Saturday, December 21, 2013

A winter's day

  1. Alan and Kirk and I met up this morning for a little winter fishing.  It's been cold and snowy around here over the last week and the stream was wearing it's winter coat of snow and ice.  It was a bit difficult to fish due to the fact that most of the deeper, slower water where fish hold in the winter was iced over and covered with a blanket of snow.  I did manage one small brook trout on a mini muddler by fishing it along an ice over hang.  It was small stream ice fishing!  Look for an open "hole" and try to drift a fly under.

Late morning, we modified our plan and moved to a section of stream which carries more water hoping to find more open water which proved to be a better plan in the end.  I ended up fishing Alan's pink worm and picked up a nicely colored wild brown in a plunge pool.

Still nicely colored despite the cold

After wishing each other a Merry Christmas, I decided the check out one bridge that sometime holds the odd rainbow.  Sure enough a dark rainbow saw the pink worm and decided he wanted it so I ended the day with a brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

A small stream winter rainbow

This was probably my last outing before Christmas, so I will take the opportunity to wish each of you and your families a Merry Christmas!  God bless

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A December outing

Winterberry adding some color to a gray December day
The weather forecast was calling for a chilly week ahead and today looked like the best opportunity to do a little small stream fishing so plans were made to meet up with Alan and Kirk.  The stream had a healthy flow thanks to two days of light rain.  The day was mostly overcast, cold, and damp but the sun did break through occasionally, warming our backs and faces.

The sun brightening an otherwise gray day

The brook trout were enthusiastic despite the raw day and showed an interest in a variety of flies.  Sometimes you just want to fish a certain way, even if it isn't the most productive for the conditions.  Today was one of those days, I really wanted to fish a dry so I chose one of Fran's mini muddler since I could fish it both dry and wet.  The fish took it off the surface keeping my dry fly streak alive but they also took it stripped sub-surface.

A handful of colorful December brook trout
Alan and Kirk took me to another section of stream that was new to me.  The new section was wider and had more water flowing in it.  I manged to take two nicely colored brown trout on the mini muddler before calling it a day.

The first brown of the afternoon

The last and best fish of the afternoon

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families from the Adirondacks - God bless

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A November day on the Farmington

The bright red berries of Barberry along the river 
Today was a cold, blustery day on the Farmington River.  The air temps hovered around the lower 40's with a biting wind but the bright autumn sun was a welcome relief.

I Euro nymphed early with no interest and then met up with Pete (TROUTI).  We fished a decent stretch of river in the late morning into early afternoon but didn't move any fish.  I was ok with the lack of action, this is to be expected if you are going to fish on colder days.

A clear sunny, windy day on the Farmington
After discussing our options we arrived at a plan for the afternoon.  We crossed the river and hiked down to the run we selected.  I started Euro-nymphing at the head of the run.  I had a good bump but had the tippet knot failed and I lost the fish, anchor, and the dropper.  I replaced the anchor and dropper and tried again.  This time I connected with a decent fish that proceed to leap several times.  We both thought I had hooked a rainbow but it turned out to be nicely colored 14" brown.

A colorful brown that took the DDT micro nymph
While I was fishing the head of the run, Pete was swinging an articulated streamer in the tail and managed to connect with a very nice 16" brown that hit the streamer hard.  A pair of decent fish at in the late afternoon was a nice way to end the day.  I did stick around to see if I could spot any fish sipping small olives but the wind pretty much shut down any surface action down.

Pete with a nice brown in the net
The last brown of the afternoon

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The versatile angler

Oak leaves trapped in the early morning ice
Today turned out to be one of those New England fall days that I love.  Moderate temperature (although it started out below freezing) and sunny skies.  I was fortunate to be able to rearrange by work calendar and take the day off.  The plan was to hit a number of different runs and fish nymphs, streamers, and maybe a dry.

As a medicinal chemist working in cancer drug discovery, I spend a fair amount of time reading how other researchers tackle interesting problems.  I pay particular attention to strategies and new technology that are used because these can sometimes be used to advantage to solve new problems.  Fishing is similar; being proficient in range of techniques allows one to be productive over a wide range of conditions. 

