Saturday, December 9, 2017

December

Frost in the river grass
The days are certainly getting colder now.  As I write, we are getting our first accumulating snow in CT this season.  I love fishing the colder, gray days of late fall and early winter.  The spring and summer are full of better days for catching fish, but you can't beat the calm and solitude of an early winter day.  But in order to enjoy these days you have to dress with plenty of layers to stay warm.  I enjoy getting a large cup of coffee in the morning and putting 2/3 of it in my thermos to have for breaks when driving between spots.  I can put coffee in my little 16 oz thermos at 7am and it's still very hot at 4pm (I will have to post an equipment review on it)!  A chemical hand warmer in the wader chest pocket keeps the hands warm and with less anglers on the river, I can walk around a lot and cover lots of ground which helps keep the feet warm.

Except for a brief break throwing small flies to fish rising well beyond reach, I fished nymphs.  I didn't catch a lot of fish but the ones I did find were on the larger side.  I started late morning in an area that fishes well for me in late fall.  After working a caddis pupa and an foam egg with a small spit shot in front of the egg without any fish, I switched to a frenchie and a zebra midge and started working back upstream to where I started.  About midway up the run, the sighter stopped and I could feel the heavy but gentle throb of a nice fish holding tight to the bottom.  I stayed patient and remained downstream as the standoff took place in about a foot and a half of water.  It felt like the fish was attached to the bottom with suction cups and when I got my first decent look, I could see it was a large, dark brown. I managed to get it close but made the fatal error of trying to pull it upstream to slide the net under it.  The 5x gave way at the fly and off went a beast of a brown.  I don't honestly know how big it was but it looked like it would have been my best fish of the year.  I continued working my way back and found a decent rainbow so at least I had one in the net.  I changed the rig again and worked my way back down but didn't connect with any fish so I hiked back to the truck for some hot coffee and something to eat.

the consolation prize

I tried a few more spots in the afternoon without any success but I had one last section that I wanted to try before the end of the day.  It was a cloudy day so by late afternoon the light was fading and the air was getting colder.  I managed to cross the river without getting wet and fished an area I had explored for the first time this past summer.  I had a hunch that there might be a fish or two holding in the slower, deeper runs.  As I approached the section I could see clearly the run I had noticed this past summer and it wasn't long before I was tight to another hefty fish that took the anchor fly (frenchie).  This one was a male rainbow that was quite dark and very heavy.  I stayed patient and downstream trying to keep side pressure on the fish.  As with the brown, I was fighting this fish in shallow water that was moving a little more quickly than the softer water were I had hooked it so I needed to be careful to not to let the fish get downstream of me.  With some patience I managed to get the fish in the net.  At that point, I called it a day and made my way back across the river thankful to have spent the day outside finding a couple of quality fish.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thankfullness

The "run" in Boiling Springs PA
As we come away from the Thanksgiving holiday, I was particularly thankful this year that my wife and I could spend the holiday with our two daughters and son-in-law.  We spend much of the year apart, so a few days together was such a blessing. On Sunday afternoon it was time to drive my youngest back to school to finish up the semester.  Before returning home, I spent a couple hours on the Yellow Breeches in PA.  It was a great opportunity to be outside on warm, bright, sunny, November morning. When the weather starts to turn colder and the days grow shorter, the solitude of normally busy streams and rivers can be something very enjoyable, especially one days like these.

A small wild brown
From my experience a week earlier on "the Run", I decided to try my 6’6” fiberglass rod and shorten up my leader.  I started off the morning fishing small eggs to a group of trout holding in the shallow tail out of a gentle riffle.  I don’t often sight fish to trout but in the crystal clear, shallow water I could easily see and observe several trout.  I started off with a small zebra midge and a small foam egg.  As I watched the egg tumbling through the water, occasionally a fish would follow the egg but mostly it was being ignored.  I placed a small spit shot about 10-12 inches above the egg to see if I could keep it closer to the bottom and slow it down.  After making several adjustments to the drift, I managed to pick up the first brown of the morning.  I tried half a dozen small nymphs as a dropper but the trout weren't interested.  After being satisfied that I had worked the riffle thoroughly, I switched colors on the egg and managed one more brown.

