Thursday, April 20, 2017

A spring morning in PA

Greater celandine was everywhere as the early morning sun began to filter through the sycamore undergrowth that was just awakening with those early spring green buds in central PA.  We had a few hours to spare before we needed to get back in the car and start working our way to our next destination but what a beautiful few hours it was.  I choose a nice looking run and started to drift a pair of weighed nymphs through the chalky slightly off-color water.

Three caddis cases on one drift!
On almost every drift, the point fly managed to spear a few empty caddis cases.  I took the hint and switched up the flies to a slightly heavier point fly to keep the flies moving more slowly along the bottom and a caddis larva as a dropper.  The caddis larva was surprisingly ignored except for some small fall fish and some stocky cubs but when I switched to a beaded pheasant tail soft hackle the trout were more interested.  I didn't catch any wild fish this morning but a handful of rainbows and browns made for a fun couple of hours.

one of a handful of bows and browns that took a frenchie or the beaded pheasant tail

celandine was everywhere

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter everyone

Christ the Lord is risen today
Earth and heaven in chorus say.
Raise your joys and triumphs high
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply!

Love's redeeming work is done
Fought the fight, the battle won.
Death in vain forbids him rise
Christ has opened paradise! 

Lives again our glorious King
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Once he died our souls to save
Where's thy victory, boasting grave?

Soar we now where Christ has led
Following our exalted Head.
Made like him, like him we rise
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies!

Wishing all of you and your loved ones a happy Easter Sunday !

Friday, April 14, 2017

Wishing all of you a blessed Good Friday

Lord, what moved Your heart to love lowly man
Before any star could herald Your praise?
Any why did You come, abasing Yourself
Veiled in a a robe of frail human clay?
Why would You, the pure, give Your life for the vile, 
the innocent seeking the guilty to be reconciled?

I can't comprehend this fathomless love
I'm gripped and amazed at what You have done!
Why would the adored become the despised
to bear all the furious wrath that was mine?

How awesome this mystery of Your fathomless love for me!
From "This fathomless Love" by Steve and Vikki Cook

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The evening rise

It was another stressful day at work, there have been many lately and I just needed to get outside and settle myself.  It was a warm afternoon and a welcome change from the cold, damp weather we've had lately.  After a quick stop home, I was on my way to to a small stream.

The air was warm and in the light of the setting sun, you could see a lot of bugs in the air.  I love this time of day when the shadows get longer and everything has a glow about it.  As I walked along the stream bank I was reminded that life goes on pretty much as it did yesterday, in disregard of anything that is going on at work or anywhere else for that matter.  Being outdoors reminds me to look at the bigger picture of things, things to be really thankful for, things that remain unchanged, things are always true regardless of how I might feel at the moment.

It wasn't long before I saw a brook trout rise in the tail of a small pool.  I fished to the setting of the sun with one single dry fly.  Back at the car, I removed what remained of the Royal Wulff, took a deep breath of fresh air, and gave thanks for wild places so close to home.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Opening day 2017

The only thing blooming today was the skunk cabbage
For the last few years, a couple of us have met to fish a small stream on the opening day of trout season in CT.  We choose to fish far from the crowds and the white bucket brigade for CT's native char.

This morning Alan and I met and Kirk joined us shortly after.  The day started with some hot coffee and a muffin and some catching up.  The morning was a cold raw one and I think there were a few snow flakes in the air at one point.

The woods still have a late winter look to them. The buds on the trees have not started to open and the forest floor is still covered in last fall's leaf litter.  The skunk cabbage however has just started to open, signaling that the wild flowers will start appearing soon.

We've had a lot of rain lately here in southern New England which is a welcome change from the drought of last summer.  The stream we chose to fish was clear, lively and full.

I started with some smaller beaded soft hackles but I really didn't notice any interest.  I thought on a cold morning maybe something bigger and heavier would get some attention so I switched to an Ausable Ugly.  I was encouraged by a couple of taps in a run where the beaded soft hackles were untouched.

The first brook trout of the morning that took the Ausable Ugly

I ended up going to back to the few spots I had fished earlier with soft hackles and nymphs, and did much better with the heavier bushier fly.  I ended up sticking with that fly for most of the morning.

Kirk teasing a brook trout with a wet fly
Alan fishing a run at the base of a waterfall

This particular brook had been hit hard by last summer's drought so it was great to see brook trout present in decent numbers and everywhere they should be.

Around mid afternoon, I decided to switch to a big dry just to see if any fish would take it.  A pair of brook trout did take the Royal Wulff before I called it a day.  It was good to be back out fishing small streams again along with Kirk and Alan.

