Friday, April 29, 2016

Oh no!

Dutchman's breeches
I'm sure every one of you out has a story to tell about something you've forgotten on your way to the river. We'll this morning in my rush to get everything ready and in the car before work so I could leave directly from work, I forgot to pack the flies!  The river is about an hour's drive from home so there would be no driving back.  Fortunately, my rods were still strung up with three flies from the last trip, one of which was a Hendrickson soft hackle so I decided I would swing the soft hackle for bit and see what I could find.  Even if did see a hatch, I figured I would still do pretty well with it. I did manage one rainbow on the wet, which was a bit of a moral victory.

Fortunately for me, my buddy Pete was also in the area.  One of the benefits of tying flies for your friends is that when you leave your boxes at home they are likely to have an extra fly or two, maybe even a few of yours!  Pete was gracious enough to loan me a couple comparaduns, one of which connected with a nice rainbow.  I guess I'm gonna have to give Pete a few more flies since he didn't have any of my comparaduns in his box.  Thanks Pete!

A healthy 16" holdover rainbow (all the fins in good shape)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


I spent the other afternoon running around the Farmington River trying to find a location with a little space to fish.   Later in the afternoon I got a call from my friend Pete who had noticed fish rising in a location that had some room so I quickly relocated and had a wonderful couple of hours fishing comparaduns and spinners to rising fish.  The afternoon started off in frustration but thanks to Pete's tip, it ended well with lots of browns, rainbows, and one brook trout taken on the dries...Redemption.

 By request, here is a video for the egg sack spinner I've been fishing ...Enjoy

Monday, April 25, 2016

Life and death juxtaposed
Fishing smaller streams is about simplicity, just the essentials, being alert, observant, being alive and present in the moment.  It is good medicine for the soul when life gets complicated.

Walking along the unfamiliar landscape, I felt at times like I was in a valley in the Shenandoah mountains surrounded with mountain laurel and plunge pools.  The water was clear and cold yet full of life and the brook trout slammed the bomber time and time again.  After the quiet gray of winter, the forest is now coming to life as tiny lilies, wood anemone, and wake robin rise up through the decaying leaves  of last fall.

Wood anemone opening to the late morning sun

Wake robin or purple trilium
Later in the afternoon another stream was visited where wild brown and brook trout coexist.  Days like this one are not common, so we savor them with our senses and tuck them away in our memories as days of simplicity, peace, of silence, of life.


Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad:
Let the sea roar, and all it's fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord    Psalm 96:10-11

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hendricksons Part III

Hendrickson dun
Wednesday afternoon, plans were made to meet up with Michael Carl on the Farmington River.  Mike and I met through facebook over a mutual interest in "soft hackles" or wet flies and started messaging and eventually made plans to met and fish together.  I arrived a little earlier than Mike and so started fishing a run I haven't fished in quite a while.  It wasn't long before the double nymph rig stopped and I could feel a good fish had taken the dropper.  It was the typical bulldog brown battle with it hugging the bottom.  I just tried to stay downstream of him and keep side pressure on.  When I did get the fish close enough to look I could see the dark body with lots of bright red spots.  I just tried to stay patient and let the fish dictate and eventually the nicest wild brown of the season was in the net (for perspective, my net is 11" across at the top).

A hefty wild Farmington 
After Mike arrived we chatted for a bit and waited for the hatch to get going.  It was another light hatch but there were a nice bunch of rising fish to target.  The comparadun continued to be effective bringing a mix of holdover browns and a nice rainbow that was sitting on the soft side of a seam across a good current from me.  With a upstream reach cast I was able to get nice drift and the rainbow took the comparadun.

A healthy rainbow with a comparadun

Mike with a nicely colored brown
Blue sky and sycamores, simple beauty
 After the hatch the river got quiet for a couple hours so we passed the time nymphing, resting, chatting about small streams and just enjoying the beautiful day on this scenic river.

As the sun began to set the air above the stream became filled with insect swarms of egg bearing females and mating pairs.  I've rarely seen so many bugs in the air, they were everywhere.  I only wished I had stopped to take a video!  I targeted the first riser and hooked a healthy brown using a smaller an egg sack spinner (one that I had tied based on my observations two nights previous).  The Mike hooked into the biggest brown of the evening that took the spinner in water a lot of people walk through.  At that point a couple guys from Maine stopped by, we chatted with them for a bit and ended up helping them target some fish.  I was pleased to see one of them land a good brown on one of the spinners I have him.

