Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fishing with friends?

After a line of thunderstorms worked through our area, I headed out to fish a small stream. I met a blue heron as I walked along the stream.  When I would approach the stream, it would move off and I would find it in the next area upstream.  I guess it has fished this stream before because it seemed to stop at all my usual spots! 

I suspect the fish were on alert from it's presence since it wasn't until I moved upstream ahead of it before I started finding fish.  I ended up fishing a foam ant and a mini muddler since the brook was up and a bit off-color from the recent showers.

Now that everything is growing, the small streams are getting less open.  If you want to fish these tiny waterways, you are going to have to figure out a way to get a fly into tight spaces like the one to the right.  But if you can get a fly to drift in the right channel you will often be rewarded.

The rewards

Monday, May 22, 2017

Small streams and Sunday afternoons

I love fishing a small stream on a Sunday afternoon.  I just enjoy the time to reflect after church on a Sunday morning.

I fished a few of my usual dries but they did not bringing up the brook trout I knew where there which left me a little puzzled.  I ended up putting on an ant and that changed things.  It seems a little early for ants but that what the fish were interested in this afternoon.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Making the best of a poor decision

As someone who works full time, deciding to spend a vacation day to fish involves some calculation. It can be a bit of a juggle between work calendars, necessary meetings, weather, and conditions.  We are all thankful for the rain we've been receiving this spring.  It has brought a number of small brooks back to life after a summer and fall of drought but it has presented some challenges for me in terms of timing fishing breaks.  When I have an opening afternoon on my work calendar it's been either raining or recently rained and everything is high.

Fishing under the watchful eye of Mama
Each year I like to fish a couple days of the Hendrickson hatch on the Farmington river. This year has been a bit strange.  We had a couple warm days a few weeks back that got the hatch going but cold, wet weather stalled it. I didn't get a chance to get out when it was just getting going and so with a warm day in the forecast, I decided fish yesterday afternoon. The only problem was the river was running much higher than I usually fish.  I should have known that the higher flow would make fishing most of the areas I know tough but I went anyway.  I thought a couple of spots would have water calm enough for fish to rise if a decent hatch took place but when I waded across the river at the first stop, I had serious reservations about the probably of success.  I needed a backup plan.  I stuck it out in the first spot until it was obvious that 1) the hatch was over in this area and 2) the small caddis that were all over the water would not draw any interest from fish in the heavy current.

I thought about potential small stream options and other locations but that would involve more driving so I opted to try and make the best of it under the conditions and focus on areas along the edges and inside bends where there might be some softer water out of the main current that fish could hold.  

My next stop looked like a good choice considering the river level.  As I got into the water, I noticed a pair of canadian geese in the brush along the riverbank about 10ft directly behind me.  As I watched them, I could see some young so I kept a close eye behind me.  This spot was just what I needed to get a couple fish in the net which included a couple of  survivor strain browns stocked into the river this spring and a very healthy rainbow.  The state of CT marks the fish with an elastomer that indicates when the fish was stocked.  The largest was an 18" female that was stocked this past spring.  As I got ready to move on, I must have gotten a little too close to one of the geese judging by all the hissing it was doing at me.  Encouraged by a little success I went looking for more suitable water.

A big survivor strain brown with a clipped adipose fin

Left eye/Red - a 2 year old stocked in 2017

At my third stop I found another rainbow, again on a soft inside seam. Talking to a couple other fly fisherman, I realized that trying to figure out where a spinner fall might take place with soft water where fish would rise was going to be difficult with the limited information I had so I opted to try one final spot before heading home.

At another inside bend I picked up another two very healthy rainbows that put up strong battles in the heavy current.  Heading home I realized the warm sun and wading in the heavy current had left me pretty tired but satisfied that despite a questionable decision to fish in the high water, I had still managed to bring to the net my biggest fish of the season so far.

The last rainbow of the day

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rainy days and wildflowers

The woodlands in New England are showing a lot of green
After a weekend of steady rain, the rivers across CT were pretty high.  By Sunday afternoon the skies were starting to clear and I wanted to check out a small stream I haven't visited this spring yet.  I knew the brook would high but it usual stays clear so I thought it was worth the trip.  When I arrived it was running higher than I've seen before and even a little off color which surprised me.

