Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun, in the sun.

I'm lucky that my wives family comes from very fishy places.  Minnesota has a ton of great water for, well, basically every fish you can think of in the fresh water's of north america.  Florida on the other hand, where my mother in law lives during the fall, winter, early spring is great in fresh and salt water categories.

This year the fishing was a little slow compared to past Aprils, but still a blast on the 8wt.  Ill get there in a minute.

We are still nervous to fly.  Not about terrorists or anything, just that part of our son's brain cancer's "side effects" was the need for a VP shunt.  these little things drain fluid from the brain, in a tube under the skin from the back/side of the head, down the neck, chest, abdomen before exiting in the belly.  They allow drainage of cerebral spinal fluid from the brains ventricles into the belly.  Some  people say flying is no issue, others have really yucky stories about how air pressure changes like those from flying created really challenging issues.  Given these things are considered one of the most frequently repaired implantable devices... and repair often involves MORE brain surgery... Well, you can see how we feel like 3 of those surgery's is enough by 5 years old.  So, we road trip to see family.  A positive of that - is that bringing fun stuff is easy - just add it to the back of the pilot and we are off :).

A good part of road trips is the scenery.  Especially going to FL, where you get to drive some amazing roads.  Pic below I snapped on the way down - of the blue ridge from Mt Airy into NC from VA.

I have to say... If I couldnt live in MA, I'd hope I got to live in western/central VA.  Sooooo Gorgeous!


About 30 years ago my inlaw's bought this condo.  It's awesome.  Right on Boca Ciega bay, you can fish 5 feet from the pool :). View from the balcony.   That said, I really like how the tidal currents corner baitfish by a retaining wall under that bridge, plus the lights on a bike path, at night, really hold predatory fish eager to eat the zillion little bait fish of various species drawn to the light..


This picture is pretty much for BrkTrt... He always posts food stuff in his blogs and makes me hungry.  That right there, is a Florida delicacy - fresh, local "grove" made, key lime pie... YUM!  You are not in Florida till you kill healthy eating habits with one of these bad boys :)


Another distinctly Florida thing... "Gr
oves".  If you are not familiar with them, it's basically what we in the north would think of as an apple orchard with a farm stand... But, down there, the apples are citrus fruits.  After getting a few bags of citrus to bring home, we all partook in a tradition for us, getting some of the places locally famous "half and half" soft serves, which are half vanilla and half orange (using juice from the local orchards, they say) flavored.  Dang these are good.  The lady even had Will go back and load his own cone - pretty cool!


Grammy took us to a big Easter brunch spread after church at a hotel about a mile from her place on St. Pete Beach.  Good food, but the best part was the Easter bunny.  The person in that suit was awesome with the kids!

No fear though... Despite some phone camera issues, I managed to fish a most evenings when the kids went to bed...  Just a few simple things were needed.  First time I played with a Kreelex fly much, they worked well and I look forward to playing with them for freshwater fish too.


This guy was my companion.  On the last few nights (Monday and Tuesday this past week), when no folks chucking bait for sheepshead or any other edible fish were around, he'd hop up on the bike path and follow me around all night.  Literally, 11PM and this Heron would be my companion under the bridge, hoping I'd toss him a fish... He got really excited with a little Jack Crevalle once, but otherwise... he was just a sort of funky companion, hanging out about 10-20 feet away all the time.


 I thought it was going to be great, when on night one, cast two, I caught this snook.  After that though, the snook fishing was tough, and only a few more came to hand.  All in the 18-24" range.  Not big, but a load of fun for sure.


 I caught a good number of lady fish.  They are "poor man's tarpon" in my mind.  They are a little thicker than a fat trout, not as deep - actually, the torso is not dissimilar from a pike or pickerel.. But the tails are very wide.  The mouth's are sort of a cross, if this makes any sense, between a trout and a shad.  They strike readily, pull hard, and jump like absolute crazy.  And when I say jump, I'm talking occasionally blowing 4 feet out of the water.  They are pretty awesome 20-30" (mostly) fish.


