Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to all of you

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and best wishes to all in 2015.  Thanks for following along for another year!

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace among those with whom He is pleased!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rainy Days and Mondays...

Every now and then I remember the old Carpenter's song "rainy days and Mondays always get me down" but I guess they didn't know the simple solution to the Monday blues:  go fishing!  The last two Mondays I've been able to use up some vacation time and fish.  It really does help get the week off to a good relaxing start.  For me it provides an added day of rest to consider things that were discussed in Sunday's sermon or Bible study.

Yesterday, a friend from work and I made plans to fish the Farmington River together.  He is an experienced smallmouth bass, walleye, pike, and muskie fisherman from the Midwest with some experience with the fly rod but he had never fished for trout.  I rigged the euro nymphing rod for him and he had getting a good drift down by the time we left the first spot we fished.  This is my usual "get on the board" spot and we blanked so I was wondering if I was going to be able to get him into some interested fish.   After not finding fish in the usual spots, I decided we should move on, a decision that proved to be a good one.

the first Farmington River brown of the day

The river was up higher than I usually like to fish and at the next stop the river had an angry look to it.  I had my wading staff so, I eased him out into the strong current and got his feet planted with the staff anchored between us just in case.  As I was showing him where to drift the flies, the first brown took the frenchie and took off downstream.  After a couple of strong runs, the hook popped out but no worries, we had found fish.  I ended up putting my heaviest stonefly nymph on point and the #10 frenchie as the dropper just to make sure the rig got down as quickly as it could.  It wasn't long before he got his first lesson on fighting a Farmington brown.  The brown won that battle but experience was gained.  In the end he was able to land a couple and I was as well.  All the fish took the frenchie, which is proving to be a fine fly for winter nymphing.  We fished a third location without any interest and a few more lost flies but the wading staff I dredged up nymphing this spot a month ago was still sitting on the bank where I left it, so John had a recycled wading staff for the next trip!  You can't beat fishing on a December Monday and catching a few! Who says Monday's have to get you down.

John's first Farmington Brown.  Opps, I forgot to tell the smallmouth fisherman how to hold a trout!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A December morning on the Farmington

It was a cool morning on the Farmington River this morning but as soon as the sun came out the mercury started to climb to the 40 degree mark. Around noon there were a good number of olives about but they were largely ignored.  I did manage to coax one snout to the surface but I missed it.

I started off the morning Euro nymphing with a frenchie anchor and a small foam egg trailing behind.  At the first location I dropped a decent brown but  connected with and landed a nice rainbow and brown on the foam egg

At a second location, the nymphing continued to produce taking two browns, this time both browns took the frenchie anchor.  As the sun began to warm things up the olives started coming off. I was thinking of packing it in and heading to a spot that might have some dry fly action.  Before I did and let the rig drift through a deep slow channel between two strong currents and hooked a decent fish. From the head shaking and deep dives, I was pretty certain it was a big brown.  When I finally got a glimpse of the fish, I could see it was big brown.  Even though I didn't accurately measure it, it was easily the biggest I've landed to date.

My personal best Farmington Brown
Some bittersweet in the morning sun

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dries, Brookies, and December snow

The last post asked the question can you still fish dries in December.  Well, yes you can most days even in snowy New England especially on small streams.  So with the forecast of some warmer weather I headed to a favorite small brook committed to the dry fly game.  A fresh snowfall the night before had the woods looking like a crystal palace as the sun tried to warm the cold earth.

I was hopeful that the several inches of rain we received over the last week would move some of the fish around and have them looking for meal.  When I arrived, the small brook was a bit higher than I expected.  It wasn't long before a small brook took a few swipes at the small parachute Adams. Generally, things were slow but I did bring a few small brooks to hand and missed a couple larger fish.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Can you still fish dries in December?

Can you still fish dries in December? Sometimes, but not this afternoon.  I tried a few early but with ice in guides and the air temperature barely above freezing it wasn't a very productive exercise.  Sometimes you just have to adapt.

It's December, it's cold and raw out, snow is still on the ground in the hemlock forest, and there is very little sunlight to warm things up so I put the dries away for the afternoon and put on a pinkie ( a pink San Juan worm variation).

Both Kirk and I brought some nice brooks to hand fishing the pinkie.  The fish were in the softer water as you would expect in this weather.  One big brook took the pinkie in a narrow channel but I was unable to set the hook.  After a second drift it rose again to chase down the pinkie and I missed again!  After a few minutes, I tried again and to my surprise it attacked the fly a third time!  This time the hook held and after a briefcase close range tussle, I was taking a picture of a lovely December brook.

