Saturday, August 31, 2013

My first trip to the Ausable River

New York Aster
This may sound strange for someone who fishes the Adirondacks quite frequently, but I've never fished the Ausable River.  But that all changed this past week.  The High Peaks region of the Adirondacks is a bit of a haul from where we visit but I really wanted fish the spawning ground for some of my favorite flies tied by Fran Betters.

The drive up into the mountains was one of the most beautifully scenic drives I've taken in a long while.  The road followed the path of a decent sized brook up through a steep gorge. Up in the rock faced walls you could see narrow waterfalls descending hundreds of feet to the floor of the valley below.   The road then traversed some wide valleys that gave you the impression of the vast mountain valleys of the west before heading into the town of Wilmington, NY and the home of White Face mountain.   I made mental note of some landscapes that I wanted to photograph on the ride back.

Pocket water of the Ausable

I arrived around noon at the Two Fly shop in Wilmington, NY and talked with Tom about flies and the river.  Tom was very helpful and suggested some places to start.  I would definitely recommend this shop to anyone heading to the Ausable.  I was a bit apprehensive about fishing this river alone, since it has a reputation for being a rough river to wade.  Armed with wading staff and felt soled boots with studs, I started out downstream of Wilmington.  The section I fished was an seemingly endless ribbon of pocket water.  I was able to find a couple decent sweet spots and managed to spot a trout taking small stuff off the surface (flying ants?).  I figured it had seen an isonychia at some point and tossed my comparadun over it and bang, I was into a decent wild brown that fought hard and used the strong current to it's advantage.  I managed to hook and drop another decent brown on a yellow stimulator after noticing a lot of stonefly casings on the rocks.  I probably should have broken out the Euro nymphing rod and used a heavy stonefly nymph but I really wanted to fish Ausable bombers and Wulffs.

Whiteface in the background

Wild Ausable Brown

After an afternoon of hopping around the large boulders to get to some fishable water, I was getting tired and hungry so I took a quick break for something to eat and headed upriver to look over a couple more spots.  The first spot I stopped at I was amazed at the size of the boulders along the river; some of which the size of a house!  It was getting toward dark and the bank looked a little steep to be wandering around alone in a unfamiliar environment, so I headed further upstream for a calmer section.

Early Evening View looking south into the high peaks region

I found an inviting pull off and a good sized pool and figured it was a good place to fish for an hour or so before I needed to head back.  I did see a couple of rises and noticed that there were a ton of flying ants swarming around me.  I figured the iso trick might work again since I did see a couple in the air, so I drifted the iso comparadun with an iso nymph dropper that I bought from Tom at the shop.  A nice fish jumped on the dropper as it drifted through the tail of the run.  I managed to work it to the net and got a decent look at a 14-16in brook trout before it broke off as I was trying to haul it into the net.  With that it was time to head back.  It was a great first experience with this famed river but I definitely felt like I had just touched the surface of this river.  I am already thinking about when I can return and take in more of this amazingly beautiful section of the Adirondack Park.

Final Panoramic view of the High peaks

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Adirondack Adventures

The brook is looking a little dry
Just got back from a few days up in the Adirondacks.  While June and July were very wet months in the mountains, August has been dry.  I had enough time for a quick trip to a brook that I haven't visited this year.  The brook was dry but the water temp was still cool.  I started off with an Elk hair caddis and brought a couple of small brook trout to hand.  I decided to experiment a bit and put on Fran Better's Picket Finn (without a bead).  The brook trout went nuts chasing it and needless to say, I will be fishing it more!   I finished up fishing the Elk hair caddis to a couple rising trout and landed one and hooked the other.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest ...

one of my favorite pools

A brook trout interested in chasing a Picket Finn
I finished up fishing the Elk hair caddis to a couple rising trout and landed one and hook and lost the other.

Daisies growing stream side

Small isolated wind damage that snapped trees off just above the ground.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday afternoon among friends

Cardinal flower buried in some tall grass
Yesterday afternoon, several of us met on the Farmington to introduce Apache Trout (the ravine angler) to the river.  Brk Trt and TROUTI have been fishing this river for a long time and know it very well.  TROUTI graciously introduced me to the river a few years back so I was anxious to tag along with these two veterans.  I do enjoy the solitude that fly fishing affords but I also enjoy fishing with friends.

The "crew" AT, TROUTI, Brk Trt, myself (R to L)

I arrived a bit later in the afternoon than the others and met up with them mid afternoon. The fishing was slow for some reason but a few fish were caught by all.  AT managed his first Farmington rainbow and missed a nice fish in a riffle I was showing him.

AT swinging a streamer through my favorite type of water
Rainbow that took the olive stimulator in a fast moving riffle

Fish were caught using streamers, Euro nymphing, big flies, and small flies.  There really wasn't any pattern that was consistent throughout the day.  For my part, I Euro nymphed a little and managed one feisty brown. Then turned to the olive stimulator and picked up a rainbow in some faster water.  I finished off the day with hooking up with a wild brown that took a rusty spinner (#22) around dusk.