Walking back to the cars we saw a few fish rising very close and I managed to land another decent rainbow at close range in the fading light, and so ended another beautiful spring day.

The first brown taken on a egg sack spinner - photo courtesy of Michael Carl
Mike with the best brown of the evening taken on a spinner in shallow water

Hendricksons part II

The season's first trout lilies

Monday afternoon I was able to take some time off and head up to the Farmington River to fish during the Hendrickson hatch.  Pete (aka TROUTI) and I had made plans to meet on the lower river and plans were made to be joined by Mike.  Mike is a local angler who had connected with me through this blog.  We have be corresponding by email for about a year and we were excited to finally able to meet face to face.

Prior to the hatch, I headed up into a boulder run to nymph the pocket water while the others worked the run at the head of the pool.  I was pleased to find rainbows holding behind the boulders and in the seams of the run.  Over the course of an hour of working through the run, I had landed three nice healthy rainbows before heading back to the others to see if the duns would start coming off.

One of three pocket water rainbows
As expected, the hatch started pretty much on time but didn’t really generate a lot of bugs like I had seen the previous week.  Nevertheless there were fish looking for duns and everyone was into fish during the hatch.  The comparadun accounted for most of the fish with the exception of a few early fish which were taken on the wet fly.  While the hatch was disappointing it was nice that everyone had some action.  As the hatch wound down, you could see spinners with egg sacks mixed in with the duns, encouraging me to stick around until dark for a potential spinner fall.

Mike and I stopped by one of my favorite little runs before I settled in to wait for a spinner fall.  I picked up another decent rainbow on the second pass through the run and then said goodbye to Mike who headed for home while I made my way to a location to wait to see what the evening would bring. 

The last rainbow of the afternoon - photo courtesy of Michael Stephens

While I was waiting to see if a spinner fall would materialize, I worked the head of the run and hooked two fish but quickly lost both in the heavy current.  As I reached the top of the run, the spinners were getting pretty thick in the air and I was feeling pretty good about waiting it out.  I sat down for a few minutes to rest and eat a sandwich while I watched the dance that was playing out high overhead.  While there were a ton of spinners in the air and on the water, the fish never really started taking them with any frequency and my spinners were ignored for the remainder of the evening.  While the lack of activity was disappointing it did provide an opportunity to get a good look at the spinners coming down the river in numbers.  Careful observation revealed that they were smaller and thinner than what I had with me so the following evening I spent some time at the bench tying something closer what I saw on the water the night before.

Friday, April 15, 2016


I've been seeing reports that the Hendricksons have been out in force on the Farmington River so I took the last two afternoons off and headed up to the river.  Apparently a lot of other people had been seeing the same reports because there was a lot of people all over the river.

Yesterday afternoon, I was hoping to do some nymphing at the head of a pool that is usually a good bet for fishing dries.  I did manage one brown on the first cast but I think the other guys who arrived early in the day had worked the area over pretty well.

Once the hatch got going the number of bugs in the air and on the water was impressive. Unfortunately the fish weren't really taking notice.  I did see two rises in some faster water and managed to take one decent holdover brown on a compardun and briefly hooked and dropped the other.

From what I saw, I think the hatch is just starting because the fish really weren't taking notice.  I think it takes a few days of a heavy hatch for the fish to get clued in.  Later in the afternoon I did find a couple of sporadically rising fish picking off a few straggling hendricksons.  I landed one on the comparadun and broke off the other.

This afternoon I thought another location might be a better option because the wading is more difficult and it tends to discourage heavy traffic. When I arrived early in the afternoon there was a couple guys nypmhing so I headed up into some heavy pocket water and managed a holder over brown and a rainbow nypmhing the current seams.  It was at that point the I was noticing some water in my waders.  By the end of the afternoon my right leg and foot were sloshing around in a good bit of cold water.  I think it's coming from one spot so I picked up some Loon's UV wader repair.  Hopefully I will be able to report that this is a great product and works really well!