The odd one this trip were all the Jack's around.  I caught several a night, which is weird for April from what I've been told.  I've caught a few in the spring before, but mostly they have been fall fish - like August-November.  The other fishermen I spoke to said this winter had weird weather, and the fishing likewise had been very odd... Must be the reason.  But, Ill take it.  Catching Jack's in the 15-24" range is fun.  I've caught one on light spinning tackle, on my honey moon down there 17 years ago this fall, that was about 30", and nothing I've caught since has put up the fight that thing did.  It was in a big school, and I remember seeing them and thinking the eyes looked as big as silver dollars.  My wife hooked one and it just ran her drag and then popped the line (not spooled, just broke the line).  I managed to fight the one I hooked and land it, it took 10-15' though on 10lb test!  Jack's are super fast and powerful, with both tall, and thick bodies.  It's almost like a bluefish and a blue gill had a weird baby - they are tall top to bottom, and use that to prevent you from turning them, but they have the willingness to eat, the tenacity in the fight and over eager energy level of a big gator blue.  Jacks are awesome!  The net below is 24" across for reference, the one in it was probably about 18"-20" and took backing on his second run.  If a big school would have set up camp vs cruising inconsistently through, it would have been a blast.  Instead, they were caught randomly during this trip when I'd see a school, or, while swinging flies would rise in the current.  (Note, I dont normally use a net, but the sea wall under the bridge is, in places, 3 feet over the water, and often you are casting over a 4 foot high fence as well (used to prevent golf carts from going into the bay), so the long handled net is vital to landing the fish you hook if they have any size to them.


I caught a good number of fish this trip.  No idea how many, but slower than some years, better than others.  Nothing touches 2 years ago when I was catching snook at a rate of about 10-12 per night if you averaged it out... But overall, this was a lot of fun.


This is the view I often had.  I fish right there, under the bridge only sparingly.  If you want to catch sheep heads or snappers those pilings work great with little bits of shrimp or other bait under a bobber cast right up to the concrete.  With the kids we caught puffer fish, cat fish, snappers and some other cool stuff doing that last year.  This year, we didnt get them over... to many other fun things to do.

It's a really pretty bridge though - not the "Bridge Troll" holding variety I've experienced up here stripped bass fishing at night :) ha ha ha!  It was sort of odd seeing the retired couples come walking through at 11PM or so chatting.  Heck, Easter night, right at and after sun set a bride and groom were whisked down on golf carts to take wedding pic's.  You can see the Don Cesar hotel in the background of the shot above, and you get a sense of how "pretty" the bridge is.  It's not a spring brookie stream, or a fall forest in New England... but I have to admit, it's a pretty sight.

Ok, back to regularly scheduled programming here - IE  fresh water fishing, and hopefully more mountain biking adventures this year too - with some big life stuff done, I'm really hopeful to be able to get back to riding a lot more!

Keep well
Will

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fun weekend.  My wife worked, so as the kids say, it was a "Daddy Day" all weekend.  We went out to Petersham to visit my folks, and we took a nice walk.  Coming back up to the center of town, the kids, for some reason, decided to run the up hill half mile to the town common.  Why?  I dont know.  I think Em started it thinking that she could get the hill done faster... But then will followed and the race was on.  That's my parents, Mia and Grampy to the kids, in the background, the two spec's.  The kids saw the gap opening and that motivated them, to see if they could beat them to the center of town!  Ha.  Once there, they played on the snow piles a bit - it was about 60 degrees, a day after we got a solid snow fall.  Spring in New England!

The funniest part was my son's comment upon reaching the top.  He pridefully turned to me and said: "Daddy, I thought the hill would defeat us, but we kept going, and we defeated the hill!"  Love it buddy.  I totally love it!  Keep embracing challenges like opportunities kiddo!


I wanted to play with a fly that is sort of a modified Murdoch Minnow, and bigger version of those little white streamers I posted the other day.  These are DNA Hollow Fiber tails with a pearl and picked out dubbing brush under body and head.  Sandwiched in the middle is something I call flash hackle, it's got another name, but I dont recall it.  basically it's flashabou spun into a "dubbing brush" of string.  You wind it on like really big estaz/chenille.  These will work on freshwater bass, and I feel good about them when tossed to snook/ladyfish/etc...