Barren Sycamores along the Farmington in the late morning sun

Pete (TROUTI) is one such angler.  When I first met Pete he was an excellent dry and wet fly fisherman who was at home fishing nymphs and standard streamers.  A couple of years ago Pete started learning Euro style nymphing and does quite well with it.  After seeing Pete's success, I started experimenting with it myself last year.  Before last year, I hated nymphing.  I could never really get the knack of seeing the fish take the nymph and when I did hook one by accident, I usually lost it.  It was a very frustrating experience.  Since I've been Euro nymphing, I am much more successful.  This year Pete started fishing large articulated streamers and getting proficient with this technique as well.  So today I decided I would fish a couple of the six inch articulated streamers I tied last year but never fished.

the first brown of the morning Euro nymphing

The plan was simple, start off the morning Euro nymphing a couple of runs I had in mind, spend the afternoon stripping the big stuff, and finish off the day with a tiny dry.  The weather was perfect for what I had in mind. 

A hefty rainbow taken on the DDT micro nymph

Nymphing the first run did not produce anything but the second deep run produced two nice browns and a very hefty rainbow on a #18 DDT micro nymph.  I moved locations to the first run that I thought would be a good place to break out the 7wt Bank Robber with sinking tip line and started stripping an articulated olive Muddler (two #2 hooks).  Mid way through the run a nice brown nailed the streamer and was solidly hooked on the trailing hook.  I was fun to feel the aggressive take even on the 7wt!  Walking back to the truck, I took a peek up a tiny flow of water coming into the main river.  I watched a fairly good sized brown hanging in the current for a while, content to just observe.

The first brown that nailed the articulated Muddler

Can you spot the big brown?  Look for the tail 

I moved upriver to another location and after a river side lunch in the warm sun, some quiet reflection, and a little reading.  I was so thankful to have this day to enjoy outside.  After lunch, I fished the articulated streamer rig again and another brown mauled the streamer.  I was very pleased to have landed two fish on my first attempt fishing these streamers which are larger than the small stream brook trout I love to catch.

With the sun moving lower in the afternoon sky, I decided to stop at one last location to see if I could spot any fish taking dries.  With the 4 wt rigged with 6x and a #22 olive snowshoe emerger, I walked along the river looking for any dimples.  At first there was just one but then you could see a fish here and there cruising in the flat water taking small stuff in the surface film.  I spotted one within casting distance and dropped the fly in front of the last rise I saw and let the fly slowly drift over the spot when a nice brown took the fly off the surface, the small hook took hold and the final brown of the afternoon was soon in the net.  As the sun slid below the horizon, I headed back to the car having enjoyed a wonderful day in God's amazing creation.  As I walked back to the car I chuckled at the thought of catching fish on such a wide range of fly sizes, from the articulated streamer tied with 2 #2 hooks, all the way down to the #22 olive emerger. 

The last brown of the afternoon that took the #22 olive emerger

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A cool Novermber Saturday

the dashboard thermometer  

This morning started out a frosty 29 degrees and clear, one of those crisp fall mornings.  I got an early start and headed to a nice run to do some early morning nymphing.  Things were slow getting started but I did manage two browns Euro-nymphing.  One took the DDT dropper and the other the Rock Candy anchor.  After a couple of fish to start the day off, I drove to meet Alan.

The last taste of Autumn color along the Farmington

A nice brown that took the Rock Candy anchor

After some chatting, we decided to visit a small stream for the late morning/early afternoon and then head back to the Farmington later in the afternoon.

I felt as if I was in the Adirondacks on this small stream

We both fished an Ausable bomber and had lots of small brook trout attack the fly.  I managed to hook one, take it's picture and send it back on it's way.  At one point, I just stood and observed several spawing pairs of brook trout circling in a larger pool.  They weren't interested in the fly, having other things on their minds.

A nicely colored November brook trout

The stream had a good flow of water despite this fall being so dry.  It will be interesting to come back and fish this stream when there is more water in it, in that there are some nice deep holding lies and I suspect it is capable of producing some larger brook trout.

We headed back to the Farmington around 1PM.  I was hoping to find some fish sipping olives.  It seemed like a perfect day for it, overcast with afternoon temperatures in the mid 40's.  I elected to fish a spot that I thought was promising and Alan headed upstream for a little bit before he had to leave. After 45 minutes, I had yet to see a rise and the temperature was cooling off, so I decided to pack up and head for home.  I thought I would stop and check out a place I haven't fished in quite some time since it was on the way home.  In years past, this location has had fish rising in late fall to small olives. As I walked the bank, my eyes were scanning the surface for any small dimpled rises.  After spotting one that rose twice, I cast a #22 olive snowshoe emerger over it and manged to hook a decent brown. After sending the brown on it's way, I was able to fool another brown and a rainbow before everything went quite for the afternoon.

