Monday, May 30, 2011

Black Files and Brookies ?

    This weekend was our first trip up to the Adirondack Mtns in Upstate NY since the opening of trout season.   I have been wondering how my favorite little Adirondack brook faired over the harsh winter.  There was a lot of snow and much rain over the spring months resulting in record flooding.  The spring run-off along with a wet past two weeks had me wondering if the brook would be fishable.   This is also black fly season in the Adirondacks.  For those of you unfamiliar with these tiny monsters, they can drive you stark raving mad very quickly.  I thought getting up early in the morning might be my best chance of avoiding becoming bait since these little carnivores tend not be as active in the cooler parts of the day.

     When I arrived at the trailhead, I could hear the brook before I could see it, and boy was it full of rushing water.  This short clip gives you some idea of how much water was moving through brook. 
     I wondered whether I could find any softer sections to fish.  I usually bolder hop around the brook to fish it but today I had no hope of crossing it so I was restricted to fishing sections that were accessible from one side.  Dry flies were out of the question so I turned to streamers but quickly realized they were being swept too quickly along in the rough current.  I decided to try a small variation of a black bugger I tied last winter for just such an occasion.  I tie these on a size 12 nymph hook, a brass bead head, small black marabou tail, peacock herl body, and palmered black/brown hen hackle with a couple of turns at the head to form a collar.  This little fly was the ticket and I was able to hook quite a few brookies in the softer seams of the endless pocket water.
      One last intriguing spot had me wondering if a decent sized brookie could be enticed to follower the streamer.  Sure enough, as the streamer worked between two converging currents a decent fish turned on the streamer.  This time I could tell the fish had some weight to it.  As I brought it closer I was surprised to slip my hand under a beautiful rainbow, which had all the markings of a wild fish.  This is the second rainbow I have caught in this brook and I am beginning to wonder if a resident population is being established.  The colors on this fish were amazing including some faint par markings, brilliant red stripe and cheeks, and rose colored fins. 
A wild Adirondack Rainbow
      I almost thought this morning was a lost cause with all the heavy water, but I now know that all is well on my favorite little Adirondack brook in spite of the heavy snows and rains this spring and the bugs weren't that bad !

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What does Impressionism have to do with fly tying – Part 2

     We are starting the second week of rainy weather. Every day last week there was rain, whether showers or a steady light rain and this week has started with more of the same. It will be a while before the rivers and streams around here are fishable again, so I’ve been doing some tying.
      I thought I would pick up on a previous post that generated some interesting comments and extend the line a thought a little. (Posted March 16, 2011 In the previous post I was considering the form of North country spiders and relating some observations to the impressionism movement in art occurring at a similar time. In addition to form, there is also some aspects of impressionism that relate to color. Specifically how primary colors can be roughly combined to provide an overal impression of a particular shade, but also give the impression of light striking an object as the individual primary colors are still plainly visible. The same effect can be achieved with “spectrumized” dubbing which uses several primary colors of dubbing blended to provide highlights in contrast to the homogenous single color of most commercial dubbings. Here are a couple of comparaduns that I’ve tied using the Caucci/Nastasi spectrumized dubbing available through the Delaware River club. I really like the overall effect and have started to experiment a bit with my own mixtures. So go ahead and get yourself an inexpensive coffee grinder and have at it !

Isonychia blend (L) and Dark Hendrickson blend (R)
Closeup of the dark Hendrickson comparadun
Close up of the isonychia comparadun

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dozen+ X 2

Midges blanket the Farmington
Taking advantage of an open schedule at work, I took two afternoons off to fish the Farmington River in northeastern Connecticut. This time of year the Hendrickson hatch is in full swing and is the first good opportunity for taking fish on dry flies.

Wednesday afternoon was overcast and cool and the hatch lasted for most of the afternoon.  I had arrived and found a gentleman with whom I’ve shared this spot in years past. It was nice to catch up and meet his son who was visiting from the west coast. We gave each other plenty of room and began to fish, it had all the makings of a great day until a rather rude older man managed to crowd himself in between us. Since I was not able to fish the area I had worked into with him so close, I left to find some breathing room. Further upstream, I found what turned out to be another father/son pair and asked if they minded me fishing upstream from them a bit. The Farmington gets a lot of angler traffic and I think they were a bit surprised someone actually asked! I started out using a tandem rig with a comparadun and a trailing wet fly. This combination worked very well last year and this year was no different. Before the hatch got going in earnest, the fish were taking the wet and as the hatch started to kick in interest turned to the dry.  I was quickly into a handful of fish with the wet. I eased down toward the son who had not hooked into any fish while I was there, gave him a wet fly, and showed him how to rig it and fish it. I was all smiles  when I saw him quickly hooked up and yell back a thank you. We enjoyed the spot while the hatch lasted and caught a nice bunch of browns and rainbows in the 12-15” range.

What was left of the flies
As early evening approached I worked back downstream to where I had started and rested and chatted with the first father/son pair I had met as we waited to see if there would be a spinner fall. At the appointed time, clouds of spinners were visible overhead and the females began depositing there eggs in the water. The three of us eased into the water and enjoyed some great action as the fish greedily took the spinners.  I was in a prime spot and was taking lots of fish including an 18+ inch brute of a brown. Unfortunately, my attempts to take a decent picture failed. I asked the son if he would like to come down to where I was and showed him where the fish were rising. As I looked down he seemed to be regularly into fish and having a great time and Dad got some good pictures of his son’s catch. I always enjoyed seeing others having a great experience. In addition to catching a dozen+ quality browns and rainbows, to see two young men enjoying themselves with their older fathers was especially rewarding.