Once the hatch kicked in it was another strong one with lots of bugs on the water.  More fish were taking duns off the water but they had a lot of targets to choose from and it usually took a number of drifts through the same line before a fish would take the compardun.  The comparadun accounted for some healthy browns making me forget the fact that might right leg was soaked!  I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to spend two great spring days outside.

One of the better holder browns
For those interested here is the fly of the day...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Home water

The earth is awakening, the trout lily will soon be blooming

I love the adventure of seeing and exploring new places and landscapes, wondering what lies ahead of the next riffle but I also like to fish smaller water close to home.  There is a sense of comfort and familiarity that comes with fishing water that you've taken the time to get to know, banks you've hiked along many times, water that you've observed change through the seasons of recent history.  This is what it means to me to fish "home water".                                      

For the opening day of trout season this year, Alan and I met to fish a small stream away from those who are more interested in filling their buckets with pellet fed fish.  Alan suggested a brook well-known to both of us but even in places like these the particular conditions on any give day will move the fish around.  The stream was flowing a bit high but very clear and after some early experimenting I settled on a dry dropper rig with a heavier nymph that could get down quickly in the heavier current.  A couple of brook trout did come off the bottom to slash at the Royal Wulff I was using as an indicator, but most of the fish I hooked took a bead head caddis puppa dropper tied off the bend of the Wulff,


I can't think of the better way to open the trout season...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Rocky Mountain Adventure

I don't often get the chance to travel in the west but when I do I usually try to fish since it is a great way to experience first hand the unique natural beauty of new places, in this case the vastness and majesty of the Rocky Mountains.  Prior to the the trip, I made guide arrangements with Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne, CO for  two half day wade trips.

Day 1 - was warm but overcast and as the afternoon progressed the wind picked up and you could feel the weather changing as a cold front approached.  Chris (guide for day1) had thought that fishing the Blue River above Green Mountain Reservoir would be a good option hoping to connect with some rainbows that move up the Blue as the reservoir ice opens up.  We fished hard in the surreal surroundings of massive chucks of ice and managed a couple hookups and one silvery rainbow to the net but as the weather changed the fishing quickly turned off.

Blue River rainbow
The surrounding mountains as a front began to move through
Day 2 - thankfully Kory's (guide for day2) schedule was flexible enough to allow us to wait an extra day for the weather to move through so that we could fish the Colorado River in better weather.  The night before was clear and the early morning temperatures where in the single digits but a later start provided enough time for the sun to warm things up.  The drive up and into the Colorado River canyon was spectacular and I took lots of photos of this unique high dessert landscape.  It's not often that I can enjoy vista that encompass hundreds of miles in one direction here in the northeast.

We arrived in the canyon late morning and started fishing a gentle glide and were quickly into some gorgeous healthy wild browns (one cutbow also decided to join in the fun).  The wild browns were quite strong and active, running hard both up and downstream after being hooked rather than the usual head shaking, deep dive followed by a prolonged, bottom-hugging, tug of war characteristic of most of the larger browns I've caught.

Some gorgeous, healthy wild browns
About mid-morning, Kory turned over a rock and I was astonished by the number and size of the nymphs all over the rock.  It looked like something out of a low-budget Sci-Fi movie.  With all that biomass available it is no wonder that the fish are so healthy and strong.  As on day1, we were indicator nymphing with a PT, a brown rubber legs, and an RS2.  Many of browns were taken on the rubber legs (no surprise here given the size of the nymphs were were seeing) but the other flies also accounted for fish.

A couple salmon fly nymphs and various other nymphs

We continued to take fish in the softer seams as we worked our way upstream into this amazing beautiful canyon.

A blue-cheeked brown

The last brown of the day
The trip back was a delight as the late afternoon sun brought the mule deer out into the meadows. We were on the lookout for elk and big horn sheep but did not spot any.  The low, late afternoon sun softly light the high dessert landscape and with the Continental Divide in the distance, it was a stunning drive back to close out a wonderful couple days of fishing the Rockies.

mule deer in a high meadow

God's creation is so amazing and varied and I am very thankful to have had this opportunity and would like to thank to the guides Chris and Kory from Cutthroat Anglers for two fantastic days and Howard Levett at Windknots & Tangled Lines for recommending them.