As we were walking out, we spooked a trout lying along the bank in some wet leaf litter.  I don't know why they do this but I have seen it many times in the winter months.  The trout ran out in the current and we watched it settle into the current.  I told Kurt to toss the pinkie out ahead of it to see if it would take it.  Again the trout charged it twice and before Kirk could set the hook on the third attempt.  All the brooks had pinkish bellies.

A few scattered snow flurries started to fall as we walked out among the Hemlocks.  After a stop on the way home for several cups of coffee and a late lunch, we eventually could get the hands working again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ruby River 7'6" 3wt

An overcast late November day
Last week I broke the tip on my Cabelas' 50th Anniversary Custom Glass rod.  This was a favorite rod of mine and at 5'9" long, the little 3wt was a great rod for fishing small streams. Being a bit of a minimalist, it was the only small stream rod I owned, so I was a bit disappointed.   Cabelas had stopped producing the rod and it didn't look like I was going to be able to repair or replace it.  I did find out that Cabelas is re-introducing the rod this year but they are currently not available.

After some research, the Ruby River fiberglass rods caught my attention. They had some very positive reviews and the price tag seemed very reasonable so I ordered their 7'6" 3wt and it arrived in the mail late last week.  I have to say that I am really impressed with the quality of this rod, from the translucent burnt orange blank to the quality cork handle, all they way down to the nice reel seat.  In addition to the good looks, it casts like a dream!  In the backyard, I was easily laying out 30-40 casts with little effort.  It's a bit stiffer in the butt section than the Cabelas rod which I think improves it's casting performance relative to the Cabelas rod.  Having a short, 4 piece rod, will also appeal to those who want stow this rod in a pack for fishing more remote locations.  My only question was whether the longer length would be a disadvantage on a tight small stream.

Ruby River 6'7" 3wt paired up with an Orvis Battenkill I and 3DT line
So with a little rain and very favorable temperatures in the forecast, Kirk and I made plans to take it out and give the little rod a test drive.  The extra length was no issue at all and this little rod was a pleasure to fish in tight quarters.  It roll casts very easily and the extra length adds a bit of extra distance for those situations where a bow and arrow cast is warranted.  If you are in the market for a small stream rod, I would highly recommend you take a look at this rod.  The quality, price, and performance of this rod are hard to beat!

Kirk and I enjoyed the opportunity to fish small dries to willing fish.  While the water levels were still low, even after rain the day before, the fish were interested in our small dries.  I fished an Adams parachute (#18) and lent Kirk a Purple Haze of the same size.  We both had our share of hookups and there didn't seem to be any preference for one fly over the other.  More than likely the size of the fly was a more important consideration.  Lately, I've been enjoying fishing small parachute style flies. I find having a visible post is a real bonus when fishing small dries.  As we were walking out, I suggested Kirk try a pool where earlier I had seen several fish rise.  Sure enough, Kirk managed to coax a pretty rainbow to take a small emerger off the surface.  It was another great afternoon out fishing small stream and a good opportunity to give the new rod a proper breaking in.

Wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving with your families!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A November afternoon walk

This afternoon I took a walk along a favorite small stream.  The water level was predictably low and I saw and spooked more fish than I coaxed to the fly.

The cool temps, gray skies, and ocassionaly snow showere didn't suggest that the dry fly was going to be very effective but sometimes I just enjoy fishing a dry fly on a small stream regardless of the results.  

Today I fished a #18 purple haze just for fun.  I had a handful of brief hookup with one to hand but it was great to be outside for couple of hours.  Being outside for a couple hours is medicine for the soul

Thursday, November 13, 2014

November gold

The gray days of November are here.  It sure felt colder then the thermometer was showing with overcast, stormy looking skies, and a steady breeze.

Yesterday, the game all subsurface and covering lots of water. Definitely not numbers day but fish were caught in 3/4 locations I fished.  A heavy anchor to get the fly down and moving slow along the bottom of seams and soft creases and underneath the leaf hatch was essential.  The trailing foam egg was the fly that sealed the deal most of the time.  The browns are looking very colorful these days!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The colors of fall

It's been a wonderful fall this year.  Here are some pictures remembering the colors.of fall.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November days

A lone yellow maple along the river

November days are here, those gray fall days. Most of the trees have dropped their leaves but there is the odd tree here and there still bearing yellow leaves

Despite the overcast skies and a few small olives in the air no fish were noticing them as far as I could see.  The day was spent with the nymphing rod.  A foam egg behind a heavily weighted anchor fly brought a handful of handsome browns and a pair of rainbows to the net.

Mid day I traded the waders for hiking boots and fished a small tumbling brook.   The brook trout swiped at the Royal Wulff but didn't really take it solidly so a switch was made to a small parachute Adams that brought a couple of camera shy brookies to hand.