Historically I've used this fly - but with a marabou or craft fur tail, and with a UV built head v the plastic variety.  I'd basically forgotten I had a bunch of DNA.  In the past I tied some cool fresh water streamers with the stuff - it's similarly mobile to craft fur, but holds it's shape better.  You can taper it to reduce the paint brush look, but it works the same either way.  Cool material - I rediscovered digging into the box for some other stuff.

Have a great day everyone!
Will

Friday, March 31, 2017

Some flies


Ah.  Spring is in the air.  Daffodils are coming up along the garage, snow's melting, the tom turkey that hangs out out back is gobbling some mornings/evenings... And yesterday these crocus bloomed out along the edge of the front garden.

Wait.  What was that?  We are getting 6-12" of snow, sleet and ice tonight.  Deep breath.  Dont put a value on it.  Ok, what's possible now?  Well, I guess the kids and I can go sledding this weekend - that's always fun...  Well, mindfulness in practice or not, I have to admit some disappointment at this snow. It will only last a few days, but it's more salt in the environment, sand on the roads and mud on the trails.  So, while it's good for the trout, I'd much rather get this as rain.  Not up to me though, so it's time to batten the hatches, snuggle up with the kids and Rosemary, and enjoy the storm.


My last post I noted the "ugly damsel".  I bet I've posted it here before, but I should have there.  So here is my favorite version - olive.  Red or yellow eyes seem best, though bead chain works on the smaller ones.  the key, is the long tail.  it just creates so much motion.  I'm sure the rubber legs help too, but overall, it's the wriggle of that tail that does it.


For the spring, I wanted some small white streamers.  these are for fresh or salt... probably get their first salt shot in FL later this spring.  The top one I shortened up, the others I did intentionally long - those are #8 bonefish hooks from Gamakatsu.  I actually use these for fresh water streamers too - they are freakishly sharp, and they feel a lot like a Partridge "Predator" hook if you are used to those, but smaller.

They are about 2.5-3.5" long.  Super simple.  Some .15 non lead wraps on the shank, white GSP thread, tie in a clump of white craft fur (the top one I did craft fur with an over tail of gray hollofusion), spin a dubbing loop of pearl lazer dubbing, pick it out and comb it back, finish off with a fishskull (this is a #3) and a bit of UV resin and done.  Fast, durable, and should catch piscivorous fish where ever they swim.


That cardboard is the "desk" I tie on, well, the covering.  The holes are from a day when my daughter was tying with me, and she was having more fun poking the cardboard with a bodkin than tying :) ha!

Have fun and for those of you in New England, enjoy the storm!
Will

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Well, that was fun...

I have been working a lot lately getting ready for a big seminar I was doing and great event called RaceMania.  Its a blast, but, I needed a reboot, so Rosemary told me to go fishing yesterday afternoon.  One of the good things of self employment - I can do things like that :).

About the only game in town right now is the Swift River tailwater.  It's my old stomping grounds, and I was really excited to get out.

Always enjoy this descent.  Heading into the Millers River Valley - who said MA is flat :)

Easy on me MA SPD - I realize these on road pic's are not the best... That said, this view towards my hometown, looking across Quabbin Valley, that hump you can see is the Prescott Peninsula, beyond it, Petersham MA - greatest place on earth.

Trying to keep this, my first bow of the day, wet... amazed how it blends into the river...

Now, here's the cool thing.  I caught a lot of rainbows.  One brown.  When I started out, the weather was mid-upper 30's and damp.  I picked up a few on #22 tan thread midges with olive wire rib.  I noticed the "Infamous" Y pool only had one guy and figured I would fish it.  Rarely do I, because it's normally packed with about 5-10 people... and well, there is other water with fish!

As I approach, I realize there were a few guys on the rocks on the far shore, so I made 4 folks.  But one guy was leaving, so I just slid into a spot I've literally not fished in years (not the pool, the position in it) on the north edge, kind of between the two main current's flowing into it.  Started out midging... but, in the last few years, age or impatience has caused me to not want to get much below a 24.  I just dont find it that fun dealing with the tackle needed to do that, nor the length of fight I need to put the fish through.  It's certainly it's own art, and if you love it, have at it... Just not for me at this point.  Add that to the contrarian in me, the part of me that likes to fish #6 cherynobyl ants in while others are trying to deal with #30 shuttle cocks or mole flies on this river... and well... big won out.

