Monday, June 23, 2014

Salmon on the dry...

Ok, ok... so that's a semi misleading statement - you will see why in a bit.

Last night I hit a local stream that does have a little bit of wild trout reproduction.  It flow's into a major reservoir, and that reservoir contains a lot of fish - large and small mouth bass, pickerel, lake trout, rainbow and brown trout, landlocked salmon and a host of other warm water species from white perch to crappies.  

This stream is running low and slow right now... but at times can be almost tricky to fish given the high flow rates this section can have.  it's not the total CFS, but the way it flows that can make it tricky.

My friend Scott texted to see if I'd be interested in going, and Rosemary gave the green light for a post dinner trip... that was a super wife kind of thing, because she's been working on proofing a "Purpose Statement" letter of mine as part of a grad school application... and she would have to get the two munchkins to hit the sack solo... If you have ever bathed twin 3 year olds... you know why this is hard.  If you have not... never mind... Just assume Rosemary is a saint :)

Back to the fishing.  I was late since Emily cut her toe right before I left... but the stream is only 15' from home, and our plan had been to arrive, go fish, and if one of us was late we could meet on the stream.  My lateness was augmented when I bumped into a cycling friend who was riding past where I parked.  So we chatted for a few minutes as I finished gearing up.

I settled on slowly working through a nice little flow, initially swinging a Picket Pin.  I caught a few - salmon par doing this.  It's crazy fun on this stream, especially this time of year.  Most fishermen are gone since the stocking trucks stopped rolling a month ago or more... so you get a nice stream to yourself... and it's loaded to the gils with salmon from 2-12" (occasionally a bigger one) plus a weird amalgamation of other fish.  You could literally catch a remnant stocked rainbow, a small wild brookie, a 8" largemouth that came up from the reservoir and a sun fish in the same hole on the same fly.  It's really a good time!  Just smash your barbs and have a good time.  And... know that in 3 months, adult salmon, some 2' long, start coming in and you can have some epic days - so long as you are ok with crowds... because the crowds stay home in the summer, but come out in the fall looking for those big fish.

If you look way off in the distance in the pic above, just where the water looks like it goes from fast to smooth, you can see Scott working his Tenkara rod and catching fish.  looks like a faint tan dot!

That's one of the first par of the night... After talking with Scott, he noted he was catching fish on a yellow palmer - his simple and effective "yellow sally" imitator.  Between his comments, and seeing fish coming up, I put on a new yellow sally I have been mucking with and started drifting that little dry... and catching par after par.  my only regret, was not bringing my 2wt - that would have been perfect.  The biggest were about a foot, and the smallest literally was about 2".  Scott caught a bunch including an 18" rainbow that is his largest Tenkara fish and his first pickerel (he's from Wyoming and just has never caught one).

This is the run where I did most of my catching.  I'm sure had I gone up or down, the results would be the same... but when you are catching... and seeing fish rise... it's hard to move just to move.

 This handsome little par, hopefully, will grow into a large fish that heads down to the reservoir and then comes back every fall for years providing exciting angling - catch or no catch.  You can see my little yellow sally in his mouth - bleached elk wing, cream hackle, yellow dubbing and red dubbing for a hot butt.

We finished the night walking down to the reservoir where minimuddlers fished in the film or stripped or popped caught innumerable sun fish, perch and Scott's pickerel that I mentioned above.  Now that I think of it, he had swapped out to a popper to catch that fish... 

A super fun evening for sure.  A great way to burn off some stress, and enjoy the local and great outdoors.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sulfurs on the mind...

This time of year, sulfur patterns can be killer's on the rivers around here... probably elsewhere as well.  I've found this spinner to be a killer - and oddly at all phases of the hatch.  The set up is stolen from the minds of Dave Wiltshire, Paul Proctor and Fran Betters - a fly fishing and tying brain trust that could be described as way, way over my head!

On the The orange thread is a Betters original... but fits this fly for a reason Ill note below.  The bent shank is a Proctor standard on many of his parachutes and spinners and the "tuft" of "wing" sticking back added to the wings going sideways is a Wiltshire idea.  At least those are the folks and places I learned them from.

The Millers River here has a sulfur hatch that can be prolific, and oddly, some years, the bugs are practically hunter orange in color.  By using sulfur or light cahill colored superfine dubbing on fire orange thread, when the fly's wet, it has a some what orange glow... that's muted by the pale yellow dubbing.

I use microfibets in pale yellow for the tail, and zlon in white for the wings.