A couple even rose to a dry

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A little tying

Some Hendrickson soft hackles
I had a little time this afternoon to relax so I decided to tie a few soft hackles.  Lately, it's felt like winter was trying to make a come back around here, I was thinking about spring and what better way to think about the warm days ahead then to tie a few Hendrickson soft hackles.

Here's another short video on a soft hackle that provided a memorable evening this past fall.  This small soft hackle was shown to me by my friend and neighbor Mike.  We were fishing during a decent olive hatch at the end of the beautiful fall day. As the evening approached and the temperature began to fall, fish started rising with regularity. I took a few fish on small dries but each of the fish took the dry at the end of the drift when it began to sink and swing. While I was fooling around with dries, Mike was putting on a clinic with this little wet fly.  After I switched over to this small wet we both were catching fish for the rest of the evening. I don't know how many fish we caught but this little fly was definitely what this fish were looking for that night including some hefty hold-over browns as you will see at the end of the video.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The partridge and orange

I had a request by one of the regular followers here to put up a video for tying the partridge and orange.  This classic north country spider was described by T. E Pritt's Yorkshire Trout flies (1895) but was probably known long before that.  All that history means that this fly has been tied many different ways over the years with lots of opinions around the silk used, the hook and it's finish, and the length of the body relative to the hook and yet it remains a very simple and effective fly even today. Rather than being a direct imitation of a specific insect, as in the English tradition of the time, this fly sits squarely in the Scottish tradition of impressionistic flies that highlight movement by the use of the softer partridge hackle.

 I've had the most success fishing a partridge and orange when tan-bodied caddis are on the water.  I also tied the partridge and green for when the green-bodied caddis hatch in late spring. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when working with Pearsall's silk.  The silk comes in tiny spools so you will need a very small bobbin to hold the silk.  The silk also doesn't react well with head cement so you will need some bee's wax or cobbler's wax to fishing off the head.  This fly is best tied sparse in my opinion.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thanks to the Connecticut Fly Fisherman's Association

I wanted to thank all the folks at the CFFA for hosting me last night at their monthly meeting. It was a real pleasure to talk with so many about the Adirondacks, it's uniqueness and it's history of abuse and recovery.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Early dark stonefly dry fly

Hello everyone!  Here is a very simple dry fly pattern for the early dark stoneflies we are seeing around this time of year.  This fly has been very effective in the winter months on the small streams I've fished.  This a very straightforward fly to tie that uses peacock herl, gold wire and costal deer hair and that's it, nice and simple.

Just a reminder that if you are in the Hartford CT area, I will be presenting "A Fly Fisherman's guide to the Adirondacks at the Connecticut Fly Fisherman's Association's March meeting (this Wednesday).  The presentation will include some info and resources about fishing in the Adirondacks but also some of the unique history and geology of the Adirondacks with lots of pictures that you've seen here on the blog.  The meeting is open to the public so if you are in the area, I'd love to meet you and say hello!

March 8, 2017; 7-9PM
Veterans Memorial Clubhouse
100 Sunset Ridge
East Harford, CT

Monday, February 27, 2017


It's no secret that the weather here in the northeast has been warm with rain and even a few thunderstorms. All this warmth and rain can mean only one thing up in the mountains, run-off.  It is really an awesome sight to see when a large volume of water is coming down the mountains.  In summer these high gradient streams are beautiful and refreshing but in spring they can be angry and a bit terrifying.

Here are a pair of pictures of the same run, one in summer and one taken this past weekend. The angles are different so it's a bit difficult to see that they are in fact the same run.  It is amazing to me that anything can survive the spring run-off in these mountain streams.  What the second picture can't do is convey the deafening sound of the water coming down the mountains.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dries in the snow?

The new 5' 2/3 weight
Today's forecast was for the temperatures to reach almost 50F. We've been very busy on a number of fronts at home but I was hopeful I could get out for a couple hours this afternoon. When I arrived about 1PM the air was quite warm.  The stream was up nicely with a good flow of water from the melting snow and I was thankful to have gaiters on since the snow still had some depth and was soft and wet.

I figured that fishing a dry was a pretty good option on a warm afternoon.  As the small elk hair caddis made it's way down through a soft run the first brook trout of the day agreed.  There was steady interest in the small caddis with a peacock herl body as small dark stoneflies hatched throughout the warmer part of the afternoon.  When the sun started to get lower in the sky and the temperature started to drop, things pretty much shut down.  On the hike back, I did switch to a silver doctor wet fly but there was no interest in it that I could detect.