The first brown of the afternoon on the snowshoe olive emerger

The last fish of the afternoon

It was a typical November day in New England and wonderful to spend most of it outside fishing. Today was a mixed bag, a little Euro nymphing, some small stream fishing with Alan, and fishing small flies to rising fish to close out the day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Some small olive emergers

Here are a couple variations of an olive emerger that I've been fishing when I've found fishing sipping small olives this fall. When tying small flies, you need to keep things very simple so that the fly's body doesn't become too bulky.  

The main idea of the emerger is to keep the body of the fly in the surface film of the water with the wing above the surface so that the fly can be spotted and followed.  When fishing small olives, your casts need to be dead on the feeding lane because fish don't move much for these small morsels.  Your timing also needs to be right, so be patient and don't over-react when a fish takes a natural inches from your fly.

The CDC olive emerger uses CDC (oiler puffs) for the wing.  The CDC allows the wing to be tied in with minimal bulk behind the wing so that the body remains slender.  The CDC floats well but in my experience CDC is not very durable.  After catching a fish or two, it's tough to get the fly to float  again but I have caught fish on this fly "wet" on the swing, so even thought the fly gets beat up, it will still catch fish.

CDC olive emerger
TMC 100 #22/24
UTC 70D olive thread (body)
brown sparkle emerger yarn/zelon (tail)
dun CDC oiler puff wing

Another variation of this fly is to use light dun snowshoe rabbit fur for the wing.  The snowshoe rabbit fur is much more durable than the CDC version but there are times when only the CDC emerger will take fish so it's good to have both on hand.

Snowshoe rabbit olive emerger
Same recipe as above
substitute snowshoe rabbit fur for the CDC

Tie some up and go catch a few on dries!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Starting off November

Maple in the morning sun

Today I had the opportunity to spend most of the daylight hours out on the Farmington River. It was one of those glorious fall days.  The sun began peering over the tree tops about 8am casting it's warm light on the reds and yellows of the hardwood forest.  I started off nymphing and picked up two nice browns and a rainbow and dropped another.  All the fish took the DDT dropper.

First rainbow on the DDT

The first direct morning sun light over the Farmington River

Farmington Brown in fall colors

After a couple of hours, I headed up river for a tune-up of my Spey casting.  It was good to get in some more practice and correct some faults under the watchful eye of Mary and Jerry of Spey Casting North East.  I also wanted to get in some practice casting "river right".  Jerry helped me figure out the snap T and snake roll.  After a couple of hours, I think I have most fishing situations covered.  Between my love for fishing wets and the pleasing gentle rhythm of Spey casting, I can see myself looking for a light trout Spey rod.

After picking up a sandwich and some water, I headed up river in search of some fish sipping olives.  I wanted to keep my streak of consecutive months of catching a fish on a dry fly going.  I figured today would be one of the few opportunities for Nov and wanted to take advantage of the warm weather. I was pleasantly surprised that I had the spot in mind totally to myself.  I couldn't see another soul up or down river!   Before long I started seeing the dimples of fish taking emergers.  Carefully observing the rises revealed the backs and tails of fish which indicated they were taking something in the top inch or two of the water column.  I put on a #22 CDC olive emerger and started casting down and across.  If the cast was spot on and the timing was right, I would get a gentle take.  I missed a couple fish but I was able to connect with a nice brown and then the best fish of the day, a hefty 16 in rainbow.  After I landed the rainbow and keeping my streak alive, I decided to call it a day even though there were still fish rising.

I was thankful for such a wonderful day in the warm sun and fall colors enjoying some quality fishing in peace and solitude.  Days like these are medicine for the soul!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Salmon after work

Ally's Shrimp 
I haven't fished for broodstock salmon that much this year.  I've been out a couple of mornings for brief outings and have managed to see a couple of fish roll here and there.

