Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Two are better than one

A little bit of spring like weather this past weekend had me thinking about fishing a small stream.  I’ve gone out a couple of times this past month but the frigid temperatures made the effort mostly futile.  What a difference to be outside covering ground with the warm sun to brighten the mood.  On warm winter days after a long cold spell the water can still be quite cold and it was.  My thermometer read a chilly 36.  I decided to hedge my bets and use dry dropper rig, two is better than one!  I’ve seen small stream brook trout take dries on days like this before but also having something small down where they could see it just made sense.  You probably don’t think of the dry/dropper rig as a winter strategy but on small streams where brook trout will occasionally look up for a bushy dry, the double rig often bring rewards 

The Ausable bomber is a great dry for a double rig having plenty of hackle to float well with a weighted nymph off the back and being easy to see, it makes a great indicator.  Thinking there might be some small black stones in the warmer air,  I tied on a small black soft hackle with a tungsten bead off the back and headed into the woods. 

The first brook trout to show itself slammed the Bomber of all things but it quickly popped off.  As I hiked up the stream it was clear that the past fall and winter had changed things a bit with new trees down in many places.  I paused at a long deep glide that I usually fish from the upstream side and realized some limbs and leaves had made a small dam at the head of the pool that would not allow me to drift flies downstream so I consider alternatives.  Keeping a low profile I tried to ease into position from the tail of the pool.  After working around a few smaller trees I managed to put the Bomber and the black soft hackle at the head of pool.  As the Bomber drifted down along the bank it paused and went down.  I lifted the light fiberglass rod and the biggest brook trout of the day started tearing up and down the 10’ x 4' pool darting from side to side all while I was trying to get my rod on the other side of a tree to bring it to the bank and avoid falling into the chilly water.  The whole scene had me laughing to myself with the rod tip going all over the lot and me trying to past the butt of the rod around a tree.  With all the fooling around, the hook eventually came free and the brook trout darted under the nearest bank for safety.

At some point in the late morning I switched to a small red brassie and stuck with it for the rest of the day, picking my way upstream exploring each little pocket of deeper slower water.  By early afternoon I had brought a handful of brook trout to hand with a few taking the bomber and many more interested in taking a swipe at it but it was the brassie that brought most of the fish to hand.

Before I needed to head home I decided to take to hike to a couple of bridges to see what I could turn up.  Mostly I just wanted enjoy a good strenuous hike in the fresh air.  I replaced the dry/dropper rig with a weighted squirmy and drifted it in the deep water below the bridges.   Below the second, the "fish the bridge" strategy paid off once again, this time with a hefty small stream wild brown.  Don't forget to fish those bridges! 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Warmer days

Children's Lake at sunset

We were visiting family in PA this past weekend and I was able to spend a few afternoon hours before sunset fishing.  Lately the days have been a welcome change from the frigid temperatures and ice earlier in the month and it was nice to be out without all the extra layers and frozen hands.

When winter offers these brief interludes, it's good to take advantage of them and I was fortunate to find some wild browns willing to take the small stuff.

Sometimes, we "out of area anglers" can have success fishing flies that the fish don't typically see.  This is especially the case in pressured waters.  But this particular afternoon, none of the out of the ordinary small nymphs I tried drew any interest.  The final switch was to a red zebra midge and a small rainbow warrior with a little split shot to get get things down. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Fish the bridge!

Alan, Kirk, and I met up for some small stream fishing today.  At mid morning the temperature was in the low teens and I don't think it got much warmer.  We did ok with ice on the line and in the guides early but when we headed up a small tributary the ice became almost unmanageable.  We were a bit surprised to see how much water the brook was holding from the heavy rains late last week and the large number of ice dams all along the brook.  Eventually we got frustrated with the iced up gear and called it a day.  Kirk had managed a small brown and a brookie and Alan had a couple bumps but I blanked.

Not wanting to get shut out for the second straight outing of 2018, I decided to try one last spot.  When it's the bottom of the ninth, with no runs and no hits, it's time to fish "the bridge".  In winter when the flows are higher and cold, bridges often provide some deep holes with softer water were fish can take refuge.  I've played this hand before on slow winter days.  After a quick thaw of the gear in the heated truck, some hot coffee, and renewed optimism, I went looking for bridge! Desperate times call for desperate measures and I am not above fishing junk flies.  It wasn't long before the squirmy connected with the first fish of 2018, a hefty rainbow especially for a small stream!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Winter storm tying

We are in the middle of a strong nor'easter that is blanketing the east coast with snow, cold, and high winds.  There won't be any fishing for a little for sure.  I saw a picture yesterday of Church Pool on the Farmington River frozen solid!  Typically this tail water remains open and Church pool is well known for it's winter caddis hatches and rising trout all winter long.  Needless to say this winter has been a record cold one.  With all this cold weather, I figured it was time to change the blog background to a winter scene!

I've been tying some small nymphs lately.  This morning I was working on some small olives.   Stay warm everyone!

Olive nymph
Hends 354 #18 nymph hook
UTC 70 DN thread
Coq de leon tail fibers
XS gold ultrawire rib
2mm gold tungsten bead
olive squirrel dubbing and UV brown ice dubbing blend

Small Pheasant Tail
Hends 354 #18 nymph hook
UTC 70 DN olive thread
Coq de leon tail fibers
2 pheasant tail fibers
XS copper ultrawire rib
2mm copper tungsten bead
olive squirrel dubbing and UV brown ice dub blend

Olive quill nymph
Hends 354 #18 nymph hook
UTC 70 DN olive thread
Coq de leon tail fibers
Olive polish quill body
Loon UV fly finish over the quill body
2mm copper tungsten bead
olive squirrel dubbing and UV brown ice dub blend

Monday, January 1, 2018

First outing of 2018

Well it's New Year's Day 2018 and Alan, Kirk, and I didn't want to let our traditional New Year's Day outing go unobserved this year.  No one had any illusions of catching fish on a day when the temperature barely reached 5 degrees and finding an open patch of water to drift a fly was challenge.

Alan, Kirk and myself on a very cold Jan 1, 2018

However, fly fisherman are to varying degrees irrational optimists and we each found ourselves at some point with our feet in frigid water thinking this little opening just might produce a fish.

Kirk working a patch of opening water
Pete's pool, did anyone remember the auger?
We headed back to the vehicles around 12:30 and with some coaxing managed to fire up the stoves to heat up some homemade soup.  While this year's outing was brief and devoid of any piscatorial entanglements, the fellowship of small stream anglers willing to brave the most insane conditions for a hot bowl of soup and a walk in the woods is all that is necessary to enjoy the first day of the new year.  Happy New Year everyone!