Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fishing with friends?

After a line of thunderstorms worked through our area, I headed out to fish a small stream. I met a blue heron as I walked along the stream.  When I would approach the stream, it would move off and I would find it in the next area upstream.  I guess it has fished this stream before because it seemed to stop at all my usual spots! 

I suspect the fish were on alert from it's presence since it wasn't until I moved upstream ahead of it before I started finding fish.  I ended up fishing a foam ant and a mini muddler since the brook was up and a bit off-color from the recent showers.

Now that everything is growing, the small streams are getting less open.  If you want to fish these tiny waterways, you are going to have to figure out a way to get a fly into tight spaces like the one to the right.  But if you can get a fly to drift in the right channel you will often be rewarded.

The rewards

Monday, May 22, 2017

Small streams and Sunday afternoons

I love fishing a small stream on a Sunday afternoon.  I just enjoy the time to reflect after church on a Sunday morning.

I fished a few of my usual dries but they did not bringing up the brook trout I knew where there which left me a little puzzled.  I ended up putting on an ant and that changed things.  It seems a little early for ants but that what the fish were interested in this afternoon.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Making the best of a poor decision

As someone who works full time, deciding to spend a vacation day to fish involves some calculation. It can be a bit of a juggle between work calendars, necessary meetings, weather, and conditions.  We are all thankful for the rain we've been receiving this spring.  It has brought a number of small brooks back to life after a summer and fall of drought but it has presented some challenges for me in terms of timing fishing breaks.  When I have an opening afternoon on my work calendar it's been either raining or recently rained and everything is high.

Fishing under the watchful eye of Mama
Each year I like to fish a couple days of the Hendrickson hatch on the Farmington river. This year has been a bit strange.  We had a couple warm days a few weeks back that got the hatch going but cold, wet weather stalled it. I didn't get a chance to get out when it was just getting going and so with a warm day in the forecast, I decided fish yesterday afternoon. The only problem was the river was running much higher than I usually fish.  I should have known that the higher flow would make fishing most of the areas I know tough but I went anyway.  I thought a couple of spots would have water calm enough for fish to rise if a decent hatch took place but when I waded across the river at the first stop, I had serious reservations about the probably of success.  I needed a backup plan.  I stuck it out in the first spot until it was obvious that 1) the hatch was over in this area and 2) the small caddis that were all over the water would not draw any interest from fish in the heavy current.

I thought about potential small stream options and other locations but that would involve more driving so I opted to try and make the best of it under the conditions and focus on areas along the edges and inside bends where there might be some softer water out of the main current that fish could hold.  

My next stop looked like a good choice considering the river level.  As I got into the water, I noticed a pair of canadian geese in the brush along the riverbank about 10ft directly behind me.  As I watched them, I could see some young so I kept a close eye behind me.  This spot was just what I needed to get a couple fish in the net which included a couple of  survivor strain browns stocked into the river this spring and a very healthy rainbow.  The state of CT marks the fish with an elastomer that indicates when the fish was stocked.  The largest was an 18" female that was stocked this past spring.  As I got ready to move on, I must have gotten a little too close to one of the geese judging by all the hissing it was doing at me.  Encouraged by a little success I went looking for more suitable water.

A big survivor strain brown with a clipped adipose fin

Left eye/Red - a 2 year old stocked in 2017

At my third stop I found another rainbow, again on a soft inside seam. Talking to a couple other fly fisherman, I realized that trying to figure out where a spinner fall might take place with soft water where fish would rise was going to be difficult with the limited information I had so I opted to try one final spot before heading home.

At another inside bend I picked up another two very healthy rainbows that put up strong battles in the heavy current.  Heading home I realized the warm sun and wading in the heavy current had left me pretty tired but satisfied that despite a questionable decision to fish in the high water, I had still managed to bring to the net my biggest fish of the season so far.

The last rainbow of the day

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rainy days and wildflowers

The woodlands in New England are showing a lot of green
After a weekend of steady rain, the rivers across CT were pretty high.  By Sunday afternoon the skies were starting to clear and I wanted to check out a small stream I haven't visited this spring yet.  I knew the brook would high but it usual stays clear so I thought it was worth the trip.  When I arrived it was running higher than I've seen before and even a little off color which surprised me.

Fringed polygala (gaywings)

The wildflowers were doing quite well and the woodland floor was covered in violets, dwarf ginseng, a few remaining wake robins (red trilium), and fringed polygala which are always interesting to find.

I tried a big dry fly with a bead head nymph trailed off the back but it was clear the current was sweeping the dry too quickly through the seams for the nymph to be very effective so I pulled out my  Ausable Ugly.

Red trillium or Wake Robin
I fish this fly when I need to get down quick and stay there and have found it to be effective in situations like this.  I fished it like a weighted streamer through the softer seams and got quite a few bumps and taps and a decent number of brief hooks with a few fish to hand.  The heavier current probably made it difficult for the brook trout to chase down the fly and solidly take it.

As the afternoon sun began to break through the clouds and warm things up a bit, there were lots of insects hovering over the water.  Watching carefully in the tiny little slicks behind a rock or log, you could see small brook trout rising to the surface.  I even managed to coax a few to take an Ausable bomber.  Here's a link to a video I took of a small brook trout hammering the bomber that posted over on the FishingSmallStreams facebook page

spots like this had rising brook trout between the bubble lines

Violets growing in a spring seep

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Rainbows, rainbows and more rainbows

It been pretty rainy and cold over the last couple weeks.  We are all thankful to see the rivers and streams up at the normal spring levels.

I was looking forward to getting back on the Farmington River but the flows were higher than I felt comfortable fishing so I was looking for other options.  My neighbor Mike suggested a nearby river.  We met up a little before noon and Mike showed me a section of river with lots of nice looking pocket water.

The water looked well suited to tight line nymphing so I set up the long rod and we started exploring.  After getting some of the rust off my nymphing technique it wasn't long before the first rainbow was in the net.  It was good to be out in the fresh air and feel a nice bend in the rod.  After working through a nice run and landing a handful of fish, I encouraged Mike to try my set up.  It wasn't long before he was into a couple fish and liking the feel of my tight line rig.  We set up another leader for his rod and put on a couple weighted flies and between the two of us we were catching fish the rest of the afternoon.  I don't know how many fish we caught between the two of us but we had pretty steady action all afternoon.

Most of the fish were rainbows in the 14-16'' range but there were a couple of nice browns mixed in. We had a great afternoon and it was fun to show Mike an effective nymphing style.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Awake, O Wintry Earth!

The trees are starting flower and the young tender leaves are starting to appear

Wood anemone
Awake, O wintry earth
Fling off your frozen sadness,
With sweetness, flowers bring mirth,
bright springtime's ancient gladness.
Once more, we sing the tale
through darkness sunlight spread,
To warm the winter's pale, 
and tell that Death is dead

(JS Bach Canata 129)

Dwarf Ginseng

Bach's words seem to describe so well the new life that spring brings.  It seems like just a few weeks ago I was looking for the first trout lilies of the year and then all of sudden they were everywhere.  This week, my wife and I were walking and we saw the first wake robins of the year (red trillium).

After work on friday, I spent a couple hours along a small woodland stream.  The warm air had the bugs awakening from the long winter and the brook trout could be seen eagerly rising on several occasions in the tails of small pools along the stream.

A single dry fly was all that was needed to coax the local residents to the fly.  Now that the warmer weather is here the larger brook trout and taking an interest in the dry fly.  The forest floor was coming alive with wood anemone, dwarf ginseng, and fiddle head ferns and new life is beginning.

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.