Monday, September 28, 2015

Fishing ahead of the blood moon

The super moon rise above the tree tops
Yesterday afternoon I headed north to do some early fall fishing and take some pictures of the moon during the lunar eclipse.  Last night was a coincidence of a super moon and a blood moon when the moon comes closest to earth and is eclipsed by its shadow.

I started off nymphing a nice run and took a couple of browns.  These were mostly holder trout that have been the river a while and some were showing some nice color.

After noticing some consistent surface activity in the tail of the pool, I headed downstream to see what was going on.  The subtle rises looked like the sort of rises you see when fish are taking small olive emergers so I tied on a #20 olive parachute and started to target the rises that were somewhat regular.  The fish consistently took the parachute most of the afternoon and the fly I was using seem to get more effective the more worn it became.  At one point the parachute post had taken so much abuse that I needed to change flies.  The new fly wasn’t nearly as convincing but once it had a taken a couple trout it fished well.  I found that fishing it slightly downstream was move effective and a fair number of fish took it on the slow swing at the end of the drift.  Maybe next time I should fish a small olive wet!

One of several colored holdover browns

As evening approached the yellow quills (Leucrocuta hebe) were starting to appear.  I watched carefully as the fish started to clear the surface either chasing rising nypmhs or trying to catch the spinners that were hovering a few inches above the surface.  A #18 olive/yellow parachute took a handful of fish including one that cleared the water and then took the parachute on the way down!  However, I think a small wet fly might have been more effective than fishing dries.  As the light faded the rise forms changed again becoming more subtle and less aggressive which led me to think the fish were taking spinners.  An olive/yellow spinner was pretty much ignored so I switch to a #20 rusty spinner and took the last trout of the evening.  It’s been a while since I’ve experienced several hours of consistent dry fly action and the pleasant weather and surroundings made for a wonderful Sunday afternoon outdoors.

Low clouds passing in front of the moon

As I finished packing up my gear back at the car, I could see the glow of the moon over the surrounding hills so I pulled out my camera and began scouting for a nice location to get some shots of the moon.  It was really amazing the watch the earth’s shadow travel over the face of the moon and then to see the moon turn red as the partial eclipse progressed.

The earths shadow progressing from left to right over the face of the moon

The blood moon

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Mid September afternoon

With the warm, dry weather we've had here in Southern New England, I've kept away from the small streams.   I've been looking back at my log book and remembered the excellent fall fishing last year and hoping that this year is another good year.  With thoughts of fall I headed out for a late afternoon scouting trip to see if things were starting to pick up.

I started out nymphing and found a couple browns and rainbows interested in both large and small pheasant tail variations (12/18).   I continued nymphing until I started to see some isonychia coming off around me.

I did see a couple snouts breaking the surface in some riffles nearby, so I picked up the dry fly rod and managed one brown and missed another nice brown as I caught a glimpse of his golden flank and the hook failed to hold.

There was more activity as the afternoon light faded into darkness but in the failing light I wasn't able to figure out what they fish were rising to.  Even though it's still early to expect the fish to be in full fall mode, it was a pleasant afternoon to be out in the fresh air enjoying a mid September afternoon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The last days of summer

Shorter days, hot, dry, dusty days giving way to golden orange sunsets, astors, golden rod, touches of red and yellow on the mountains, these are the sign posts that summer is coming to an end.

New York Astor
The last days of summer often take small mountain brooks down to their very bones.  Once vibrant streams falling out of the mountains crashing over every rock and boulder in their way are now reduced boulder fields and an endless series of tiny little puddles perfectly reflecting the forest and sky with unbroken calm. 

Somehow  the brook trout find a tiny pocket here or there to survive this yearly cycle.  The fall rains will eventually come, and then the spawn but for now there is the waiting.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What just happened ????

Touch-me-knot, loosestrife, and an unknown white flower

Yesterday I explored some areas on the Farmington for the first time.  I like to say that fishing was great but it really was a rather slow afternoon.  I did manage to find one wild brown sitting just off a shallow bank.

Later in the afternoon I saw some small olives coming off and fooled another two browns on a #20 dark olive parachute and missed another.  One of the fish had scars on it's flank from a fairly sizable set of teeth.

I decided to hang around til dark and see if there would be spinner fall.  There really wasn't much of one but I did manage one decent brown on a small rusty spinner.

A pretty wild brown
I had spotted another fish rising within casting range so I kept casting the spinner over it and eventually got it to take the fly.  It was a respectable sized fish and I got it close to the net but sometimes in the dark it's tough to tell exactly where the fish is and where the head is.  I didn't get the net in the right position and that's when the fun started...All of a sudden my rod tip went down and the fish was pulling hard for the bottom.  The next thing I knew, line was peeling off my reel and the fish headed like a run away train for the opposite bank.  I tried to slow it down and put more drag on the reel but it wasn't stopping.  In desperation, I tried to stop it and gain control before it ran my line around something but the line went slack and I was looking at my small rusty spinner once again.

So help me out here, what do you think happened?  Did the fish I had on go into overdrive?  Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments section!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Up Snowy Mountain

A quick video my daughter put together of our hike up Snowy Mountain in July.  Lots of water in the mountains back then!

Monday, August 10, 2015

August in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks are starting show signs of the coming fall.  That almost imperceptible change in the late afternoon light, the slight tinge of red in the tips of the branches of the sugar maples, the cooler nights and mornings, all point to the changes ahead.  August can also be a dry time in the mountains as well, when the streams that a couple of months ago were loud and boisterous are now quite subdued.  A quick check of the water temperature is must this time of year, since not all mountain streams remain cold during these dry times.

After checking the thermometer, I did fish a bit in the deeper holes and pockets but I was really more surveying than fishing hard.  This is not the time of year to be fishing every little pocket and channel. Fortunately the brook trout seemed to be holding their own,  finding places to hide under the rocks along the banks or in a deep pocket here or there.  Mostly I just watched them attack the Royal Wulff and then quickly return to their hiding places.

A typical summer hiding spot, can you see it?

Saturday, August 1, 2015


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.