Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top flies of 2012 - Hare's ear wet

It's getting cold around here with snow expected overnight.  It was a good day to get organized and clean up the spring fly box.  Tan and green caddis usually follow the Hendrickson hatch around here.  This past spring, I had good results fishing a hare's ear wet fly similar in construction to the Hendrickson wet.  I tie this fly either with a rusty brown thread or burnt orange thread (both versions are shown below).  For the thorax of this fly and the Hendrickson wet, I form a dubbing loop and touch the dubbing to the waxed thread and then spin it.

 #12 Mustad 3906
Rusty brown thread
brown partridge tail
hare's ear dubbing for body and thorax
gold oval tinsel rib
Brown partridge hackle 

burnt orange thread version

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Even though recent events have reminded us of the ugly reality of life, this season is time to remember God’s great love towards man.  Jesus Christ entered this corrupt and violent world to live among us and eventually die for His lost creation and in so doing forge a lasting peace between sinful man and a Holy God.   This Christmas, let us embrace the gift of all gifts; a Savior who came to set us free from sin and bring everlasting peace and joy into the hearts of to all those who put their faith in Him alone.
Merry Christmas to all !

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another winter afternoon

As the end of the year draws to a close, it was a nice opportunity to enjoy another mild December afternoon with Alan and Kirk.  The morning started off cold and slow with not much activity to speak of until early afternoon when the fish were active for a couple of hours and interested in taking a dry fly.  Each of us caught a handful of beautiful winter brook trout, most still  bearing their fall colors despite the low water temperature (38F).

A tan elk hair caddis and a peacock herl-bodied elk hair caddis were the flies of choice.  As the sun and air temperature started to drop in the late afternoon sky interest in the dry flies tailed off as well.  I finished up with a couple on a lighten bug with some soft brown hackle just behind the bead.

Kirk fishing a nice run
Winter gold 
A colorful hook-jawed male that took the elk hair caddis
Alan photographing and releasing another winter brook trout
This brook trout had a single red spot with a blue halo just below the dorsal

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hendrickson comparadun and soft-hackle

Following the emergence of the early black stones, the next major hatch in the Northeast is the Hendrickson emergence.  Who doesn't like fishing large dries to hungry fish that are looking to the surface?  The Hendricksons get going sometime in April in these parts and this year things started off at the end of March and lasted the whole month of April.  When the fish are actively taking emergers and adults off the surface the comparadun is the fly I go to.  Truth be told, I find myself fishing the comparadun for most mayfly hatches these days.

I use Delaware River Club spectrumized dubbing (Red/brown) for the Hendricksons.  I really like this dubbing because it is a blend of many colors that give an impressionistic look to the fly.  The wet or soft-hackle version of this fly was also a top producer for me.  I start off fishing the wet trailed off the bend of the comparadun.  Initially, I catch fish only on the wet, then as the fish start focusing on the adults they will take the comparadun and then back to the wet when the hatch tails off.
 Hendrickson comparadun
Size 12 TMC100 or other dry fly hook
UTC rusty brown thread
dun microfibbets for the tail (split)
Red/brown spectrumized dubbing
comparadun hair wing (deer)

Hendrickson wet
Size 12 wet fly hook (2x heavy)
UTC rusty brown thread
brown partridge fibers for the tail
Red/brown spectrumized dubbing
gold oval tinsel rib
brown partridge hackle

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December brook trout and dries

Ice on some submerged branches
I had the pleasure of meeting up with Alan Small Stream Reflections and Kirk Trout Quest Redux for a late morning/afternoon of fishing for small stream brook trout on a perfect December afternoon. The morning started off chilly with the thermometer in my truck reading 25F when I left the house but the morning warmed as the sunny rose in the sky.  The bright sun felt good but made keeping our shadows of the water challenging at times.  It was a real pleasure to spend an afternoon with two guys who enjoy small streams and being outdoors in any season.

I fished a couple the pumpkin head and a soft hackle hare's ear combination but quickly realized there was too much weight for this small stream.  At one point Alan remarked they if we didn't catch any Pete was never going let us hear the end of it but no worries, everyone managed a few

Alan working his magic
The high points included Alan spotting a brook trout that was not interested in his caddis, but thought something black would do the trick and he was spot on.  I tossed a starling and herl over it and it charged it but I struck too soon and missed it.  We spotted many fish as we walked along indicating a health stream.  As the afternoon warmed, we enjoyed a rare treat, catching brook trout on dries in the middle of December.  The flies of the day included small black foam and elk hair caddis and some small #18 adams.