I took a little break to talk with another angler who had done very well with scuds in another spot.  After our conversation, I decided to move on to some deeper, faster moving water.  I added another split shot and fished the egg/zebra midge combination and found three more browns that were looking for eggs as well as some brief tangles with trout that took a variety of cress bugs and pheasant tails of various sizes.




After spending most of the morning thoroughly enjoying myself, it was time to start on the drive home but it was a shame to leave on such a gorgeous day. Days like this one aren't that common in  late November, so I  was especially thankful to have the opportunity to fish over fussy PA browns and have some success.  The shorter rod and leader definitely made the fishing easier and more enjoyable.



Friday, November 24, 2017

A morning on the Yellow Breeches

It was time to pick up my daughter from college for Thanksgiving break which gave me an excuse to fish the Yellow Breeches in PA again.  The morning started bright and sunny and the air quickly warmed.  Soon the air was filled with small clouds of midges and small olives.  I decided to fish in Boiling Springs along "the run".  If you like small streams, the run is one of the most challenging small streams I've fished.  The run is small and tight and the water is very clear and shallow making it tough to approach the shallow riffles and tail outs where the fish are holding without sending the fish rocketing for cover.

A small wild brown (red adipose) that took a small olive nymph



I fished most of the morning with small nymphs and foam eggs and found a number of very pretty browns.  I did well in the heavier runs where I could approach without alarming the fish but it in shallow runs and riffles I still spooked quite a few fish.  The next time I visit, I have some more adjustments to the leader in mind so that I can effectively fish small nymphs from farther away.



  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Giving Thanks




Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone and thanks for following along!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

November days

November on the Farmington
It seems like this fall has just flown by!  It wasn't that long ago that we experiencing warm days and lots of fall color and now  we are midway through November and the winds of winter are starting to stir once again.  I spent a cool, overcast day on the Farmington River this past week. About mid-day some steady snow showers enveloped the river and the surrounding hills.  Between the overcast skies, leaves that are mostly off the trees now, and the falling snow, there was a very grey solemn cast to the day that only enhanced the solitude that was to be my experience this particular day.  I fished a number of spots and only saw one other angler all day.

A fall spawner?
The first cast I made connected with one of the prettiest rainbow trout I've caught in the river this year. From the orange belly, I am tempted to think that this was a fall spawning stocked rainbow.  I am told this does occur in some stocked rainbows. I am never overly excited by hooking up on the first cast since past experience usually indicates that the fishing will be slow for the rest of the day!  Not only did I connect on the first cast but the rainbow took a Lafontain deep pupa that I was using as a dropper.  I've fished this fly on a number of occasions and I have rarely caught fish on it.  I don't really know why I put it on other than it was fall and there were caddis around earlier.  I know plenty of people that fish this fly often and do well with it, just not me until today.

After thoroughly working the first location over pretty well, I moved on to 4 other locations without a bump.  My fifth stop was a section of the river that I explored for the first time this past summer.  Again within a few casts I had another nice rainbow again on the Lafontain caddis! I guess the rainbows were just looking for caddis pupa!  I will have a few more in my box the next time I am out!

Another rainbow on the look-out for tan caddis pupa
 I continued to work this section and found a good sized brown willing to take a foam egg that I was trailing behind the anchor nymph that I was using to keep the flies close to the bottom.  The brown was was missing a nice chunk of it's tail that I guess was the result of tangling with something a bit bigger with a round jaw.


I continued to fish hard for the rest of the afternoon without any more hookups.  Even though the fishing was slow, it was a rare pleasure to be out and enjoy the river all to myself with the snow and grey skies filling  the landscape with subdued overtones that made the day especially enjoyable.  I am sure those of you who have spent a lot of time outdoors understand and have had similar experiences.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Wild ones

A tiny tributary in healthy shape after
some recent rain
One of the many joys of small stream fishing is the fact that most fish in these small streams are wild fish.  While small headwater streams don’t hold large fish, the ability to observe the stunning beauty of these wild fish is the reason some of us are drawn to this endeavor.   This is especially true in the fall when the brook and brown trout begin to take on their characteristic pre-spawn coloration and the New England woodlands echos these changes with the distinctive yellows, oranges and reds of a hardwood forest in seasonal transition.

