Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A brief stop along the way

After spending a few days with my oldest daughter in the SNP, my wife and I made our way up to central PA to pick up our youngest for her fall break from Messiah College.  It just so happens that the Yellow Breeches runs right through the campus.  So what is a father supposed to when you are waiting for your daughter to get out of class?

I had a wonderful couple of hours exploring the river and even managed to find a few fish.  The browns looked in excellent shape and from the red fringe on the tail and the complete fins were likely holdovers or wild fish.  I even found a little wild brown, suggesting that this river is in excellent health.  What a great break from driving and I look forward to exploring it some more over the next 4 years!

A very good sign for the future

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall colors

My wife and I had the pleasure of spending two wonderfully clear, warm days in the Shenandoah National Park with our oldest daughter this past week.  I've said this before, but the SNP is one of my favorite places and having the opportunity to visit during the fall foliage season made our visit especially memorable.

We spent the days hiking upper Hawksbill and the White Oak Canyon trail and taking pictures.  It was fun for me to show them around and I was thrilled that they were able to see lots of deer and watch a black bear along the Skyline Drive.

In addition to hiking and spending time together, I did manage a couple hours to fish a stream that I haven't had the chance to return to since my first trip to the park in the spring of 2015.  With 2 hours to fish before the sun set, I figured that if I really moved quickly I could reach the area I wanted to fish in about 45 minutes.  That would leave 30 minutes to fish and then hike back out but I would have to push since it would be all up hill on the way out.  Unfortunately, my watch had died a few days before so I was running solely on my internal sense of time.

I was not certain if the stream would have a decent flow of water with the dry summer and fall the East has experienced this year. When I reached the spot I had in mind, I was delighted to see a healthy flow of water, probably the result of Hurricane Michael that passed through the area about a week before.  I started fishing a foam ant but quickly switched to a Royal Wulff and then added a hare's ear dropper with a bright red bead in an attempt to move the larger fish hanging on the bottom of the plunge pools.

Southern Appalachian brook trout have to be one of the most beautiful strains of eastern brook trout and truly stunning in their fall colors.

After fishing a pretty stretch of stream and finding fish, I thought I should pack up and head back up the trail to the car.  On the way out, I startled an owl which silently took off through the trees in the late afternoon light.  As I ascended out of the hollow, I could see the sun still in the sky bringing a sense of relief that I hadn't stayed too long. When finally reached the car it was a few minutes before six o'clock, just enough time to pick up the girls and the camera gear and find a spot to watch the sun set together!

The end of a wonderful day in the park

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On of those afternoons...

What says "New England" more than a covered bridge over the
Housatonic River in the fall? 
It was one of those afternoons, those crystalline clear, cool early fall afternoons that we day-dreamed about back in the hot humid days of summer.  One of those afternoons, when you just wanted to be outside to breathe the air and to lift your eyes toward a vast landscape of greens with small pockets of yellow, orange, and red.  All signs of even more beautiful days ahead.

It was one of those afternoons, when you explore miles of good looking water without even a bump using your go to nymphing rig.  But, no worries because it's just one of those fall days that being outside is enough.

Some great looking water but NO interest from the fish!

It was one of those afternoons when everything seemed to turn on at just the expected time.  Where you were in the right place at the right time.  Where you had everything figured out before things even started to happen.  It was one of those afternoons, where for 2 solid hours you and your buddy had non-stop action starting with a small #20 CDC olive emerger and then swinging small wets.  It was one of those afternoons when everyone around you was wondering "what are those guys doing right?".  Yes it was one of those afternoons you dream about and every now and then experience! It was one of those afternoons.

The first fish of the evening, a "survivor strain" brown as indicated by
the red elastomer behind the left eye

The best brown of the evening, a solid, highly colored brown that took the small olive CDC emerger

The last brown of the night before things settled down

Monday, October 3, 2016

A fall day on the big river

An early fall day on the Housatonic River
The leaves are starting to turn in CT and it won't be long before the trees will be covered with maple reds, oranges, and birch yellow.

Fall always reminds me of some memorable late afternoons fishing one of our larger rivers, the Housatonic.  I love fishing smaller water but there is something very enjoyable about fishing the Housatonic in the fall.

Most years, there is a good population of holdovers in the river but with this year's drought and high water temperatures, I wondered how many fish survived the summer. With cooler weather and overcast skies, I headed up to the river to find out.  I fished an area that doesn't see a ton of attention and probably wasn't stocked recently.  I was quite pleased to pick up a nice holdover brown on an iso comparadun after a couple of decent drifts.  However, the iso was ignored for the rest of the afternoon.

I did see a few fish working during the afternoon but nothing really rising and nymphing proved unproductive so I stuck with dries.  Later in the afternoon, there was more bug activity and I did manage another colorful brown and a handful of smallmouth bass on a larger cahill comparadun.  I didn't have a banner afternoon numbers wise but you can't put a price on a quiet and peaceful afternoon of solitude!

Some interesting markings on this brown

The largest of a handful of small mouth bass