One of the nicest brook trout of the afternoon that chased Alan's caddis
As we finished up by a bridge Alan remarked that a bugger would probably work really well in the pool below the bridge.  I pulled out my box and showed him a couple of small peacock buggers I used in the Adirondacks.  The second cast brought a nice rainbow to hand proving Alan right again.  We said our goodbyes and all left feeling like we had enjoyed a day well spent thanks to Kirk and Alan.

The last fish of the day 
On the ride home the news of the terrible tragedy that rocked a local CT town was all over the radio.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, the families, the school children and the teachers, and those who were called to the scene to respond.  As president Obama said, "our hearts are broken".  May God's grace abound to all those who are very much in need of it in the days ahead.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top flies of 2012 - Starling and herl

I'm starting a series of posts on flies that worked well for me in 2012.  First up is a classic wet fly that I did surprisingly well with throughout the month of March.  Spring in New England brings the first hatch of the season, the early black stones.  When fish are picking them off the surface they  can be difficult to fool with a dry fly, but a wet fly fished in the film and on the swing will do the trick since the skating movement of the naturals seems to be what draws the fish's interest. 

I usually tie this fly on a size 16 light wire dry fly hook.  Another tip is too leave a good tag of thread off the back to wind back through the peacock herl to give the fly a little more durability.  The fly is finished off with a couple turns of starling hackle, the feathers with the green iridescent sheen.

Not only does this fly fool trout keyed into early black stones but will also fool trout taking black caddis, ants, or beetles in the summer months.  This is a simple and versatile fly throughout the season.

#16 TMC 100 or Mustad R50
black thread
body, 1 strand of peacock herl 
starling hackle

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cabin Fever

I really wanted to get outside for some fresh air since it's been too many days stuck inside.  This morning, the outside temp was 42F with a steady drizzle that started yesterday morning and is expected to continue for another couple days.  I decided it was just the day for a visit to a small stream I haven't fished since the summer.  The woods were quite, shrouded in a gray December fog, but couple of small browns were interested in chasing the bead head pheasant tail and partridge.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tis the season for tying

pheasant tail and partridge
(natural and black) and pumpkin head midge
With the colder weather closing in and the trips streamside become less frequent, my attention turns to tying.  In the winter months, I review my log book to see what patterns worked well over the last season so that I can replenish stocks of time proven patterns.  Here's and old favorite that has proven itself year after year, the pheasant tail and partridge with a copper bead.  I can never have enough of these as give a lot these to friends and people I meet.   The black version works well in early spring when the small black stoneflies are around.

My favorite way to fish this fly is to trail it off the bend of a large dry fly, but I also love to fish it in a brace of wets.  It even serves well as a dropper on a Euro nymphing rig.
Size 16 wet or nymph hook
2.8mm tungsten copper bead
small copper wire rib
 4 pheasant tail fibers (tail and body)
peacock herl thorax
grey partridge hackle

Monday, November 19, 2012

Coincidence or just good planning?

I was traveling this afternoon for work and just happened to be passing a small stream known to hold some wild brown trout and I just happened to have my small stream rod and box of flies.  With about an hour left of daylight, I was stream side.  Forty five minutes of late afternoon fishing brought a fist full of wild browns to hand along with a few misses.  All the fish today preferred the bead head pheasant and partridge to the pumpkin head midge.  A very much appreciated break in the monotony.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Fabulous Finn strikes again

You can't beat the Mickey Finn for salmon on a bright day.  With the colder morning, I thought a sinking leader and a larger fly might be the ticket so I started out a tube fly version.  After no sign of interest, I switched over one tied on a classic salmon single and the next pass through the run produced a nicely color male.

 Mickey Finn on a #4 salmon single
Tube variation

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to spend a day off

Today was the only day that my calendar was free enough to take a day off.  I usually try to save a few vacations days for late fall as I really love being out in the November air.  Today was a little cooler than it's been for the past couple days.  When I left the house this morning the thermometer was reading a chilly 39F but the sun was out and it made it seem warmer than the thermometer indicated.  The plan was to fish a small wild trout stream in the morning and do some salmon fishing in the afternoon.

