Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Season's First Hatch

The signs of winter's passing are beginning to become evident, the days are getting noticeably longer and even this morning's snowfall was one of those early spring affairs where the snow does little more the cover the early morning with a clean white blanket that it quickly sheds by noon.  I've always loved winter for quiet solitude that it casts on the outdoors but each new season brings something unique that I usually find enjoyable.

As I was looking through my fishing log, I remembered that last year about mid March there was a very nice hatch of early brown stoneflies.  For a couple of days in march, this first sizable hatch of the year can send a lot of these small dark stoneflies into the air.  I noticed that very few fish rose to the adults but I did pretty well with a #14 pheasant tail.  In preparation, I've been tying a few different patterns shown below.

The first is a variation on the classic beadhead pheasant tail.  I've used a gun metal bead, dyed pheasant tail (black) fibers, fine copper wire, peacock herl thorax and dark brown/black hen hackle.

I've also been reading up on some traditional north country spiders.  Their simple profile and sparseness is very intriguing and fun to tie.  For those interested in learning some more about tying and fishing these patterns here are some links I've found helpful.

Here are three north country spiders that might pass for an early brown stonefly.  They are known as the February Red, the Winter Brown, and the Black Magic.  The February Red is tied with red Pearsall's silk (cardinal), hare's ear dubbing for the thorax, and a woodcock feather.  I've substituted India hen for the woodcock.

The winter brown is a variation of the February Red with peacock herl for the head.  To provide more durability to the herl, the herl is wrapped around the thread using hackle pliers to form a tight rope.

The third is known as the Black Magic.  It uses brown silk, peacock herl for the thorax, and a starling feather for the hackle. 

We'll see if fish in New England approve ....Tight lines

February Red

Winter Brown

Black Magic

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An afternoon to remember

We have finally got a break from the weekly snow storms and a few warmer days have me wishing to go fishing again soon.  I have also been reading other fly fishing blogs and enjoying the stories that have been posted of memorable days out and days fishing with family.  With this in mind, I thought I would post an afternoon a couple of years ago that I will always remember...

It was one of those gorgeous pre-fall days in the Adirondacks, the morning was cool and by early afternoon the skies were crystal clear.  The mountains were showing that reddish/green that tells you that fall is just around the corner.  These are some of my favorite days to be out hiking and fishing somewhere.  This afternoon my youngest daughter (10) had decided to come along with me.  She had fished with me before but mostly from a canoe in the lake for small bass.  Today we were going to enjoy the day together doing some hiking and boulder-hopping in the brook and hopefully bring a few brook trout close to look at.  We headed to an area I had fished before and knew pretty well.  After a 30 minute hike in and bushwhack down into the valley that the brook ran through we arrived at the brook. She really enjoyed hopping from boulder to boulder to fish the plunge pools. We shared the rod, her hands in mine as we cast together. We were treated to some beautiful brook trout, marveling at each one and the colors and distinctive markings from one to another.  My youngest is the artist of the family and I thought she would really enjoying seeing how colorful native brook trout are.

View from the lower pool looking up the slide

We fished our way upstream from plunge pool to plunge pool nearing my favorite place which is a set of pools separated by a 30ft long slide where the water rushes down a solid slope of rock gently curving as it descends.  Both the pool below the slide and above usually hold a few nice natives.  We walked up the slide and were going to fish the upper pool.  This pool has two runs that hold fish.  The first is at the base of a small waterfall and runs close to the bank I usually fish it from, the other is a riffle that skirts the opposite side and empties directly into the slide below.  I  was fishing a royal wulff and had dropped it right along the outside edge of the riffle when something smacked the royal wulff hard, after a couple of splashes I could tell something larger than the average brookie was on.  After a brief few seconds I saw something that I just could not believe, an intense flash of pinkish chrome - this was no brook trout but what was a rainbow trout doing here ? After quite a display, taring up and down and across the small pool, a very colorful 10'' rainbow was in my hands and my daughter and I were admiring it's colors.  I've caught a fair share of rainbows and this one had one of the most beautiful pink stripes I've seen.  Too bad I had destroyed my camera a month before and I had not replaced it !   After releasing the fish we sat and talked about how this fish ended up here.  This brook eventually drains into a larger river that is stocked and perhaps a stocked rainbow made it up stream to the mouth of the brook and during the spring run off made it's way up the brook.  But the pool that we were fishing is about 1-2 miles up from the river and travels about 750 ft up in elevation over multiple plunges some of which are 3 ft high or more in lower water.  Of course there would be plenty of water to cover the plunges during spring run-off but the volume of water that runs through this brook is enough to make this brook deafening to stand near.  Either way, a journey of this distance up from the river is an amazing feat to say the least.

I must confess that I was a bit conflicted with releasing the rainbow since I wasn't sure what effect it would have on the native brook trout in the stream but  I couldn't help but feel for this little fighter.  One of the real fun things about spending time outdoors is the amazing and unbelievable things you are privileged to observe and this was one of those afternoons I will remember for a long time to come.   It was a wonderful afternoon in the woods with my daughter who was growing up so quickly. As we walked back down to the car we talked of our love for things wild and the things we had shared together on this beautiful afternoon

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Streamer fishing

Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing
Joseph D. Bates, Jr.

One of the things that I find particular enjoyable about fly fishing and fly tying is that there is always new things to learn.  Last winter I read up on tying and fishing wet flies and soft hackled flies and was able to apply some of the "book" lessons on the water with some success.  Learning something in principle is interesting but the fun is when you can see it actually play out.

I haven't fished streamers that much and so I thought I would do some reading this winter on streamers. Brk Trt was gracious to recommend a book for me to read. Unfortunately, it is no longer in print but it was not very difficult to find a copy that was in good condition on the Internet. Shown is a picture of one of the color plates that includes three classic streamers.  In the lower right you can see the light and dark  Edison Tiger and the Black Ghost.  Also shown is an older version of the Mickey Finn. I'll be tying some of these in small sizes and giving them a try.
Some classic streamers

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Royal coachmen wets

Royal trude wet

When I first started fishing the small brooks in the Adirondacks I used a royal coachmen streamer. I began tying these in smaller and smaller sizes. Over this last fishing season, I've been learning to fish wet flies so I thought it would be fun to tie the royal coachmen trude with a soft hackle so that it could be fished wet.

Lime trude wet
The recipe is the same as the royal coachmen trude with soft brown hen hackle substituted for the stiff dry fly hackle. The nice thing about these wets is that they can be tied in sizes useful for fishing small brooks for native brook trout.