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!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


It's been really cold here lately and I've been sick so I have been doing a little tying over the holidays.  I was looking for some small but heavy nymphs that I could fish with my Euro rig in the late fall and winter when the nymphs tend to be small.  I ran across some Spanish style nymphs called perdigons.  These little "pellets" (perdigon in Spanish) are nothing more than an over sized tungsten bead, thread, and UV resin and the are quite dense for their size.  I've been fishing these a little this past fall and found them to good in situations where you want to fish a small nymph deep.   Here are some variations I've been experimenting with.

Frenchie Perdigon
Rusty brown UTC 70Dn thread
Coq de loen tail
Hends brown body quill
XS copper wire rib
Fire orange Uni thread hot spot
3.0mm Tungsten copper bead
black nail polish wing case
Hends 254 #16/18 hook

Olive Perdigon
Yellow olive UTC 70Dn thread
Coq de loen tail
Hends dark olive body quill
XS gold wire rib
Fire orange Uni thread hot spot
3.0mm Tungsten copper bead
black nail polish wingcase
Hends 254 #16/18hook

Olive Quill Perdigon
Yellow olive UTC 70Dn thread
Coq de loen tail
olive peacock quill
Fire orange Uni thread hot spot
3.0mm Tungsten black bead
Hends 254 #16/18 hook
This last one is a little experimental where I tried to use midge flash as the hot spot.  If you have any suggestions for a name you can include it in the comments.

No-name Perdigon
black UTC 70Dn thread
Coq de loen tail
XS silver wire rib
Red midge flash hot spot
2.5mm Tungsten black bead
Hends 354 #18 hook

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Greetings

A Christmas Greeting from our family to yours!  Merry Christmas and best wishes in the New Year

Thursday, December 14, 2017

One last trip to PA

A small wild brown
Tuesday was my last opportunity to fish in PA in 2017.  It’s been fun fishing the Yellow Breeches this past spring and fall. 
The Yellow Breeches isn’t a true spring creek but rather a hybrid between a classic PA limestone stream and a freestone stream.  Nevertheless it is a bit different from the New England freestone streams I’m familiar and has offered me a chance to broaden my fly fishing experience.  I’ve had a lot of help learning this stream from the local TCO shop in Boiling Springs, Brad Bashore and other PA fly fishermen I’ve met while fishing Yellow Breeches.  Fishing “the run” in Boiling Springs has certainly pushed me to become more proficient at fishing small flies.  

I fished tiny tungsten bead head nymphs (#18 and #20) under a small indicator using my 6’6” fiberglass rod with a short furled leader and about 3 feet of 5X fluorocarbon tippet.  This system seemed to work well and was a big improvement over the tight line rigs I had been messing with on my previous visits.  The first brown in the net took a small rainbow warrior in a gentle riffle with a little depth to it.  I continued to fish this run and had another take the small red zebra midge but I didn’t get a solid hook set. While fishing I struck up a conversation with a very friendly older gentlemen who was watching me.  I recognized him from my previous visits.  He had fished this area for many years and was full of information.

Encouraged by our conversation, I went up the to run that noticed him fishing on previous visits and briefly connected with a rainbow sitting in front of a rock at the tail of the riffle.  I worked up the riffle and found another rainbow.  Neither fish was holding in water that I would have thought would hold fish in December but in this spring fed section the warmer water must keep the fish a little more active than in a typical freestone in winter.

A pretty rainbow that was sitting in a faster riffle
I finished the afternoon back where I started and stuck with the double nymph rig.  I ended up using a slightly bigger rainbow warrior for the added weight to get the flies down and it seemed to pay off.  I found three little wild browns and a stocked brown that took either the larger rainbow warrior or the red zebra midge.  At this point I decided to play around with a #16 frenchie perdigon .  Many of you may not be familiar with this Spanish style nymph which uses thread and UV resin to create a small, dense fly with the ability to sink fast.  I first saw this pattern on The Flow - Fly Fishing Blog and tied a few variations for those situations where a small fly was needed but one that would sink fast and this seemed like an ideal spot to give it a try.   I was pleased to see that a wild PA brown agreed.  I suggest you check out the link if you want more info on this particular fly.  

That red adipose says "wild"

Saturday, December 9, 2017


Frost in the river grass
The days are certainly getting colder now.  As I write, we are getting our first accumulating snow in CT this season.  I love fishing the colder, gray days of late fall and early winter.  The spring and summer are full of better days for catching fish, but you can't beat the calm and solitude of an early winter day.  But in order to enjoy these days you have to dress with plenty of layers to stay warm.  I enjoy getting a large cup of coffee in the morning and putting 2/3 of it in my thermos to have for breaks when driving between spots.  I can put coffee in my little 16 oz thermos at 7am and it's still very hot at 4pm (I will have to post an equipment review on it)!  A chemical hand warmer in the wader chest pocket keeps the hands warm and with less anglers on the river, I can walk around a lot and cover lots of ground which helps keep the feet warm.

Except for a brief break throwing small flies to fish rising well beyond reach, I fished nymphs.  I didn't catch a lot of fish but the ones I did find were on the larger side.  I started late morning in an area that fishes well for me in late fall.  After working a caddis pupa and an foam egg with a small spit shot in front of the egg without any fish, I switched to a frenchie and a zebra midge and started working back upstream to where I started.  About midway up the run, the sighter stopped and I could feel the heavy but gentle throb of a nice fish holding tight to the bottom.  I stayed patient and remained downstream as the standoff took place in about a foot and a half of water.  It felt like the fish was attached to the bottom with suction cups and when I got my first decent look, I could see it was a large, dark brown. I managed to get it close but made the fatal error of trying to pull it upstream to slide the net under it.  The 5x gave way at the fly and off went a beast of a brown.  I don't honestly know how big it was but it looked like it would have been my best fish of the year.  I continued working my way back and found a decent rainbow so at least I had one in the net.  I changed the rig again and worked my way back down but didn't connect with any fish so I hiked back to the truck for some hot coffee and something to eat.

the consolation prize

I tried a few more spots in the afternoon without any success but I had one last section that I wanted to try before the end of the day.  It was a cloudy day so by late afternoon the light was fading and the air was getting colder.  I managed to cross the river without getting wet and fished an area I had explored for the first time this past summer.  I had a hunch that there might be a fish or two holding in the slower, deeper runs.  As I approached the section I could see clearly the run I had noticed this past summer and it wasn't long before I was tight to another hefty fish that took the anchor fly (frenchie).  This one was a male rainbow that was quite dark and very heavy.  I stayed patient and downstream trying to keep side pressure on the fish.  As with the brown, I was fighting this fish in shallow water that was moving a little more quickly than the softer water were I had hooked it so I needed to be careful to not to let the fish get downstream of me.  With some patience I managed to get the fish in the net.  At that point, I called it a day and made my way back across the river thankful to have spent the day outside finding a couple of quality fish.