I fished a double rig this morning starting out with a bead head pheasant tail and partridge with a pumpkin head midge as a dropper.  All the fish early were taking the pheasant tail and a number of wild browns were brought to hand.  Eventually, I switched the midge for a foam egg, and then a picket pin wet but only the pheasant tail was drawing interest.  I ended up going back to the pumpkin head midge late morning and I soon as I did I had a wild double on.  Unfortunately both fish managed to free themselves.  From that point it a was mixed decision between the PT and partridge and the pumpkin head midge.

Flies of the day, #16 pheasant and partridge and #18 pumpkin head 
With a few hours of afternoon left, I headed off to fish for broodstock Atantic salmon.  The state of CT breeds Atlantic salmon in a local hatchery and then releases them into a couple designated areas in the state.  With the federal restoration program ending in the Northeast, the state plans to maintain the program for CT sportsmen.  

When I arrived, an older gentleman was in the process of landing one and he asked if I would assist him since he was spin fishing from shore and would not be able to easily land it in the spot he was.  I managed to tail it and hand it over to him and take a couple of pictures.  After he landed the fish, he headed home leaving his email address so I could send the pictures to him.  Not 10 minutes after he left a good sized salmon exploded on my Mickey Finn mid drift and proceed to peel line off my reel as it headed clear across the river and into a shallow area clear on the other side.  It managed to get the line hung up on a rock and I could not budge it so I headed across the river, hoping I could make it all the way across.  When I reached the snag, the fish was no where in sight.  After I freed the line the fish took off upstream in another blistering run.  I figured I would stay put and land it on the other side but the fish had other ideas and headed downstream and between some submerged rocks so I followed trying hard to keep the line free from another snag.  At this point I was in the middle of the river so I opted to head back to the side I started on and try to land it in a sandy beach area.  After a long tug of war I did manage to beach it.  Unfortunately my camera's battery was dead but another fly fisherman offered to take a picture on his camera phone and send it to me.  

What a great to be able to enjoy the outdoors and manage to fish for beautiful wild brown trout and Atlantic Salmon all in the same day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A day well spent

There are times in all our lives when we just need to get away from the noise and busyness of life.  What better way to refresh the soul than spending the day outside.  The day started off meeting up with my friend Ben for some salmon fishing.  After spending the morning swinging salmon flies I traded the 7 wt for the 3 wt and stopped by a small wild trout stream and enjoyed the falling leaves and quite calm of a woodland stream in late October.

A handful of handsome browns and one brook trout were brought to the hand using small black stimulator with a bead head pheasant tail and partridge trailed off the back.  A few fish pounced on the stimulator but none were hooked.  The pheasant tail was the fly of choice this afternoon.

You gotta love the size of the tail on these wild browns !

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday afternoon out

This one barely fit in the net
Headed out mid afternoon Sunday for a couple of hours of fishing.  I brought along the streamer rod along with some of the large streamers I recently tied up for the fall.  This would be my first attempt at fishing these on a sinking linking line.  I was amazed at how quickly the line brought streamers down in the water column.  Nothing was interested in chasing the streamers but I did split the time Euro nymphing and managed to tie into a nice rainbow that was living in front of a pile of brush.  It took a Strolis #20 DDT
Head shot with DDT
a paddle of a tail

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One last visit

Keeping it simple, a 3wt and fly box
When you fish a small stream several times over the course of a season, you become very familiar with it, like an old friend whose look tells much more than the actual words that pass between you.  The trout season in New York State is rapidly winding down, so I wanted one more chance to visit with an old friend of mine.  I've fished this brook for many seasons, there's just something about it's rugged beauty that keeps me coming back.

With the recent fall rains, the water levels were quite healthy and with air temps in the upper 40's there was no doubt the water temps were cool.  Funny thing is, when I fish this brook in October, I rarely catch many brook trout and this trip would be no different.  Perhaps the fish are preparing to spawn.  Plenty of fish would chase and bump mini black bugger, baby brook trout, or 13th lake streamer but only a few were brought to hand.  It was great to be out in the raw air and smell the damp hemlock and fallen leaves.  Most of the red maples had dropped their leaves leaving a forest of yellow, pale green and dark hemlock green.

Getting ready to Bushwack into the valley
A first look through the forest
A look downstream
A favorite pool
Hemlocks and Hardwoods