Despite having my 11 foot #4 nymph rod in hand, I swapped out to 5X flouro, dug out the biggest flies I had with me (first was a brown version of my "Ugly Damsel" which was on a #6 streamer hook), I got about 5 on that swinging it, and dredging bottom with it.  Every fish made me giggle - knowing the guys that had just left were talking about fishing 7-8x, and complaining that they thought their #30's were to small.  I mean c'mon - slugging meat and catching when others are "matching the midge hatch" is pretty awesome.

Oh, that's another cool thing, everyone cleared out, and I had the river to myself - that said, I was as voluntarily close to hypothermia as I could get most of the time. If you have fished the swift, you know it's rare to be alone... It's even more rare to have the Y pool to yourself.  Only one other time do I recall that, and it was a 20 degree winter day - had to look back in my old notes to find that.  So, I've fished that river 30~ years and only had 2 days where I had it to myself.  I guess a cold, pouring rain, random March Tuesday is the ticket :)!

I'd forgotten my gloves and hat and my rain coat was soaked through (as was I) which resulted in the heavy, cold rain sending an Icy chill that took a large decaf Dunkins coffee and hour car ride with the heater on blast home to start warming up again!  That's why only 1 pic.  Point blank, I could barely hold my phone and didnt want to drop it in the drink to test out whether the Samsung S7 really is water resistant to 5 feet...


This is a great book.  I've read it many times.  It's not a joke, it's literally been referenced in peer reviewed papers in many areas of study.  Yesterday reminded me of something that's repeated a lot over the years while  fishing.  Sometimes, whats "supposed" to work... is what you have to do.  But often, our bias of what we should do confirms a reality that does not have to be there.  I mean, 10 years ago, tossing a 7" streamer for trout anywhere would have been nearly insane, today, it happens some what commonly.

Believed best practice on the swift is to fish small, skinny flies most of the time, and in summer you may luck out with a sulpher hatch or BWO's or something.  late summer terrestrials come to play.  But overall, small, skinny flies are the deal.

Bullshit.  (not being crass, just trying to hit confirmation bias out of each of us).

It wont always work, but sometimes you can find success doing something very different.  Yesterday, I started with  that #6, when a big trout broke me off, I rummaged through and found a #1 cone head beast of a streamer I carry for a different local river.  This thing was thumb thick with a 4" long rabbit strip tail.  It's big, thick, ugly... and I caught a ton of trout on it.

If you are confronted with a challenge, and you feel yourself wondering what to do, dont get down.  Acknowledge that thought/feeling, get curious about it, and expand your views - looking at possibilities.  If it helps, take a beginners mind to it, by "pretending" you have no clue, like you are a kid seeing this for the first time.

Dont let YOUR history (or others view of history) ruin your ability to adapt, adjust and grow with things.

Have fun out there!
Will

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ok, I'm on the "Mop Fly" Bandwagon

I've had a bit of an odd streak.  Much of my life, if something was deemed "cool" by the masses, I naturally gravitated AWAY from that thing.  Just my personality I guess.

Well, as everyone in fly fishing has debated the mop fly, I've done a lot of watching, played a little but not gotten serious.

Today that changes... I actually bought a "mop".  That nice, slightly mottled gray color.  What really got me though, was looking at a glove down the isle.  It was the same thing, but covered in mops that are, at best, half the size of normal... Most likely they are smaller!  I like the little ones better, and look forward to the creations they allow.

Glove (small) and cloth (regular size) mop fly material.  Ok, in fairness, I'm going to trim about 50 off each, bag em, and use the cloth and glove for the intended purpose - cleaning the car.

Cut off a mop fly "body" from the car washing glove so you could see the difference in size between the two.


White pearl Farrar blend, mono thread, medium eyes secured with CA glue and over coated with UV Resin, sharpies for the color.

Also got to doing up some baitfish to look like what I think (memory, dont fail me) are called "pin fish" in Florida.  they are little bait fish that are sort of tan on top prior to fading to silver on the sides with some baring on them.  Almost look like little baby sunfish.  Looking forward to trying out this pattern (cant tell I'm looking forward to a trip south - ha ha ha).