Farmington raised brown the took the rusty spinner
The fish were sipping something small late.  I watched for a while and tossed the rusty spinner out among the rises without any notice.  I didn't make the connection at the time but I did notice having a lot of tiny flying insects on my neck and arms when standing in some tall grass. Talking with another angler later, I realized that those were tiny flying ants and it was probably what the fish were taking. Yet another lesson learned; pay attention to what lands on you and look closely at it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Big flies and moving water

Was out on another beautiful Friday afternoon. August has been gorgeous so far and a pleasant relief from all the heat and humidity of the month previous.  I started in a good location with a nice riffle so I put on an #12 olive stimulator (grasshopper ?) and off the bend I put a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle.  Once I worked into the deep section of the riffle I got a short strike on the stimulator and then another brown turned on the pheasant tail but I didn't connect with either.  As I moved up a nice brown took the stimulator.  At that point Kirk meet up with me and we fished up the riffle without any more interest.

Brown that took the olive stimulator

Kirk eventually found Alan and I meet them and we headed to a spot in the river that I had caught wild browns and brook trout the previous year.  This spot didn't disappoint, I managed to take a pair of pretty wild browns on the stimulator and a parachute Adams (#12) thinking the fish had probably seen some isonychia around.  I did break off another decent fish which immediately headed for the bottom shaking it's head the way larger browns will do.

A wild Farmington Brown (notice the red adipose fin)

I finished the day in spot where the fish were sipping something very small and out of my casting range, but I did manage get a decent drift with an iso comparadun and a sizeable fish took it and promptly broke off the 4x tippet.  You know a fish has some weight to it when you hear the splash followed by a ka-thunk!

Olive Stimulator
#12 TMC 200 hook
olive thread
tail - stacked elk hair
body - olive hare's ear dubbing
brown hackle tied in at the end of the body 2/3 the length of the hook and palmered to the rear and caught with small copper wire and counter-wrapped forward
wing - stacked elk hair
forward body - olive hare's ear dubbing
forward hackle - brown hackle palmered forward to the hook eye.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sunday afternoons

Sundays are my favorite day of the week, a day to regain perspective, to re-align my mind with what's really important.  I love getting up in the morning and getting ready to lead worship at our church.  There is just something wonderfully refreshing about praising my Creator and Redeemer with others whose hearts beat with mine, sharing a meal with family and friends, and spending a clear late summer afternoon with my feet in a river.

This Sunday afternoon, I headed to the Farmington river.  When I arrived the fish were sipping somethings small all afternoon.  This is always a challenging affair, but a handful of browns and bows were taken on a #20 olive comparadun on 6X (I only use 6X when fishing tiny flies).

Some bows and browns on the olive, both fish have been caught before!

I stayed late hoping for a sulfur hatch with spinners to follow but it looks like things are winding down in that regard.  The olive comparadun was the ticket for most of the night and the more worn the fly, the better it worked.  At one point all the deer hair wing was gone and it was more like a soft hackle but seemed to work better that way.  I did manage a few on the usual as darkness settled in but not so many as in days past.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A repeat performance

Tiger lilies growing stream-side
Yesterday was another pleasant late summer day so plans were made to meet up with the Alan and Kirk.  We started off early in the afternoon.  Alan headed upstream and did pretty well, while Kirk and I headed downstream and blanked.

We moved up to a spot that I wanted to fish that Alan and Kirk know pretty well.  I was fishing a simulator with a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle off the bend.   I was drifting the dry/dropper through the tail a nice riffle when the simulator went down and I set the hook into a good sized fish.  The hold over brown fought hard and kept moving downstream using the current to his advantage.  I was eventually able to get below him and get the net under him, which it barely fit into.  Went I released him he headed downstream and another decent brown bolted upstream a few feet from where I was standing.  The soft hackle took another pretty wild brown and a palm sized brook trout.  We are seeing more and more brook trout on the Farmington these days which is a very good sign of a healthy river.

Photo courtesy of Alan Petrucci

Kirk and Alan headed up river and I stayed for little before heading further upstream for the evening hatch.  When I arrived, the fish were sipping small olives.  I managed a pretty brown and dropped a few on a #20 olive comparadun.  

brown that took the olive comparadun

Later in the evening, I switched to a sulfur comparadun and managed what turned out to be the only rainbow of the evening.  After dropping a few on the comparadun  I thought it was a good idea to switch over to the usual before it got too dark to tie it on.  When I checked the leader I notice that the tippet ring had been torn off so I headed back to the car to replace the leader.  It was tough getting the usual on the end of the new leader in the dark.  When I got back in the water things were definitely winding down, but I did manage three decent browns in the dark which is a bit unusual (pun intended) for this location especially after I had just told a friend earlier in the day that for the past two seasons I've caught only rainbows in this spot!  That's why we fish, there's always something interesting going on!

The last brown of the evening