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.

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