Monday, February 27, 2017

First fly fish of 17, public land challenges...

I really wanted to get in some water this weekend with the 60 degree temps Saturday... There is a nice walking trail near a small stream I like to fish - about 40' from home.  So... My wife and kids walked the trail - dodging ice on the way - and I fished, meeting them with about a quarter of their hike left so we could slip slide our way to the car.

The stream had a few new blow downs, but overall, was in good shape.  I was worried about it after last summer's drought, but, I'm routinely reminded how resilient these wild brook trout are!

Fun to see how green the ferns still seemed to look... and really neet to see how little ice (none) was on the stream.  I only fished a short section, but, man, it was nice.

Under that small branch going cross the stream I got my first trout of the year, and of the day...

This nice looking "peach" brookie came up and missed my mini bead head bugger (becoming a fav small stream fly for me) while the fly was on the dangle... must have been a hungry fish though, after watching the miss, I let the fly settle into the same spot and what I assume was the same fish smashed the fly.  Nice to manage getting the fish to hand for a quick pic and release.  It strongly swum into the cold waters!

I went on to have 3 more good takes, resulting in fish touching my hand moments before flipping into the water.  Brookies win 3 to 1 due to my rusty landing skills :).  Fun FUN FUN outing, and great to catch a few feisty fish despite the snow melt filling the stream with very cool water and solid flows.

I'm risking a spot burn with this sign.  The Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation, a couple years ago, decided to crack down on what they call illegal trail use by, in particular, mountain bikers.

Now, I've ridden my mountain bike in these woods since high school.  I'm almost 43.  So, since I was about 15, about 28 years, I've ridden here.  Well, 26 if you take the last two years out.  The DCR has come in and destroyed trails by having a group of college students come in and cut down full size trees to block trails over their first 100yds or so, and then try to destroy other areas of the trails.

Now, if they just wanted to crack down on "new" and unauthorized trails I would be sad of the situation but understand.  However, seeing them claim trails that have been mountain biked, alot, for 30+ years are causing problems... When the DCR's own public use documentation from other properties in MA actually lays out that the impact of mountain biking by the public has similar impact to that of hiking... It really feels there is an agenda here which is anti public use.

Dont think this sort of thing affects other users of areas?

Well, imagine you wanted to fish a stream which had a trail for access.  That trail may be destroyed now - and rendered hugely frustrating to navigate.  Likewise, imagine you wanted to walk a trail for peace and relaxation and it's no longer there - after 20-30 years.  

How about knowing you are being watched by surveillance cameras to catch mountain bikers using non authorized trails.

Unreal, and hugely frustrating.  If one wants to improve their ability to protect land - let people responsibly use it!  When land users have a legit stake in the land, they are far more likely to work to protect it and help keep it healthy and well.

I think of other state forests in MA - ironically operated under the DCR umbrella - which have worked with the New England Mountain Bike Association to build new and extensive trail systems which are fantastic, and loved by a variety of users from walkers to bird watchers to hunters and certainly, mountain bikers and even trail runners.  many of those trails include bridge segments to navigate swampy lands or streams which flow into local reservoirs and which house coldwater fisheries, thus are really excellent water quality.  If those forests can operate with healthy trail system development and use - why is this crackdown occurring on largely existing trails?  Frustrating.  Very frustrating.

If you love to be outside, and public land plays a role in that... Be aware.  Access may not be permanent...  Frustrating.

Keep well

Friday, February 24, 2017

A while back I posted about Joe Mahlers excellent fly called the "Strawboss".  Hoping to take a trip to FL in April to visit my Mother In Law, and based on the very well chewed status of my current Strawboss population I needed to do a few up.  this is the first time I've tried them with craft fur for the tail and subwing - or with rubber legs.  The first one's I did were just bucktail and thread.  I was rusty with the whole folding over of the bucktail thing, but these will catch.  Cant wait to get them into the brine in search of snook, lady fish (aka - poor man's baby tarpon) red's and whatever else swims past!

We have a little challenge - a first world problem for sure.  I'm self employed and work via a home office... We have 3 bedrooms in our house.  We also have two kids.  They have been ok in one room, but they are reaching the age where having their own spaces will be really positive for them.  So, what's an economic way for me to gain a work space?  While also helping us store the results of our book addictions?  Have floor to ceiling shelves and a desk built into a wall in the dining room.  It may be dicey when the kids are home, but for the most part they are at camp and school or outside... so this will work for a while until we figure something else out (perhaps building office space in the basement).  Last fall we got a bunch of estimates for this project via highly regarded contractors we found on Home Advisor.  If you need work done, check that site, it resulted in two awesome professionals for us between the landscape folks who did our patio last year, and this project.  I'm just letting the paint dry and will start moving books.  Very happy with how this came out!