Fringed polygala (gaywings)

The wildflowers were doing quite well and the woodland floor was covered in violets, dwarf ginseng, a few remaining wake robins (red trilium), and fringed polygala which are always interesting to find.

I tried a big dry fly with a bead head nymph trailed off the back but it was clear the current was sweeping the dry too quickly through the seams for the nymph to be very effective so I pulled out my  Ausable Ugly.

Red trillium or Wake Robin
I fish this fly when I need to get down quick and stay there and have found it to be effective in situations like this.  I fished it like a weighted streamer through the softer seams and got quite a few bumps and taps and a decent number of brief hooks with a few fish to hand.  The heavier current probably made it difficult for the brook trout to chase down the fly and solidly take it.

As the afternoon sun began to break through the clouds and warm things up a bit, there were lots of insects hovering over the water.  Watching carefully in the tiny little slicks behind a rock or log, you could see small brook trout rising to the surface.  I even managed to coax a few to take an Ausable bomber.  Here's a link to a video I took of a small brook trout hammering the bomber that posted over on the FishingSmallStreams facebook page

spots like this had rising brook trout between the bubble lines

Violets growing in a spring seep

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Rainbows, rainbows and more rainbows

It been pretty rainy and cold over the last couple weeks.  We are all thankful to see the rivers and streams up at the normal spring levels.

I was looking forward to getting back on the Farmington River but the flows were higher than I felt comfortable fishing so I was looking for other options.  My neighbor Mike suggested a nearby river.  We met up a little before noon and Mike showed me a section of river with lots of nice looking pocket water.

The water looked well suited to tight line nymphing so I set up the long rod and we started exploring.  After getting some of the rust off my nymphing technique it wasn't long before the first rainbow was in the net.  It was good to be out in the fresh air and feel a nice bend in the rod.  After working through a nice run and landing a handful of fish, I encouraged Mike to try my set up.  It wasn't long before he was into a couple fish and liking the feel of my tight line rig.  We set up another leader for his rod and put on a couple weighted flies and between the two of us we were catching fish the rest of the afternoon.  I don't know how many fish we caught between the two of us but we had pretty steady action all afternoon.

Most of the fish were rainbows in the 14-16'' range but there were a couple of nice browns mixed in. We had a great afternoon and it was fun to show Mike an effective nymphing style.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Awake, O Wintry Earth!

The trees are starting flower and the young tender leaves are starting to appear

Wood anemone
Awake, O wintry earth
Fling off your frozen sadness,
With sweetness, flowers bring mirth,
bright springtime's ancient gladness.
Once more, we sing the tale
through darkness sunlight spread,
To warm the winter's pale, 
and tell that Death is dead

(JS Bach Canata 129)

Dwarf Ginseng

Bach's words seem to describe so well the new life that spring brings.  It seems like just a few weeks ago I was looking for the first trout lilies of the year and then all of sudden they were everywhere.  This week, my wife and I were walking and we saw the first wake robins of the year (red trillium).

After work on friday, I spent a couple hours along a small woodland stream.  The warm air had the bugs awakening from the long winter and the brook trout could be seen eagerly rising on several occasions in the tails of small pools along the stream.

A single dry fly was all that was needed to coax the local residents to the fly.  Now that the warmer weather is here the larger brook trout and taking an interest in the dry fly.  The forest floor was coming alive with wood anemone, dwarf ginseng, and fiddle head ferns and new life is beginning.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A spring morning in PA

Greater celandine was everywhere as the early morning sun began to filter through the sycamore undergrowth that was just awakening with those early spring green buds in central PA.  We had a few hours to spare before we needed to get back in the car and start working our way to our next destination but what a beautiful few hours it was.  I choose a nice looking run and started to drift a pair of weighed nymphs through the chalky slightly off-color water.

Three caddis cases on one drift!
On almost every drift, the point fly managed to spear a few empty caddis cases.  I took the hint and switched up the flies to a slightly heavier point fly to keep the flies moving more slowly along the bottom and a caddis larva as a dropper.  The caddis larva was surprisingly ignored except for some small fall fish and some stocky cubs but when I switched to a beaded pheasant tail soft hackle the trout were more interested.  I didn't catch any wild fish this morning but a handful of rainbows and browns made for a fun couple of hours.

one of a handful of bows and browns that took a frenchie or the beaded pheasant tail

celandine was everywhere