Monday, October 15, 2018

Red berries, red leaves, and orange bellies…

I hope you all are taking the opportunity to enjoy this fall.  This is my favorite time of year in New England and I am trying to take advantage of it before the business of the coming move takes over.

 The rain continues to come and the streams are as full as I’ve seen them in a long time.  I haven’t seen many of the red maples turning but I am seeing the leaves on the ground.  The last of the late summer New York asters can still be seen but a recent cold snap has left very few behind and the male brook trout are sporting brilliant orange bellies, dark throats, and kyped jaws.
Even though there is a lot of water moving through the small streams the brook trout are still eager to rise a well presented dry fly.  As the fall progresses, the fish rarely let an opportunity for food pass overhead.
I did fish a dry dropper for a little but cut the nymph off after it was pretty obvious that fish were willing to aggressively rise to a large dry like an Ausable Bomber.   Occasionally a fish would sail over the bomber signaling it’s disapproval of my offering but plenty were willing to take the Bomber without a second thought, some rising 2-3 times to the same fly even after briefly being stung by the hook.  In addition to the brook trout's beauty, their aggressiveness to take a dry and the spirited fight that these small fish display are a few of their endearing traits.

I ended up fishing upstream with the Bomber and then switching to an Adams/Wulff on the way down and catching some of the fish I missed on the first pass.   Forget the football games and get out there and enjoy the season before it’s a distant memory.

Monday, October 8, 2018

October days

The signs of fall are everywhere in the woodlands now.  The leaves are turning yellow,  the reds and oranges will soon dominate the landscape.  The lush green ferns of summer have turned golden as if to echo the changes in the canopy above.  The steady rains of late summer have continued and the streams are full and flowing in full strength, adding their voices to the symphony of color that is fall in New England.  Even the air has that distinctive smell of fall.

I was honestly surprised by how full the brook was and wondered whether a dry was going to be effective.  I did have a couple smaller fish slash at the adams/wulff variation I had used previously.  I decided a dry dropper was a better choice so switched to a larger Ausable Bomber with a lighting bug nymph as the dropper, thinking that a bright, olive-type nymph was a good choice for fall.

A lot of trees were down from the summer storms making delivering the pair of flies into various seams and undercuts a bit more challenging then usual but such is small stream fishing.  Sometimes it's all about getting into the right position to guide the flies gently downstream into the right current seam.  Sometimes this involves perching on a rock midstream and using a bow and arrow cast to flip the flies alongside the base of an overhanging tree and with a little patience mending the line you can get the flies to drift right along the base of that tree.

On this particular October day, a fish rose from under that tree and crushed the Bomber.  I saw a red flash and thought I had hooked a small rainbow but after a brief struggle I was holding one of the most gorgeous brook trout I've seen in some time.  The deep orange underside was indicative of a fine male getting ready to spawn.  The colors on this fish was stunning and I was so disappointed that during my fumbling to get my camera ready and keep the fish in the water, it managed to get back under that tree in a flash.

 I continued to fish the dry-dropper for the remaining hours of daylight until dusk began to envelope the forest.  Hiking out in the near darkness, I was thankful for the opportunity to enjoy a day afield in my favorite season of the year.  I hope each of you are able to enjoy these October days as well!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Tiny nymphs in high water?

The Breeches over it's banks and
running over an island
Central PA has been getting an awful lot of rain this summer.  My daughter’s college, on the banks of the Yellow Breeches, has been warning students to stay away from the river, and this weekend I saw why!  While there was no foaming white water like you see in the spring in the mountains, one can’t help but feel small at the site of a heavy mass of water moving along in such a way as to overrun anything in its path. Not a place to wade into if you had any sense about you.  About the only option to do a little fishing after a quick visit was to try "The run" over in Boiling Springs.

The run is typically an intimate tributary of the Yellow Breeches where water from a spring feed pond flows down a short run to join the main stem of the river.  The Cumberland Country Trout Unlimited chapter has been doing habitat improvement work there and their efforts have created a lovely stretch of water.   I had hoped that the protected nature of the run would render it more fish-able under the conditions but even here there was more water moving through than I’ve seen since I started visiting after my daughter first started college.  I had the place entirely to myself which probably tells you more about the conditions that anything else since this is a heavily fished area.  The water was as crystal clear as it typically is so I thought it was worth fishing for the couple hours before heading home.

Small victories
On spot that I typically find a good number of fish had too much water moving through for the fish to find any refuge.  I tried a couple tiny nymphs and added plenty of shot to slow things down.  I had one brief hookup before moving on to find someplace where the current was more moderate.

Most of the fish I’ve caught in the run have taken a #20 nymph or midge so it was a little odd fishing such small flies with enough small shot to keep them where they needed to be but I did manage to hook a rainbow and a feisty brown that popped off at the net.   I’ve certainly had better mornings in the run, but I was still pleased to have hooked a few fish under the circumstances.  I guess you can fish tiny nymphs in high water!