About 3-4 years ago I moved to a sling pack for my "big water" fishing v the necklace I use for small streams.  I'd been given a 100 dollar gift card to the excellent Concord Outfitters here in MA, and used it on a nice Orvis sling pack.  It's worked well, though I always wished it was a little bigger, because, well, I always seem to need "one more" fly box (more on that issue in a coming post).  Well, within a few weeks I met a guy at a fly show who looked familiar, turned out he lived about 2.5 miles from me and was the owner of a company I'd heard of and seen in various reports online and in print called Vedavoo.  I had no idea they were "local".  We have fished a few times together since, and I have wanted to buy a bag, but having just got that Orvis one, I had a hard time justifying.  So, I just got one (I paid for it, this is not promotion for someone I know as thanks for a freebie).  Wish I had done it sooner.  simple, fit's great, and I can pack the heck out of this dang thing if I want - it's the TL Beast model.  If you want to move to a sling style bag, check them out - very well made, local to New England, customizable colors and super functional!  Looking forward to years of enjoyment with this bag - and I wont feel guilty when I see Scott (the bag's maker) on the water in coming weeks!

Note that the dangly rope is my "string" for my stream thermometer... 

The guys at posted a great Kelly Gallop video yesterday.  I'd seen it at some point in the past, and completely forgotten about it.  Watching though, I thought I should try it out.  Cool little use of some UV white ice dub on what is really a PT variant to create sort of a sheath under water.  It will be interesting to see if it fishes as well as Gallop suggests - the guy sure ties some awesome flies.

 Tim Flagler of laid down a neat video showing a really cool little "worm" varient.  could be a skinny caddis, a big chironomid or something similar to those... But, watching, it made me think of some wormish looking bugs Ive seen on the swift here in MA, so I tied up a few of them... I really like the look of the olive and the cream, but it's going to be fun to try them all...

The green is a bit chubbier because I didnt have micro size green nymph tubing, so I used small... I still like it.

These, to me, look so much like the ones I've seen on the swift.  Cant wait to try them.  I did modify from Tim's approach by using black sally hansens nail polish for the heads.

This weather is amazing - looking forward to getting on the water soon!

Have an awesome day!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Funny stuff, flies and snow

Maybe at the ripe age of 42, I'm old school.  I dont know.  But I would rather read a real, made of paper, news paper than get my news off web sites.  One bonus is the quick review of the funnies - makes me feel like a kid.  Well, the other day my local paper had the cartoon below.  Cracked me up!

The other day, Ken over on had a nice post about a fly he's been having good luck with on a local tailwater.  I liked the looks of it, and tossed out the idea of trying black nail polish rather than tying off the fly with black thread (over the olive used for the body).  Ken thought it may be a good idea and was going to try it, and my next time at the vice I did as well.  Kept the fly slim and looks good, I think it will workout well! 

Tied on a size 22 scud hook, olive 8/0, small copper wire, a smidge of krystal flash midge size and some black nail polish instead of head cement.

 New England has been getting some solid snow for the first time this winter.  After a little "half way through the storm" snow blowing last night, we got the kids down, and then I tied up a few flies.  Yes, we have Xmas lights up still - they make us happy, and, it's easier next year :) ha ha ha!

I've been working on my perch fly, and I think I'm there.  This one is the same as the one I posted the other day, but with only 1 wrap of the puglisi material.  I increased the amount of polar flash by twisting it round the extra large estaz (olive) body... I like it, but next version I may use orange polar flash instead of olive.  Overall, this one is slimmer, shows the body a little more, and should compress a bit more in the water... I think I'm onto a winner with this one.  It's got the nice scruffy look I like, but still has a lot of movement coupled with decent, but not overbearing flash... Whens' open water again? (See pic above, it's not for a WHILE!)

Have a great day and enjoy the outside!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Perch Fly 2...

Ok, here's my second experiment with the cool Puglisi stuff I got the other day.  Thought this would be solid, and it will fish, but what I thought would be ok, was just to much material.  I need to try again with only 1 wrap v 2.  It's a bit thick and I dont think the nice eztaz body underneath and the olive flash hackle ribbed over that will show through as well as I'd hoped, and less material will keep slimmer in the water.  

I think this will catch, but, I'm going to give it another evolution... 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Antlers, flies and figuring things out...

I'm typing this taking a hiatus from work while watching the Pat's Super Bowl Parade on my phone.  What a game!  If you love sport, even if you are not a Pat's fan, you had to see the amazing spectacle that was the Super Bowl as everything amazing about sports of any type!  Amazing.