Hook wise, mostly it's 16-20 wide gape dry fly hooks that I kink in the middle before mounting in the vice - giving the fly that little sideways hook.

The fly has worked well for me on the millers... really well... but it's also done surprisingly well on the swift - which could not be a more different river from the millers.  The swift being gin clear, sand or gravel bottom and a tail water... the Millers being a large freestone with large rock and tanic waters.  But, any time I have fished a small stream or medium sized stream around here, if sulfurs are around, this little bug worked.

If you try it - enjoy it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A fishfull evening and a fishless blog...

 Fathers day was great.  Took the kids fishing and watched them reel in a bunch of sun fish and one 10" bass that just about pulled Will's little rod from his hands.  Plus we caught weeds with nets and tried to find some crayfish.  A very good time for Rosemary the two munchkins and I.  They had not yet decided to tackle the pond yet in the pics... thus they are pretty dry.  About 10' later they were waist deep and going for it!

After getting home from the fishing trip, we got the kids down for a nap and worked on a stone wall we are building to retain a wildflower garden Rosemary's building.  And after dinner, I got the green light to zip out to the Millers and fish until whenever.  I texted my friend Scott to see if he could make it, but car trouble delayed his seeing the text, and when he called I was half way there... He ended up having an awesome night with a Yellow Sally hatch on a river about 5 miles from where we live and with his 10 year old son.  Sounded awesome!

I arrived about 6:30PM, and got into gear mode...

Waders and boots, check!

Bag and 4wt, check!

 Stop 1, the "first run".  This is a spot where water from a big bend/pool on the river funnels through a shoot into a wider glide.  I dont know how deep it is... but even in the lowest summers I've not seen the bottom dead center of this pic... It's a LONG ways down!  I started out swinging a sulfer emerger wet with a bead head Telico flymph variant that I like on this river... there were a few fish slurping with aggressive rises, so off wen the bead head and on with a picket pin... 2 swings, 2 misses.  Doh!  This "Pilot" is rusty...

After the second miss I headed up stream.  The last few times I have fished here it was rolling along strong at 400~ cfs.  it's best 200~... and on this saturday it was 100.  That kind of condition, makes the run above the big pool (Rezendes pool) sort of a mild riffle... So I went to it's head (about as far to the left as you can get in this pic) and started swinging my set... First time through and a fall fish.  Next time and a strong take right in front of a blown down tree.  the fish dug and pop... the picket pin's dropper knot broke and the fish was off.  
I cut off the sulfer and put the pin on as the single fly and got back to a drift, swing, dangle, 1 step down stream, repeat meditation through the "riffle".  I managed one brown in this stretch.

Here is where the fishless blog title comes from.  I have been using my cell phone for a camera.  If' I'm going to keep at this blogging thing, I need to get a waterproof cam.  I'm WAY to scared to drop my phone into the river.  So, fishing from a boat or a small stream where you are on the shore in 1 step... cool.  Photos abound... but standing 75 feet out in a river that's tough to wade... I dont trust myself and dont want to risk the phone... So, there are no fish pic's coming here regrettably. 

After fishing the riffle, I hopped on the bank and worked down past the only other guy there (a small miracle) and got back to the first run.  I got a few right off the bat swinging the picket pin... but there was one fish making aggressive splashy rises on the far side of the stream, next to a rock at the bottom of the run.  At first I was lazy and kept fishing up stream swinging... but that fish got me going... so on went a klinkhamer and to the tail of the pool I walked.  

I'm no "elite" or "expert" dry fly guy.  I enjoy drys, but admit I'm sort of a hack with them.  small streams are easy, and I love dry's there... but on a major river, the deal gets a bit tougher... I do it because it's fun, and because when I was in the 4th grade and my neighbor was teaching me to cast and telling me stories about Lee Wulff... I figured to be a "fly fisherman" you had to learn to be a mean dry fly guy.  So, I can fish dry's in a workman like way, nothing flashy... and if it gets really technical... It's sort of a wim and prayer.

Well, this fish, kept rising, but I couldnt really get much closer than about 55-60 feet, slightly quartered down stream and with the main current between he and I.  That's to much for my skill set normally.  So I tried fishing a low overhanging branch about 2/3 of the distance away, but straight across (so like 15yds down stream) and was realizing I could get a good drift for 5-10 feet - and I was seeing a few fish come up and nose the fly... so it was close.  Then one ate it and I figured if I could just get 1 good drift past that rock, I had a chance...

