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!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Back in the Adirondacks

Lots of water coming down over the Canadian shield
The morning was a cool and clear and it was good to be back in the Adirondacks mountains again.  Strong thunderstorms the previous night had removed any traces of humidity from the air.  I knew the streams were going to be running strong so I headed toward one that I knew would be clear.

The rocks in this area are classic examples of Canadian shield geology and the stream is normally crystal clear.  As I approached, I could hear that stream long before it was in view and I knew I would have to find some soft pockets out of the thundering current to drift my flies.

Hemlocks and boulders, a classic Adirondack combination
I choose a Royal Wulff dry with a bead head caddis pupa trailed off the back in case the current was too strong for dries to be productive.   The wet rocks made navigating the stream a bit tricky but I was able to stay dry for most of the couple hours I had to explore.  Each fly was equally effective and a handful of handsome Adirondack brook trout were brought to hand.  It was great to fish some classic Adirondack water again after a long winter.

The amazing beautiful fish that call these waters home

Monday, June 8, 2015

The adventures of two small stream fisherman

check out David Knapp's account of the adventures of two small stream fisherman in the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest

the trout zone - exploring-smokies-small-streams-fly-fishing

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Nymphing

Fragrant Dame's Rocket was everywhere
The Farmington River was up and slightly off-color so nymphing was the way to go.  A dozen or so (I quickly lose track) strong browns and rainbows were brought to the net.  Nothing trophy size, but nothing less that 14 inches either.  Fish were taken on #10 Rock Candy, #12 super simple, but the bead head pheasant tail with a couple turns of partridge accounted for most of the fish.  It was nice to be out fishing close to home again!


First fish of the day on the very first cast

Some of the hefty browns the Farmington is known for
Ragged Robin

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Great Smoky Mountians

After a couple hours in White Oak Canyon in the Shenandoahs, I headed toward the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Cosby Campground.  I arrived at the campground with just enough time to set up camp and making some dinner before dark.  Plans had been made to meet David Knapp of The Trout Zone the following morning and fish together for the day.

After a quiet night at the campground, David and I met and discussed a plan for the day.  David had wanted to explore some water he had not fished yet and that was fine by me.  He drove us to the trail head and we had some great conversation getting to know each other.  One of the really fun things about this trip was meeting people who also share a love for fishing small streams.

We hiked along the trail passing a settler's cabin built around 1889.  After a what seemed like a quick hike, the trail headed along a ridge of Pine, White Oak and Rhododendron where we could hear the rush of water. We looked for a deer trail that we could drop down through the forest.  As we crossed the forest, David thought he spotted some wild boar sign and he explained how they were originally introduced into the Smokies.


An settlers cabin

David recommended that I bring my 8'6'" 4wt.  I usually fish a much shorter rod on small streams in New England and I was wondering if the longer rod was going to be cumbersome in the tight under growth.  When we we arrived at the stream, I could see why he recommended the longer stick. Onstream the forest was relatively open and the longer rod was an advantage in reaching all the water in the larger plunge pools without spooking the fish.  It was also clear that  wet wading was going to be the only effective way of navigating this tumbling mountain stream as the surrounding forest was thick with Rhododendron and nearly impassible.  I swapped my usual hiking boots for some Korker boxcars with felt soles that I had in my pack and I was back in business.  The stream was a stunning example of a high gradient Smoky Mountain stream with huge moss covered boulders full of plunges and large pools.  We had no trouble finding gorgeous brook trout from mid pool to the tail out but these fish were lighting quick to take and release the fly.  I had countless number of brief hookups and a fair number of fish brought to hand.  All the fish were caught on the same nondescript bead head green caddis pupa that had worked so well in the Shenandoahs.

A beautiful Smoky Mountain brook trout, photo courtesy of David Knapp
Notice the size of the old tree on the left, about 4ft in diameter

Fishing under the Rhododedron

Me fishing a nice little riffle; Photo courtesy of David Knapp

A typical Smokey Plunge/Pool; photo courtesy of David Knapp

David keeping a low profile

David with another Smokey "speck"

I could have fished that stream all day but David wanted to give me a taste of some larger water in the area so we hiked out of the ravine and back onto the trail and back to the car.  David drove to another location across a small gravel road that followed the twisting and curving contour of the mountains.  It was an amazing ride and I am only sorry that I didn't take any pictures of this mountain road.  Driving this road you need to be alert because one misstep would send you and your vehicle down the steep mountain in a hurry.  I can only imagine trying to traverse that road in bad weather!

Some larger water

A feisty wild rainbow
 The second river we fished had lots of inviting pocket water.  I fished an Ausable Bomber just for fun with the green caddis pupa trailed off the back.  I had one anxious rainbow attack the bomber but the rest of the rainbows were only interested in the caddis pupa.  David managed to fool a mix of wild browns and rainbows.

Photo courtesy of David Knapp

Photo courtesy of David Knapp 

We finished the day fishing some water close to the campground that held some very feisty wild rainbows as well.  After a long day, David and I said our goodbyes and I headed back to camp to make some dinner.

The water around camp

One strong little rainbow to end the day

After diner I introduced myself to another camper who had a TU sticker on the back of his car.  We had some great conversation around his campfire (thanks for the invitation, Matt!).  He also was in the park to fish.  I gave him a few "northern" flies and one of my small stream braided leaders since his were too long for the rod he was using.  The next morning we fished the water around camp for a couple hours before I had to say goodbye and head on to Memphis to meet the rest of the family for graduation.

The last rainbow of a wonderful trip

This was an amazing trip and was better than I could have imagined.  I don't know if I will have this opportunity again to camp and fish in southern Appalachia but I was very thankful for the opportunity to explore more of God's wonderfully diverse creation and meet some great people.  I am especially thankful for safe driving from CT to Memphis by myself.  I did see a fair number of wrecks along the way and an intense truck fire, I sure pray there were no serious injuries.