Monday, June 15, 2015

What was once a pond...

Comments from Coleman after my last blog inspired a brief bit of fishing today.  Coleman had mentioned he had been fishing down stream on the same brook I had fished the other day and it was going well.

I've not fished that area yet this year, despite it being at most 2 miles from home... Today I had to run an errand that forced me to cross the stream, so I brought the 2wt and spent probably 20-30' drifting the ABD (Allan's Brownie dry I noted in my last blog).

I wanted to waste no time, so I basically started right where an old dam was removed by TU a bit over a year ago, and slowly poked up stream.  This was a pond 18 months ago, and the soil that is home to the plants on the left of the stream, just a year ago, was flat out dangerous.  It was 18" to 4' thick pasty muck that you would sink into nicely.  With a year of plant life growing up and snow compression and dry days... it's walkable now for the most part - though you need to be cautious because some areas are still a bit soupy and the undercut banks are insane in places.

The bottom through this lower section often is sandy or pea gravel, with clumps of rock, wood, or rootball here and there.

This section in the pic varries from close to 3feet deep in a few little holes to about 10" deep.  Good looking dry fly water huh :)?


I had the ABD still on from last week's trip, so I just started with that.  Good choice, the brookies happily ate the fly through this new meadow.  It was fun!  Maybe missed or lost 4 and landed 3.  Not bad for a pit stop of a fishing "trip".

Pretty awesome to see this hard work of local conservation groups and national (TU) groups come together and create a real positive situation for the environment in this area, and for the wild fish (and other animals) who live here.

Thanks for the nudge Coleman!  I'd likely have waited and kept fishing other areas had you not mentioned it.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New fly, first fish, biggest fish...

Recently Alan, the author of the Small Stream Reflections blog, posted about a new fly he was working on that he had named the "Crowningshield".  The fly had been working well... So the other night when I sat down to tie a few flies, I thought I'd work up a few.

Alan's fly sort of reminded me of this un-named Ausable Wulff variant I tie up and like to fish on small streams... Because of that, it really motivated me to get to the vice ready to go.

I don't know about those of you reading this, but for me, tying is rarely an act of repetition.  A very brief bit of "production" tying 25-30 years ago as a kid taught me that.  I have a real hard time tying flies to pattern.  Most of the time... Well, I sat down with good intentions, but the cree hackle was at the top of the hackle bin and my hand bumbled into the SLF red squirrel nymph color and well... I was lazy and got to work.

The top fly is the main critter.  Not sure what to call it, but I may call it "Alan's Brownie" for reasons Ill get to in a minute.  That was my variant of the Crowningshield.  It's first outing proved it a keeper.

The lower fly was a yellow stone dry I like to fish on a local stream.  Basically X-Caddis with a yellow stone colored body and some hackle for a tail.  Works well on the Quinnipoxet which is a large river (by Massachusetts standards at least) and a few other streams near here this time of year.

Today I took a lunch on a local stream.  Good day to get my head right, and the flow's have looked good lately with some nice little thunder storms the last few weeks.  Well, "Alan's Brownie" (Yep, it's starting to flow... that name may just stick :)) took it's first drift in the pool at the head of this pic.  The first drift yielded nothing... the second drift, a fish literally came out of the water for the fly like the great white sharks on the discovery channel!  It was a big fish too, not the normal 4-7" wild brookies or occasional wild brown I catch here.  He pushed up to the riffle at the head of the pool, dove under the log, but did not come loose... and thus, "Alan's Brownie" had caught it's first fish, and by far the largest I have seen caught on this wild trout stream, a 13-14" wild brown.


The picture is pretty horrible, but point blank, I wanted him back in the water ASAP, and snapping a pic on my cell is not always easy with wet hands.  Thus, a sort of sloppy pic that does not do him justice... Great memories for me though!

This run often brings a fish.  It's one riffle up from where the big brown took, and nicely shaded by hemlock to the east and a variety of hardwoods to the west.  The best takes come from doing (and I only pull this off about 2 out of 5 times!) a hook cast.  You get in there and side arm a cast under that angled limb/tree in the water, and using a hook cast, you pop the end of the cast so the leader does a near 90 degree bend at the end, thus letting the fly drift along the edge (left of the pic) which is surprisingly deep.  It's actually about 2-2.5 feet deep, which is quite deep on this stream, and thus, why this run tends to hold fish.  Today it only held a LDR with what looked like a 5-6" brookie.

Hiking, hunting, fishing, biking... Multiflora rose can be tough to move through.  But dang, it smells so good!  The next pool I fished is usually awesome on this stream.  It's a spot that almost always yields a fish... But today, I did not get a rise in the main pool, but the first run out of it, I missed a rise and then did a LDR on a real small fish, maybe a 4 incher...

I moved up a short riffle, and there is a great run with a massive undercut bank to the right.  It gets some sun, but overall, the current and depth give it some cover - especially with that undercut.  this is likely darn near 2.5-3 feet deep.  I know it has fish every time I fish it, and almost always catch one.  a few LDR's and misses today, then I landed a nice 6-7" brookie (above) and another (below) that was a little smaller.  It's a really fun run to fish!

I kept working up stream.  I didnt feel like fishing the riffles for some reason today.  I just hit the big pools or runs (relatively speaking :)) and then a small section of tumble water before calling it a day.  Only about 50' on the stream, but probably 6-8 fish including the largest Ive caught on this stream and on a new dry fly to boot.  Awesome!

"Alan's Brownie" (yep, it's sticking!) looks a little tired as I got ready to head out.  The wing and hackle were pretty chewed and the dubbing a little loose... But ready to go on my next trip out!