A 16" Farmington Brown
Thursday afternoon, was a clearer, warmer day with air temps in the low 70’s and the water a nice 58. The hatch was lighter and shorter than the previous day. Thursday, the fish were only interested in the dry. By late afternoon, about a dozen fish had been caught including a couple browns that slammed the dry in faster water well after the hatch had ended. The spinner fall was lighter than the previous night and occurred much later. I did find a few fish that apparently were anticipating the spinner fall a bit, including a solid 16” brown.  It wasn’t until almost dark when, high above the water, a large number of spinners, many paired up, could be seen. There is something about a spinner fall that I find inspiring to watch. Again some decent fish started rising to the spinners. Probably because of the better weather several people moved into where I was fishing, including one spin fisherman who thought that trying to hit me in the head with this lure from across the river was part of the sport. After he crossed my line several times, I just moved up into a more open section and saw a good size fish rise several times. After a few drifts I was into a very solid brown but could not determine how big it was since it stayed deep. As it tired, I could tell it was another red/copper brown of decent size that didn’t like the look of my net and ran hard whenever I got it close. Eventually it was brought to the net and a picture was taken. In the fading daylight the vibrant dark red/coppery color of the fish was not captured in the photo. It measured just over 18”. After few final casts as the darkness grew, I hooked into what seemed like another sizeable fish which broke off so I called it a night. In addition to the fishing, I also saw a mink scurrying along the river bank and two large blue herons fishing but not close enough to get a picture of either. As I drove home the words of an old song from my childhood came to mind …

An 18" copper brown
This is my Father’s world and to my listening ears
all nature sings and round me rings
the music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees of skies and seas
His hand the wonders wrought

This is my Father’s world the birds their carols raise
the morning light, the lily white
declare their makers praise

This is my Father’s world He shines in all that’s fair
In the rustling grass I hear him pass
He speaks to me everywhere

Monday, May 9, 2011

An afternoon chasing wild trout

It's been a couple of weeks since I was out last between things piling on at work and around the house. I decided that I would fish for a couple of hours after work on friday and spend the weekend trying to catch up. We are very fortunate in CT to have a number of places to fish this time of year. I was torn between fishing a larger river where the usual springtime hatches are in gear or a small stream for wild fish. It’s been such a long time since I’ve fished a small stream and I needed some peace and solitude so I opted for a small stream not too far away that I have fished a few times.

I’ve grown to appreciate the start of each new season and the changes that they bring; winter turning to spring, spring to giving way to summer, summer to the cool mornings and the colors of fall and back to the quite white of winter. There somthing wonderful about all these seasons in New England as each that displays the glory of their Creator. This time of year, I especially enjoy the small wildflowers that grow along the stream banks that signal to movement of spring into summer.

I arrived late in the afternoon and hiked downstream to a pool I've fished a couple of times, hoping to see some rising fish. The stream was nice and full, clear and a cool 56 degrees. I decided that I would fish a Bomber with a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle as a dropper. I eased into position keeping a low profile and sent the bomber and dropper into the main current over a deeper section against the opposite bank. After the second drift the bomber went down and I was into a nice fish. After a couple of head shakes and a run or two he was on his way back home. I eased up a few more feet on my knees and tried again and found another pretty wild brown willing to take the pheasant tail soft hackle. I continued to work my way up into the run entering the pool and picked up a little brook trout. It was then that I saw my first rise of the afternoon. It was not clear what the fish was interested in but you could tell it was a healthy size fish from the amount of water it displaced. After a few drifts the fish exploded on the bomber but I failed to connect. It wasn't until a little later than I realized it had attacked the dropper and I actually broke it off.

I moved a little downstream to another promising looking run and missed another fish then managed a decent brook trout. Crawling along the bank, I was face to face with lots of wild violets and other small wildflowers.  From there I moved downstream a bit more to a larger glass pool. As I stood and observed from a long way away, I did see a few rises here and there. Using some taller brush as cover, I moved in behind the brush to camouflage my approach and make my way to the bank. Holding close to the brush I cast the bomber through the main current with no interest. On previous visits, I have seen fish rising in the tail of the pool up against some larger boulders. Using larger long backhand cast to stay hidden; I managed to drop the bomber within a foot of the boulders and drifted the rig along the rocks. Bang, down went the bomber, this time with authority. There was no doubt this was a sizeable fish for this tiny stream and this wild brown fought hard. In the end, I held another beautiful wild brown that once again reminded me of why I love fishing little streams for wild trout. It never ceases to amaze me that trout can be so hidden from view when in the stream yet be so vibrant and colorful when held in the hand.

At this point the sun was hazily drifting through the trees and reflecting off the calm water. Midges were everywhere scurrying about in the surface. It was one of those perfect quite spring afternoons that we long for during the dead of winter. I just sat for a while giving thanks for the ability to enjoy it all for a little while. There were still fish rising at the head of the pool, so I crawled up to using some bank side cover to hide my approach and decided to experiment with a black Stewart spider. This fly has taken rising fish every time I’ve used it this spring and this afternoon was no different and another wild brown was brought to hand.
I went back to the bomber/pheasant tail soft hackle combination to fish some more riffles and runs further along. A couple more wild browns were brought to hand along with a bunch of misses. As the day was waning, I headed back and try the pool I started in once again before packing it in for the day. Using the same approach as before, yielded another solid fish. As the fish came to the surface I could see the pinkish chrome side of rainbow. This fish also fought like the other wild trout of the day and was beautifully marked. It certainly didn’t look like a stocked fish. This stream is known to hold wild browns and brook trout although I haven’t heard any mention of a wild rainbow population present. Too bad the rainbow was camera shy and flipped out of my hand before I could take its picture.  It was great to get out and enjoy some fresh air, solitude, and some lovely wild fish with the added surprise of catching three species trout.