for a moment.  Here a small volume of water passes quickly along a grassy bank before rejoining the rest of the river.  About a foot off the edge of the bank I noticed a small channel roughly 18" deep.  Most of the year there is a strong flow of water along the bank such that you would not expect fish to hold there and I often cross it without much thought. However the water level was a bit down and I noticed the reduced flow. Knowing that in the summer months fish tend to work up into the faster pockets close to banks where an ant or beetle might fall into the water, I wondered if a fish might be holding there. 



This would have been an ideal situation to fish a dry dropper rig with a small nymph trailing a stimulator but I had left my dry fly rod in the car.  The double nymph rig I was using was too heavy to fish this shallow channel without getting constantly hung up on the bottom so I clipped the anchor fly off and left the 18" of fluorocarbon hanging behind the pheasant tail dropper.  After a couple drifts close to the bank, I connected with a brown that used the strong current to his advantage and eventually the hook lost hold.  Nevertheless, I was pleased to have worked through the situation mentally and connected with a fish.  I worked the nymph again further up the run and connected with another brown, this one was larger and stronger.  Not wanting to repeat my mistake of being out of position to effectively land the fish, I jumped off the bank and into the water to try and maneuver the fish into a more favorable spot to land it.  After a couple runs it decided to head downstream over some shallow riffles and rocks into the pool below.  I just followed as I knew that if I could stay connected I had a better chance of landing it in the pool below.

A brown that was holding in less that 2 feet of water
I jumped around to a few more spots with nothing to show for my efforts but decided to end the afternoon fishing some shallow runs close to the banks and found another brown that took the pheasant tail dropper fished behind an olive stimulator.  Not a productive day in terms of numbers but satisfying and a good reminder to stay alert and engaged.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Small stream browns

This evening after work I thought I would go looking for some small stream brown trout.  It's been hot and dry here in southern New England. The stream was low but cool.    On the first cast into the head of a decent pool I was able to connect with a hefty wild brown that put up quite a battle.  A couple more wild browns attacked the Ausable bomber and one brook trout.



Small stream brown

Sunset in the forest
Black-eyed Susan

Purple Coneflower


Sunday, July 19, 2015

A cold tailwater on a hot day

Even though the day was a warm one in the middle of July, but here in CT we are fortunate to have a cold tail water fishery close to home.  I spent the afternoon nymphing an off-the-beaten-path location. Among the handful of browns and a rainbow was a handsome stream born brown.  Caddis pupa was the fly of choice. 



A stream born brown

A hefty rainbow in the mix
Late afternoon, I decided to try and find a place where there might be some fish taking dries.  After checking out a couple potential spots, I settled in for the evening.  Early in the evening there were fish taking small sulfur emergers.  I caught a mix of browns and another rainbow on the #18 sulfur comparadun but there were a number of refusals leading me to think that the fish were actually taking something smaller.

After some early evening action, everything got quite with only an occasional rise here and there.  As soon as darkness started to settle in things picked up significantly.  In the remaining light I was able to take a couple fish on a #20 rusty spinnner.  The fish continued to take spinners well into the darkness.  At this point I could barely see so I was fishing slightly downstream trying to feel the takes before a nice fish broke off the 5x and I called it a night.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Adirondack Sampler

During a week in the Adirondacks, I was able to explore three diverse streams and enjoy a hike up Snowy Mountain with the family.  The three streams differed in their tannin levels, gradient and geology. Many may not realize the Adirondack hemlocks were sought out, felled and stripped of their bark to supply the local tanneries.  Streams that traverse these hemlock stands often are dark and stained.

A rain swollen stream

The first stream explored has crystal clear water and runs over the reddish rock of the Canadian Shield.  The day I visited the stream was quite high from several days of rain.  This meant that much of the stream would not be accessible since the high flow precluded hoping from boulder to boulder to fish both sides.  With a little work, I was able to find some areas that were fish-able and where brook trout were willing to come up and chase a Royal Wulff.  Several times I could see the back and orange flanks of a brook trout rise up out of the turbulent water.  One fish was particular entertaining to watch come up clear out of the water jumping over the Royal Wulff without connecting.  After sevearal attempts to hook the fish, I switched to a yellow neversink caddis since I had noticed a few small yellow stoneflies in the air and this fly the fish took with abandon.

White Campanion blooming along the banks

This fish came back for the yellow neversink caddis

The next day was clear and cool, a perfect day for hiking!  The family decided that we would climb Snowy mountain which is an 8 mile loop with about a 2000 vertical ascent.  It was a gorgeous day for a hike and the views from the fire tower were certainly worth the effort.  With all the recent rain the trail was more like a small river with water running everywhere and several challenging stream crossings.  

The amazing view north toward the High Peaks from Snowy mountain

The following day I met Todd to fish the high gradient tannin stained stream in the previous post. The reader may be interested in comparing the distinct coloration of the brook trout from each of these streams.

The second stream visited was a moderate gradient stream. This stream was also a lot higher then I usually see it and it was a pleasure fish it with such a good current. I've seen caddis on this stream many times before so I fished an brown elk hair caddis with good results rather than my usual Royal Wulff.  Several brook trout were brought to hand from the likely places indicating that the stream has wintered well.


A favorite spot I never pass by without running a fly under the tree



My final outing was a revisit to the first stream several days after the rains.  The flows were more moderate and I was able to navigate the rocks to fish more of the stream.  I started out with the Royal Wulff but after watching a couple fish look over the fly and return to the bottom, I switched to an Ausable Bomber, reasoning that a more naturally colored fly would do better under these conditions. The Ausable Bomber brought several nicely colored brook trout to the surface and then to my hands to be photographed and returned to the water.