The first brook trout of February to take a small dry

Today, was the first chance I've gotten to try out my new Hidden Water series fiberglass rod from Cane and Silk. In the run below, the small 5' 2/3 did a nice job of laying the fly right in the riffle at the head of the pool.  As the caddis drifted by the snow covered rock on the right, a decent brook trout came up and took the fly off the surface.  I am looking forward to fishing this little rod more on tiny streams to see just what it can do. It was really nice to be out again and enjoy a little small stream fishing on a warm February afternoon

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Parmachene Belle

Here's another married wing wet fly known as the Parmachene Belle just in time for Valentine's Day. I tied this one as close to the one pictured in Ray Bergman's Trout, plate #7.  In the tables in the back of the book Bergman lists the materials as scarlet and white tail; black ostrich tag, yellow wool body, silver tinsel, scarlet over white hackle, and a white wing with a scarlet stripe.  This one is tied on a Mustad 3399 #10 hook. Maybe if we get a break in the weather around here, I could get out and try a few of these! 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Silver Doctor

I really love classic Bergman style wet flies so when my friend Mike told me he had been fishing a small stream using a silver doctor, I decided to try tying a few.  I've done a couple married wing wet flies before but the silver doctor that I wanted to tie was going to be the most complex wing I have constructed.  With some coaching from my other friend Ben, I managed to get some wing sections that looked ok so today I tied up some bodies and mounted the wing on half a dozen.  My plan is to actually fish these so I wanted to have a few on hand.

There are a lot of variations of the silver doctor out there so I looked at quite a few before deciding on a combination of materials that I thought preserved the look of the classic salmon fly but in a Bergman style wet fly.  For this variation I used a wing of red, yellow, blue, and guinea hen wing sections.  I used a silver tip, red tag, golden pheasant tippet for the tail and silver tinsel with a silver wire rib for the body.  For the hackle I used a section of partridge under some blue saddle hackle and of course red thread for the head. I worked on getting a couple of wing sets together, then tied some bodies and mounted the wings.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Connecticut Fly Fishermen's Association meeting

I will be presenting "A Fly Fisherman's Guide to the Adirondacks" at the March meeting of the Connecticut Fly Fishermen's Association.  I will be presenting a brief overview of the unique history and character of the Adirondacks and it's native brook trout.  I will also cover some basic information and resources for fishing the Adirondacks.  The meeting is open to the public so if you are in the area, stop by and say hello.

Wednesday March 8, 2017; 7-9 PM
Veternan's Memorial Clubhouse
100 Sunset Ridge Drive
East Hartford, CT

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It's been quiet around here lately

Hello everyone.  Sorry the blog has been quiet lately.  We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel but hopefully we will be getting things back to normal in the next couple weeks and back to the fun stuff soon!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dry fly or bust

After a great afternoon of fishing with friends on New Year's Day, it was time to turn my attention to continuing my little personal challenge of catching a trout on dry during every month of the year.  As winter has arrived here in CT, the next three months will be the most challenging.

Snow still covering the woods on this gray January day
I had the day off work, and the usual suspects were all busy with various things so I decided to head out solo to one of my favorite stretches of stream.  The day was the polar opposite of the warm, sunny New Year's day afternoon; being a more typical New England raw, gray winter day complete with couple showers of sleet, freezing rain and various other forms of frozen precipitation.  Don't ask me why, but there is just something oddly pleasant about being outside on days like this.  Maybe it's just the silence you experience because everything is seeking shelter.

I headed to a pretty little waterfall I sometimes visit.  It seemed fitting to start the day and the year at at such a place.  Waterfalls are active and alive, they sing sweet music, and they remind me that life is dynamic, moving, and yet cyclical, a process of concurrent filing and emptying as new challenges and opportunities come our way.

This day I was committed to fishing a dry fly despite the raw weather and the lack of any insect activity.  Brook trout in these small streams aren't fussy and if it looks like food they don't usually refuse.  It wasn't long before I saw the first brook trout launch itself over the fly.  I was fishing a small tan elk hair caddis and after a few fish rose to it and failed to take it I decided to switch to a darker version.  In the winter there are sometimes small dark stoneflies active, so I typically carry caddis patterns with peacock herl and pheasant tail bodies during the winter months.  The peacock herl caddis brought a few small January brook trout to hand.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Kicking off 2017

my first brook trout of 2017 came from this run
It was a pleasant sunny afternoon to kick off 2017 here in CT.  The gang met up again this year for some fishing, food, and camaraderie. I arrived around 12:30 and started heating up some chicken soup as the others made their way back to the cars. Alan brought along his wonderful homemade chili and we all enjoyed some hot lunch and then went back to fishing.

I managed to get on the board mid afternoon fishing the pinkie in a nice little run on a tributary of the main stream.  Some nice brookies were found and a couple were even taken on dries.

Welcome 2017