This pic is the spot where I leave the stream to get to the truck.  I took it hoping... but it didnt work.  There are a ton, probably more than 50, 1-2" long brookies in this picture.  AWESOME to see that, and leave the stream knowing the future looks bright!

Keep living well

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Healthy Places.

 I feel very fortunate to be able to adjust and build my schedule a bit.  It's a perk of self employment!  Thursday I was feeling pretty stressed out about some work and school tasks, and decided to accept some lost time, and fish a very relaxing stream about 15' from home.

It's a cold spring fed stream.  As a result, it's very dependent on good ground water levels to have good flow.  Even just a week ago, it was a trickle... But yesterday, after 3 days of rain, it was flowing just right.

The beauty of being spring fed though, is that even when it's barely a trickle come mid August, the water is still in the low 60's at most, and never totally stops flowing.  It may be just a seep between pools, but it's there, and with it, are the dark places under big rocks or under cut banks where the brookies survive one year to the next.  Generation to generation.  Amazing what these little fish are capable of!

It makes for a really healthy place.  The forest itself which surrounds the stream's upper reaches is protected by the Massachusetts DCR.  The trees are varied and occasional logging coupled with significant elevation change creates a wide range of habitat's for the wildlife who lives here.

The forest helps protect the stream too.  Filtering the snow melt and rain fall to pristine levels before entering the stream... And creating an aromatic mix of hemlock, wildflower and moss to entertain your olfactory system.

The best part though... I've literally never seen another person fishing here.  I've seen evidence of other's who have hunted here.  A few ancient tree stands no longer in use - one even blown down into the stream as part of a log jam.  That's about it though... Just one of those spots easy to overlook - thankfully.

For that reason, I found myself there yesterday with the plan to fish my lunch "break" to clear my head.

Getting to see nice spots like this and hear the flow of water is amazingly regenerative.  It's some what funny, but in my work, we like to really explore what types of things can balance out or restore the balance of our autonomic nervous systems - which run the primary functions of life, below our level of consciousness.  One strategy to calm the flight or fight sympathetic system while increasing parasympathetic (the rest and digest system) drive is literally a relaxed walk in the woods.  There's actually legit, scientific evidence to this fact.  Those who have enjoyed time in the woods know this without the research though.  Some things, we can learn with certainty without a class room!

Spots like this, moss to bank, water alternating between rushing forward and briefly pausing to collect itself, that the little scrappers - brookies - establish themselves as an amazing example of resilience and determination.

It's also where a few decided to eat a wingless light cahill wet fly :)

One thing about this stream, is that it's lower reaches begin to turn tanic, but up here, it's amazing how clear it runs.  The water in the pic above is flowing solidly and about 18" deep.  That, is clear water!

I never remember the name of these yellow flowers, but they are always around wild trout streams and other wet areas of the forest.  Super pretty little fellows.

Poison ivy is also around wild trout streams... and given my level of allergy to this three leaved beauty of a monster ;) I am glad I tend to fish these streams wearing knee high or hip high rubber boots!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Little bit of this and that...

I have not had a chance to fish much since that epic day early in May.  I have held off on a few local wild trout streams waiting for water... we got that!  It's rained the last few days steadily and a good deal of Sunday as well.  Hopefully we now are in a pattern where we get some rain every few days.

That said, the dry conditions have trails in great shape, so I've really enjoyed some nice riding in a local state forest.  Trails like these are amazing, and like fly fishermen have a tendency to help protect land, mountain bikers are the same way.  Yes, building responsible trails is part of the sport, but without big blocks of woods, there is not much for most of us to ride.  Here in central MA, we are fortunate to have both many miles of protected land and huge numbers of trails.

It is amazing to see the stone walls that dot the landscape which once separated farmers fields.  New England is home to some amazing wild spaces!

The trail above is one that's been there at least 25 years.  It's a blast to ride with ups and downs and lots of turns.  It's great though because it's built to ride with flow.  Fun stuff.

The trail below is maybe 4 years old.  It was a combined effort of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA).  Those two groups have done amazing work within many state lands here in MA to create fantastic trail networks enjoyed by many forest fans: cyclists, runners, bird watchers, hunters, fishermen, hikers, horseback riders etc.

It's really sad to me, that one such property which has been a multi use area for decades - at least 30 years - has recently been closed.  It was closed with barely a warning shot, and a near complete lack of willingness to work together and find a resolution which works for all.

While I respect points of view that disagree, I always find myself thinking we should be very willing to allow folks to be in the woods.  It's becoming harder and harder to keep people involved in the outside world, I just don't like the idea of limiting access more than it already is.  For example, the closure I'm alluding to resulted in the loss of many students who were involved in a local high schools mountain bike club.  These kids may not have access to riding or to being active and healthy in the outdoors without the safety of a club setting... And rather than encourage that, this decision has potentially shut those kids off from the outdoors.  Frustrating.

Hopefully the situation will find a positive resolution...

On to happier things.  Rosemary worked Saturday and Sunday this weekend so I was with the munchkins all day.  Driving out to my mom's on Saturday, I was almost there when, just where a wild trout stream crosses the road, a large snapping turtle was hanging out laying eggs.  I stopped the truck, popped the kids out and we watched her for 15-20' before heading along our way.  Pretty amazing to see this kind of thing!  Considering her size, I wonder how many trout she's eaten!  Cool animal.

Yesterday's rain caused me to get pretty antsy to go fishing and the positive of self employment is this: you can adjust your hours :).  So I grabbed my gear and shot out to the Millers to enjoy a few hours chasing brown's.  It was raining hard so I was not taking pic's... but caught a few on wet flies.  Just as I was about to head home, the rain slowed so I took a few pic's of the river.  This is the "second run" just below a major pool.  It's a pretty river, and this section in particular just flow's through miles of forest.  Nice to spend a few hours there...

Best to you all!