One double haul.  One shot.  before I could finish thinking "Wow, I landed that fly 2 feet in front of the rock", the fish rocketed clean out of the water eating the fly aggressively.  I hooked him, and fought the fish in.  He had the whole fly down in his cheek.  No "lip" hooking here as is often the case with a dry.  This fish ATE that Klinkhammer!  

He was big.  Pushing 20" based on a net measurement... almost certainly the largest fish I've caught on a dry.  Fun, fun fun!  But, no pic's... so I acknowledge... not so fun for you guys!

For a moment, I felt like a "real" fly fisherman landing such a nice fish on a long cast with tricky current - on a dry... but given the rest of the night was filled with casts better for a streamer fisherman and a few missed strikes... I guess it was just a moment of synchronicity, and a moment Ill happily carry forward.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Hex Hatch is ON!

At a work event today, stopped for a bit of lunch... and the storefront was buried in Hex's... I'm always amazed at how big these darn bugs are... Would have been a fun day to fish the cape's kettle ponds with bugs like this floating around!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Time flies...

I've been unable to get out on the water recently... or do much of anything else.  Largely due to some presentations I've been doing for work... Here's the most recent one which was done at Central Mass Physical Therapy and Wellness:

Here's the most recent presentation on how training intensity and volume relate during endurance training. 
A couple of different presentations in the next few days... and then I need to wrap up a grad school application (doing an online Masters program the next few years)...

I hope to be posting more during the next few weeks because there should be some fun adventures coming up...

Last, a random "funny" pic.  When Will was in treatment, he had 3 stem cell transplants in a row, and due to the major hit on his immune system that caused, we had to get rid of our chickens a few years ago.  Number 1, I'm proud of our coop.  It's still standing strong, served our flock well... and kept the birds safe... and Number 2, yes, that's a sliding basement window shedding light on the birds :)

The funny part, was a day the summer before Will was diagnosed.  We looked out the window, and there was a hawk just trying to figure out this cage.  The Chickens were freaking out clucking and cackling in the house... and the hawk would walk back and forth on the roof looking for way's in.  It would fly down and walk all around looking for access.  It would sit in the tree above the coop and when the birds walked out into the screened in area it would dive down hitting the screen.  It kept this up for 30' or so before quitting!  This picture though cracks me up, because he's looking down at the door's latch... and it looks like he's thinking: "How do I open that dang thing?"

I saw this today and it made me laugh... so I figured it may entertain folks that stop by here as well!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Memorial day fun and Random fishing trip...

Recently it was Memorial day.  And it was awesome to bring the kiddo's out to my folks to take part in the very small town (only about 900 people live in this, the 3rd largest town - by land area - in Ma) "parade" in honor of those who have served, and those who have lost their life in support of our country.  I remember doing this parade, walking from cemetery to cemetery to listen to Taps played - often by a lone bugle off in the forest near by.  Haunting, respectful, and a powerful memory.

The parade has changed a lot.  The majority of the "old" guard in town are gone now, either unable to attend, or no longer with us.  The younger generation are trying to take over valiantly... It's changed though.  Some kid's go to school of choice and thus their families go to their school community parade, there are fewer folks able to attend in general... In short, it's still awesome, but it struck us this year how things change.

Emily enjoyed standing on a quiet section of the common away from the action doing flips with mommy while Will had fun telling "Mia" about the moss and lichen on that beautiful big sugar maple.  We got to talk to several friends and enjoy a really good visit with my home town.  I would love to live there, though I dont know that it's really possible at this point... It will most likely be my favorite hiking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking and relaxing place through my life... Living someplace the first 26 years of  your life, exploring it non stop and spending hours with it's forests, waters and people will do that to you.  Amazing to think I've not lived there in 14 years now!

Back at home, I took a few minutes to go fish a section of the stream I discussed in my last post.  It's such a cool spot... This section is surrounded mostly by open hardwoods with some tangling honey suckle, grape or multiflora in the more open spots.  The fish greatly enjoyed a yellow minimuddler (thanks Mark at for bringing that pattern to my attention a few years ago).  I modify this fly slightly using an orange floss body... because hey, what wild fish does NOT like orange :)  It's such a simple fly the "muddler family".  Fish em dry casting up stream or up and across... and instead of casting again when they reach the end of a drag free drift, give em a tug, let them dive, and swing them through the current... Perfect simplicity for the late spring and summer small stream angler - a dry/wet/streamer in one!

This stream is open now - top to bottom.  Fish can make it the whole length of it's flow at this point thanks to the recent dam removal a few miles down stream from here... Exciting times on this little flow!