Recent rains were reminding me of the simple pleasure of small stream fishing in the fall and had me looking for an opportunity to get out again.  Visiting a favorite small stream, I was pleased to see that it was full and flowing at a level that reminded me more of spring than fall and I wondered if fishing a dry fly was the right choice.  Despite my doubts, I was content to fish a dry fly all morning long along the riffles and glides.  Several small yearling brook trout were interested in the elk hair caddis but nothing larger.

Approaching a stump along the stream's edge, I drifted the dry in a small seam just alongside the stump's edge and saw a nice brook trout rise to inspect the fly.  I generally don't see small stream brook trout refuse a fly, so I tried again trying to get more natural drift and again the fish rose, put's it's nose right under the fly, and then descended, disappearing once again into the cover that the stream bottom provided.  At this point I was convinced that a fly change was in order.  Looking through my box, I pulled out a small parachute Adams that I often fish in the fall and drifted it through the same seam.  The first drift failed to produce a response but the second brought the trout up from it's hiding spot and it took the Adams. After a brief battle, I was soon admiring the bright orange belly and dark throat of a gorgeous native brook trout.  

  
I continued to fish the Adams and found a few willing to take the dry fly, most however were willing to only take a swipe or two.  In the last run fished this particular morning, I also found a beautiful little wild brown.  I rarely find a wild brown as far upstream as I was, but it was a very fitting end to a fall morning out chasing wild trout and enjoying all the sights, sounds, and smells of a fall morning in New England. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

A couple mornings on the Yellow Breeches

I was back in PA the end of last week and early this week and had the opportunity to spend a couple hours on two mornings on the Yellow Breeches.  Last week, the recent rains had brought the river up a touch and it was off-color but not muddy.  The morning I was out there was a light rain but nothing too heavy.  I started out nymphing a soft-hackled pheasant tail that had worked well a couple of weeks earlier when the river was low and clear.  This particular morning the PT was not attracting any fish, I suspect because of the lower clarity of the river.  I figure something with a bright hot spot might be a better choice so I switched to a frenchie of about the same size with a pink ice-dub collar and stuck with that the rest of the morning. 

The first fish of the day was a gorgeous wild brown with beautiful golden belly and well defined red spots, red flair on the adipose fin and bright red rays in the tail, all indicative of a stream-born brown.  Unfortunately in my desire to keep the fish in the water, it managed to take off before I could get a picture.  I found another downstream but it slipped the hook right before the net.  While I stuck with the frenchie as the point fly of the two nymph rig I like to use, I did experiment with various droppers.  I was convinced that a caddis puppa in the right size and color would interest a fish or two but regardless of the dropper, all the fish took the frenchie.  The odd thing with the Breeches is that I can't remember ever catching anything on a dropper where at home in NE I catch almost half of the fish brought to the net on the smaller dropper.
Look at all the spots on the lower jaw and belly

For a couple hours the browns seemed to be the most active but I did catch a couple of colorful rainbows similar to those I found on the last trip.  In fact, I am certain that the first rainbow of the day was one I had caught back in mid-September.  It was sitting in the exactly where I found it previously, right up against a sycamore tree. 


I was a little concerned whether I would be able to stay dry since I had left my rain jacket at home but the rain was fairly light and the gray overcast drizzly morning was delightful in the way the gray drizzly mornings often are.

Then this week, I explored another section of the Yellow Breeches.  The river was clearer than I was expecting.  The frenchie was not working in the greater water clarity so switched on a more natural caddis and zebra midge.  I did manage a couple of stocked browns and one beast of a fall fish.  There were sporadic rises all around me making me wonder how I would have done fishing a small olive dry fly.