With the daylight savings time coming to a close at the end of the week, I made a quick trip after work today and chose a section of river with a couple of runs close to each other.  I couldn't move anything in the first two spots.  In the last spot, with daylight fading, I got a nice tug on the Ally's Shrimp about 2/3's through the run.  I let the fish take a little line and then lifted the rod and could feel the heft of a decent fish.  The fish ran across the river towards the shore directly below me.  I put a little side pressure on hoping to solidly lodge the hook when the hook let lose. Disappointed that I didn't land the fish, I was still pleased that I was able to hook one.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A blustery day on the Housatonic

The Houstanoic River in the fading colors of Fall

This afternoon was one of those blustery fall days, with the temperature barely reaching 50 and windy.  Nevertheless, it was a great late fall day to be outside and what better way to spend it then standing in a river swinging wet flies.

I met my neighbor Mike late morning and we took a drive up to the Housatonic River in Northeastern CT. When we arrived at the river and found a good stretch of water to fish.  Soon after getting into the water we noticed some fish rising.  I started out nymphing but quickly realized that fishing wets was the way to go in the wind.  Switching over to a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle, I soon had the first fish of the day but it quickly came unbuttoned.  I stuck with swinging the PT soft hackle most of the day and managed to land a handful of browns.  Mid afternoon I switched to a # 22 olive CDC emeger and managed one rainbow.

The first brown of the afternoon, notice the green elastomer behind the right eye

Mike with a nice rainbow

A lovely rainbow that took the #22 olive CDC emerger

I had thought that this might turn out to be a good day for swinging wets so I brought my 12' two hander along to get in some practice.  I was swinging a Mickey Fin when I hooked a rainbow and landed my first fish on the new spey rod.

Another nice brown that took the PT soft hackle,
 this one has a red elastomer behind the right eye

The days are getting shorter this time of year and by the time the sun was going down, the cold was starting to take it's toll on legs and hands.  I've been saving a few vacation days for my favorite time of year, and today was exactly what I had in mind.  It was enjoyable day spent outdoors in good company.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Afternoon on the Housatonic

My calendar was pretty open yesterday afternoon and it's been a while since I've had the chance to do a little fishing so I called an audible and took the afternoon off to fish a river I don't often get the chance to fish. I met a couple of neighbors who I recently learned like to fly fish.  We started at a popular pool and were surprised how many other people had the same idea!  I thought for sure the river would be pretty deserted on a Tuesday afternoon.

There wasn't much going on in the first spot.  I had a couple good bumps on the bead head pheasant tail soft hackle but no hook ups so I decided to be a bit unconventional.  I tied on an iso comparadun with an iso nymph dropper even though by all accounts the isos are done.  I managed to fool one rainbow before we decided to move away from the crowds.  Before leaving, I did spot a couple fish sipping small olives in some slack water so I decided to see if I could fool one.  I put a nice cast over a decent sized fish in some shallow water.  I could see a bulge under the fly but no take so I decided to work another fish.  With some persistence I was able to hook a brown before moving on.

Brown that took the #22 snowshoe rabbit  emerger;
notice the red elastomer behind the right eye

While there was a lot of activity at the first spot, it seemed like the rest of the river was devoid of everything but the odd photographer taking pictures of the beautiful fall colors.  We fished another section hard with little to show for the effort so I decided to go unconventional again.  I know the few risers I saw were taking olive emergers or spinners but I decided to try a caddis pupa fished dry.  After a few drifts, I hooked into another rainbow that put on quite an areal display before ending up in my net.

A handsome rainbow that took the caddis pupa

It was so nice to be out in the fall air, enjoy the sounds of the river, the colors of fall, and the company of some new friends.  Even though I had to work for the few fish caught it was a well worth the trip.   When the fishing is slow, remember to try the unconventional. You may be pleasantly surprised with the result!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Some October tying

Was not able to do much fishing lately, but did manage a little time at the bench tying up some October caddis patterns.  Here are three variations on the October caddis; the LaFontaine pupa; a wet tied in the north country tradition, and an elk hair dry.

October caddis emergent pupa
TMC 3761 #14
black thread
amber sparkle emerger yarn over body and tail
brown dubbing underbody
deer hair wing
brown squirrel dubbing head

October caddis spider
Mustad 3906 #12
orange Pearsalls silk body
partridge hackle
peacock herl head

October caddis elk hair dry
TMC 100 #14
black thread
orange dubbing
brown hackle palmered from head to tail
small copper wire rib counter wrapped over the hackle from tail to head
natural elk hair wing
peacock herl head