Crystal clear water running over the ledges typical of the Canadian Shield

Notice the lighter coloring on these fish 

This day the Ausable Bomber was the ticket

Monday, July 6, 2015

Two CT fly fisherman team up in search of Adirondack Brook Trout

Lots of water coming down out of the mountains
Friday afternoon Todd and I finally met up to fish an Adirondack brook together.  We have both fished this particular brook and exchanged information over the past couple years but we have not been able to find a time we could both fish together.

The hike in was pleasant and a great time to catch up and exchange some information.  My first look at the brook was encouraging.  My exploring earlier in the week had indicated that the area streams were very high from all the recent rain the Adirondacks have had so far this summer   After dropping in off the trail, the first pool we came to was a lot higher than I have ever seen it, meaning we would have to adapt our approach.

One of my favorite slides
 There was a rush of water coming down my favorite slide that pretty much blew out the entire pool.  After trying some of the soft spots as well the next pool up, we decided that we should move downstream and probe the edges.  Todd worked one side and I the other.

One of the dark brook trout that inhabit these tannin stained waters

Todd working the opposite bank

We were both able to coax some brook trout to take a Royal Wulff even in the high, tannin stained water as we quickly moved along the edges of the brook, attempting to cover lots of ground.  As our time was running out, I wanted to hit particular pool before calling it quits, since it has given up some decent fish over the years.  I pointed the spot out to Todd and after patiently working over a couple likely areas he eventually had a nice bend in his rod and I knew that he had decent fish on.  After a final picture we ended our afternoon together on a high note and hiked back to the car.

The best fish of the day!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Farmington Friday revisted

Daisy Fleabane

This past Friday afternoon I revisited the Farmington.  The plan was basically the same as the previous Friday, nymphing during the afternoon and early evening and then find a riffle to wait out a sulfur hatch.  The afternoon was a mix of sun and clouds with the occasional passing shower.  There are lots of wildflowers in bloom along the river now.

I fished a half dozen locations during the day and late afternoon. Nymphing was productive after experimenting a bit with flies since my l go-to pattern this time of year (bead head pheasant tail soft hackle) was largely ignored. By varying the color and size I was able find that a combination of #12 super simple (gray); super simple #18 (brown), and a #14 green bead head caddis pupa worked in each location. I focused on the speedier runs and pocket water since these are where I find fishing weighted nymphs more fun and productive.

 a late afternoon brown

As evening approached, I started to look for a place to set up for the sulfur hatch.  There were a lot of fisherman out and I had to go deep into my mental checklist before I was able to find a spot.  The hatch was light where I settled but I did manage to bring three decent browns to the net on a sulfur parachute. The rises became infrequent a little before dark so I walked back to the car and call it an evening when I stumbled onto a spinner fall.  There were several subtle, consistent rises just a few feet from where I was standing.  I could see that although the rises were little more than a dimple, there were decent size fish coming up so I drifted the parachute among the rises and picked up another three before I lost the parachute in the trees behind me.  Since was too dark to tie another fly on, I finished the walk back to the car.   All in all another wonderful summer Friday afternoon on the Farmington.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Farmington Friday

Ragged Robin still in bloom along the river
Yesterday afternoon I met with Pete (aka TROUTI) and we fished a couple spots on the Farmington.

When I met Pete he had already taken a handful of fish on a streamer but the afternoon was young.  I nymphed the faster water where I have found fish before and blanked, which really surprised me until Pete took me to school and nymphed the same run only closer to shore and picked up two.  I went back, put a heavier, brighter anchor fly on and worked the pocket water close to shore and brought three nice browns to hand, missed two and the hook pulled out on a third missle that took off for the opposite shore before I could turn it.  Lesson Learned :  after rain check the runs close to shore!

A pocket water brown

We moved to a location close by and Pete took a number of fish in a nice long run while I fished some rapids below him.  On the first cast, I had a brown come off the bottom to tear my bead head pheasant tail dropper right off the rig.  I never had a chance.  I picked up a nice little wild brown in another pocket and then headed up to see how Pete was doing.  The sulfurs were starting to come off and he had seen some fish taking them off the surface.  I waded out and tossed a sulfur parachute and picked off two before Pete headed home and I headed to another spot I wanted to check out.

The third spot has some nice pocket water that fished very well last year during the sulfur hatch. When I arrived everything was quite and no one was around including the fish.  So I moved to where I thought I might find some early evening risers and planed to stick it out until dark to see if the sulfurs starting coming off.

An early evening riser that took the small Adams

A couple guys fishing the water I was interested in so, I worked below them and figured they might not stick around too late.  I managed one brown on a sulfur parachute and worked up to my spot when one of the anglers left.  I found a rock to stand on and to get out of the frigid waist deep water and watch for rising fish.  The sulfurs never did make an appearance but there were a few fish sipping either small olive emergers or spinners.  I managed to pick off one with a #22 Adams parachute. There were a few fish steadily taking something small in the film just beyond my reach.  I thought they might be taking spinners but I didn't have any small rusty spinners in my box so I put on a #22 olive parachute and worked hard to get the fly over where the fish were working.  I managed to lay out a nice cast and get a decent drift and picked off a decent brown to finish off the evening.  At this point I was freezing from being in the cold water and I could barely feel my feet.  Even though darkness was about 30 minutes away, I really needed to warm up.   Who would believe I was driving home on a June night with the heat cranking, sipping some hot coffee!