Keep well
Will

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Gangsta Gurgler

We hope to go to FL to visit my Mother In Law later this spring.  When ever that happens I get psyched for some great fishing.  That always leads to some time looking for new FL flies... I fish salt, but I dont know what the heck I'm "really" doing.  I basically apply what knowledge I have, try to stay adaptable, and figure stuff out on the fly.  That's how I've found my best salt flies for down there for sure.  The other day I bumbled into the "Gangsta Gurgler" which sure looked a lot like my favorite "shrinp" fly in Lefty's Craft Fur Shrimp, and one of the greatest top water flies ever for warm or salt water fish - the Gartside Gurgler.  I had some little mess ups on both - which you will see quick if you know this fly... But man, what a fishy looking fly.  I had to do a few up.  Hopefully some time later this year Ill be able to post up some pic's with one of these in the corner of a snooks mouth :)!

Happy fishing!
Will



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Good news and some fun flies

On the good news front, our son's scan was clean, so that's 4 years post treatment free and clear.  Phew!  6 more before he's considered in remission, but hearing the doc's say they will see him in regular clinic 1 more time before "releasing" him to Dana Farber's "long term survivor" clinic is pretty cool.  Fingers crossed we get there healthy and well.

It got real cold here last weekend, and again this weekend.  The wind has blown too.  Not a little either... Windy like I dont remember it being kind of wind.  It's knocked over 3 sections of a fence in our yard, and, blow the roof off the chicken coop too - ugh.  Got the coop fixed but the fence may be beyond repair regrettably.  C'mon April - lets ditch the wind!

That said, I took a couple hours last saturday and went "shed" hunting.  If you are not familiar with this, it's the practice of hiking good wintering grounds for deer, and looking for the antlers which "shed" off the bucks heads every winter - generally between January and early March... Though my best "finds" have occurred in the first few weeks of January or even the week before or after Christmas.  The ones just prior to the holidays were most often found while black powder hunting... That all said, it's a fun way to get a nice walk in the forest in.  While I didnt find any antlers this trip, I found this old bucket - no idea how long it's been there.  This land has been protected for about 50 years, maybe a little more, so I dont know if it's some how lasted longer than that, or if someone had it for some reason in here in the decades since.  Neat to wonder about though...


If you try shed hunting, bring binoculars.  They make it a lot easier to see antlers on the ground even 40-50yds away.


Ive been working on some flies too.  A baby brookie variant I've been working on is below.  This is on a size 10 finesse hook, with a #3 fish mask (I'm growing to like these even more).  I've done this with an epoxy or UV resin head the last year, and this version I like better, a bit less weight at the head due to the fish mask and I think that will enhance the action of this fly.  It's a craft fur tail over a light tail of pink shrimp ice dubbing (which is slightly orange more than pink).  Then the fur and additional dubbing are blended and fed into a dubbing loop to make the body.  Trim and walla - done.  Earlier renditions have worked great on a localish tailwater with a booming wild brookie population... I think this one will be even better.


Later this spring, we will be heading to Florida to see my mother in law.  So the itch to fill my Florida box is growing.  Did up a few shrimp last night.  The bigger ones are a variant of a fly that Lefty Kreh created.  I did these as Lefty described in the version I originally learned about, but, I wanted to try the fish tails (I've been on a Flymen Fishing Company spree lately as you can tell) vs bead chain eyes.  The larger ones are all tan craft fur.  Marker colors the tail, the body is just spun in a dubbing loop and wrapped up the shank.  Super easy fly... And just ugly enough to realize Lefty's genius :).  the smaller ones I came up with at the vice last night as an experiment.  Some rubber legs and pink shrimp ice dub bodies - super simple.


These little guys are a sort of variant.  They are very similar to a fly I fish for trout and smallies a lot I call the Ugly Damsel, but these are white, bigger and intend to be fish like in the water - more Bronze Goddess ish I'd say... Good little warm water flies.


These are an experiment.  Just a baitfish... white craft fur tail, pearl ice dub body CCG dumbbell eyes and some red flashabou for a throat - I tied these thinking of my local Crappie pond, but knowing they could catch anything.


Right now it looks like cold and some snow tomorrow, REAL cold this weekend (like 20 F for a high - ouch) and then low 30's next week with some solid snow possible Tuesday.  I suspect I wont get to try these little guys out for a bit...

Have a super day!
Will