Monday, February 1, 2016

Is it spring already?

It has certainly been an unusual winter season around here.  This past December felt more like a typical November, then January brought a cold streak and some snow and lately we're back in a warming trend.  Even the birds are confused this year.  This week I saw a robin hanging around the yard and was wondering if it had come back early or never left!  

As I left church in the early afternoon I could feel the warm sun and the air just smelled like spring.   The remaining afternoon offered a short window of daylight so off I went for a walk in the woods with a camera, a fly rod, and a small box of flies in my pocket.  As it turned out I only needed one.

In the sun, the air was warm but in the shadow of the hills there was a chill in the air perhaps from the wind passing over the little remaining snow in the woods.  Even though there were still a couple hours before sunset the angle of the sun at this time of year put me in the cool shadows most of the afternoon.  Today I wanted to fish a dry and I was convinced that during the heat of the day small stoneflies would have been out in abundance, so I committed to a small, dark elk hair caddis and stuck with it.

The first brook trout of the afternoon
The melting snow from a week of warmer weather had the brook running at a modestly healthy level.  It was pleasant music to the ears but still quite cold in spite of the warm air.  I was pleased to find a small brook trout willing to rise to the caddis in the first likely holding spot and confirmed that my desire to fish only a dry was not complete lunacy.  

Places like this usually held a trout willing to rise to a small fly

In tiny pockets of calm off a rock or a piece of dead-fall the small dry would bring a fish up to the surface to either inspect the fly and return or to take advantage of a potential meal.  It was good to be outside again enjoying a brief respite from winter.  We will see what the rest of winter brings

A wonderfully colored brook trout

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Small stream flies - the fantastic four

With the latest Nor'easter covering most of the east coast it was a good day to do a little tying.  Today I was restocking the small stream box.  When it comes right down to it, I love fishing dries on small streams.  I fish nymphs and soft hackles but I just like fishing dries even when conditions dictate that there would be a better choice.  I am also a minimalist so I don't carry more than is needed and it when it comes to small stream dries, there are basically 4 flies that account for most of the wild brook and brown trout that I catch.  So here they are...

The Fantastic Four
Royal Wulff:  I tie this with woodchuck guard hairs for the tail and use a Mustad 9671 hook.  I like the longer hook since it gives extra room for a nice body and plenty of hackle to keep it afloat.  I will fish this fly in the spring through fall but I've caught fish through out the year on this fly.

Ausable Bomber:  This is another small stream fly that I wouldn't be without.  It's a Fran Better's fly but for some reason it's not that well known.  It uses the 9671 hook, a white calf tail wing, woodchuck guard hairs for a tail and brown and grizzly hackle palmered over a body of rusty orange possum dubbing.  I have no idea what fish think it is but it works any time of year.  I fish this one in #14 and #16 in the colder months.  With the woodchuck and heavy hackle this fly floats well and is an excellent dry for a dry dropper rig.

Elk hair caddis: There is nothing special about this fly.  I don't fish it as much as the other three but in the winter months when small stoneflies are coming off I will fish a #16 or #18 with dark brown body

Parachute Adams: I like tying these with a woodchuck tail and muskrat dubbing.  I fish this fly in #16 and #18 in the colder months.  If the larger Wulffs and Bombers don't draw any interest I will put one of these on.  I tend to fish these more in the later fall and winter when small flies are a better choice.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

January ice and the dry fly

I took a quick walk along a small stream this afternoon.  There was lots of ice along the edges from the cold snap we had earlier in the week making for lots of interesting cover for the fish.

I ended up fishing a small elk hair caddis after seeing a number of stone flies in the air and a few rising fish here and there.  For the most part the fish were tucked under the ice shelves but were eager to ambush the dry as it passed by.

I just love that red adipose fin!
Spots like this usually held a fish willing to ambush the dry

Friday, January 1, 2016

Starting off 2016

A small stream visited on the first day of the new year
It was another gray winter day to welcome the New Year but without the threat of frozen guides and a biting wind that opened 2015.

As in year's past , the usual suspects gathered at a small stream of Alan and Kirk's choosing. This year Alan, Kirk, Pete, John and myself were joined by Rowan to continue a First Day tradition that goes back quite a few years.

The stream was quite full and I quickly realized that my dry/dropper rig that worked so well a couple days previous needed to be modified so I switched to pink San Juan worm.

After the switch, I worked a very nice looking seam that offered up the first brook trout of 2016.

Late in the morning a bunch of us were chatting when Rowan noticed a fish rising in a back eddy. He tried several approaches but was not able to find a way to get a fly in front of the fish.  It's challenges like these that make fishing small streams with tight bank side cover so much fun.  As I was watching him, I noticed another fish rising 3-4 inches off the bank under a pine tree just down stream of me. Whatever it was rising to, it was small so I put on a small parachute Adams thinking it might be taking midges in the surface film.  After surveying the problem for a little, I thought it might be possible to cast the Adams to the opposite bank and let the current carry the fly under the pine branches that were just a couple feet above the stream and up against the bank where the fish was working.  A slight tug provide enough slack to give a decent drift as the fly passed under the pine branches and up against the bank and another slight retrieve positioned the fly in front of the fish and brought a quick response.  After a brief tussle the first brook trout of the year on dry fly was in my hands and quickly on his way home a little wiser for the experience.

We met up back where we had parked the cars and began heating up lunch.  Alan had a charcoal grill going on which he boiled some homemade hot dogs and a stove with some homemade baked beans that really hit the spot while I was heating up my first attempt at homemade chicken soup.  Some wonderful  warm food and plenty of fish stories finished off the day before I needed to head home. I am certain the rest of the crew were able to find a few more fish in the afternoon.

Alan working on heating up the hot dogs while John and Rowan look on.  In the foreground
my 35 year old Peak One is working on getting the chicken soup hot (love that stove!)
Wishing all of you the best in 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Closing out 2015

Yesterday winter finally arrived in southern New England with a light snow fall.  So it was only fitting that I close out 2015 with a quick trip to a small woodland stream on a damp, grey day with the new fallen snow still clinging to the ground.

I was wondering if the new snow would be cooling things down as it melted so I decided to fish a dry dropper rig today and let the fish tell me were they were looking.  The small Ausable bomber did get some attention from the smaller brook trout but the larger fish took the partridge and flash dropper today.  No surprise there!

A surprise rainbow and a handful of brook trout made for a pleasant closing of 2015.  Wishing all of you a happy New Year!

The first surprise of the day
And a handful of these little gems 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

Thanks to all of you who check in here at Fishing Small Streams.  Merry Christmas to you and God's richest blessings to you and your families in 2016

...Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Silence

I was up and out early this warm December day visiting a favorite small stream.  With all rhetoric going on about guns and terrorists, sometimes the soul needs silence to anchor it to the quiet confidence of timeless unchanging truth.

A little rain had refreshed things a bit, and the woods were quite this morning.  The sun was shining brightly on the water and I could feel the warm deep inside.

This wild brown started the morning off by crushing an Ausable Bomber
This warm December day was devoted to the dry and between an Ausable Bomber and an Elk hair caddis a brace of wild browns and a handful brook trout were photographed and quickly released. The bomber was effective early but the fish seemed more interested in chasing down the #16 tan caddis as the morning progressed.

Simple Beauty