We host "Super Bowl" thanksgiving on years my wife does not work (she has a rotating schedule).  The die hards who stayed to the games end, got a treat.  Lots of hugs and high fives... And one friends consistent calls of "HOGAN" (Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan) have changed everyone's Pats cheering strategies permanently - I cant see a pic of the guy without the sound of those attended saying "HOGAN" ha ha ha!

Ok, on to fun outdoor things.  Took the kids antler hunting a few weeks back and they were fortunate to find a few.  Took me about 25 years to find my first one, and here they go and get lucky within the first couple hundred yards of their first antler hunt.  As any fisherman knows, it's better to be lucky than good :) ha ha ha!

Near our antler hunting grounds, runs this stream.  it always looks like it should have wild trout in it... but i've never caught one.  Maybe they used to be here, but now, there are minnows that seem to go in and out of a beaver pond about 1/2 mile upstream from here, but that's about it.  The river it flows into, quarter mile below this pic, does have wild brookies, but a series of 5-10 foot cascades between the main river and this pic must have prevented the fish from making it up here.

Ive finally had a chance to do some tying.  I tend to be eclectic.  I rarely tie more than two of one fly in a sitting.  And I have a hard time tying flies the same way twice.  Ill do it, but only when it's certain to really work that way!  I like to tinker too.  So, last week I stopped at a local fly shop and, while there only for some non lead wire, I ended up buying some Pugliese brushes.  This stuff is spendy, and you can "make" it pretty easily with other things... but, in this case I bought it because, well, look at the color on the right in the pic below.  It screamed perch to me - great for many fresh water fish I like to chase.  So I bought some.  I think the color is actually called crustacean and my guess is that its really intended for lobster and crab patterns.

My first idea was just to do a super simple little fly based on a fly I fished a lot last summer.  So it's olive over orange craft fur for the tail, the new brush for the body and a fish mask.  Not sure I really like those yet... I still feel like sticking eyes on and then using UV resin looks better.  I need to add a little to this fly actually to make sure the eyes never come unglued... That said, that's more about me, than this fly.  I'm confident this will catch the range of warmwater fish I hope to use it for.  Not pretty, but functional, durable, and going to be fun this spring to play with.  I have some ideas in mind that I'm excited to try with this stuff that will be a little more complicated, but will be fun to tie and should really move and move water - when I get to those, Ill post em.

You can never have to many spiders... So I did a few of those up too - orange pearsals silk, hungarian partridge and a tuft of brown possum dubbing.  You can see my lack of tying practice lately though - the head is big for a spider.  Oh well, the fly will fish great, and I'm excited to swim it.

I dont remember if it was last or this year... but BrkTrt on Small Stream Reflections had a pic of a brookie he caught with a caddis dry variant... sort of an elk hair caddis but with an orange body - a very orange body.  I tied a version up and it was a great dry for me last year on my local wild trout streams.  So, after tying a few orange and partridge up, I saw the orange flat waxed that worked on that other fly, and got an idea in mind to try.  Not sure Ill tie a bunch, the other version (without heavy hackle up front - more of a elk hair caddis head) is just a simpler tie and certainly durable as heck.  This will work I'm sure, but just didnt fire me up like the other one.  That's the fun of tying though - unless you are commercial tying, you can just play, and treat each fly like an experiment.

Here's the "experiment":

Last thing is a pic I saw of a coach who I really respect, admire and basically read / attend anything I can of his - Jim Radcliffe.  Within the human performance field, Jim's work has been ground breaking for its simplicity and sound pedagogical roots.  While he's super bright and knowledgeable, he's a coaches coach - all about the atheltes first!  Ill be stealing this slide of his. because, well - it's just awesome.

So often when it comes to learning, we want to be told, then assume we know.  Or maybe we see it once and feel like we know it.  The trick though, is that we need a little challenge, a little struggle, if we are going to really learn something.  And by learn it, I'm talking about owning a concept and understanding how it relates to the broader context of things.  In other words, what's your foundation of knowledge attained via formal learning and experience - how does this new information fit and relate to the greater field of "vision" before you.

When it comes to learning, a little friction is glue.  a bit of challenge is glue.  Effort towards the process is glue.   That is where "figuring it out" comes in.

Figuring out requires some struggle and effort.  It helps you attain the contextual knowledge required to place new information into the proper cranial folders if you follow me.

Be it fly fishing, human performance, a test in school or a task at work... Figure it out!  Take on the challenge, investigate, embrace difficulties or uncertainties and use them to learn.

Embracing that spirit, the spirit of "figuring it out" can really help all areas of our lives.

So, this year, as we all flow through our life experiences, take a kids attitude to things and, well, embrace the idea of figuring things out.  Long term, it's amazing what that can do for you!

Be well