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!

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!

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

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!

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!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New fly's and spring's first warm water action

I'm feeling the stress right now.  I'm doing ok mitigating it, but this time of year is tough.  Our son has his annual MRI, and while he's doing great as best as I can see, that one dang test is what a lot rides on.  Are we looking at surgery, treatment, uncertainty or worse... Or are we continuing to happily move forward - the test knows.

Normally he does these "sedated".  hard to make a little kid lay still for almost 2hrs to do a head to hip MRI with and without contrast.  But, that has it's own risks - anesthesia is not always the safest thing... So, we tried Boston Children's evolving "non sedated" MRI program.  They do awesome.  They send you a bunch of material pre test to help educate your kiddo on what they have to do.  Then on scan day, they practice a little, and have these cool goggles the kids can wear which lets them watch a fun movie in the scanner.  AWESOME!  He pulled it off.  Amazing.  But... Normally, we go on a Wednesday morning, and do the scan in the AM, he recovers in post anesthesia for a while (those were all sedated) and then we go have lunch, walk around the Prouty Garden at the hospital if possible and then go over the hospital bridge to Dana Farber for his appointment with his Neuro oncology doc and neurologist at the Jimmy Fund Clinic - that's when we learn if he's ok or not.  We've actually convinced his team that if they walk in the room, they are not to say hello, just say the results :)!  Ha!

This time, we do the scan, and then wait.  We will either learn the results on March 8th or some time sooner if his neurooncology doc calls.  I've called and have let her know she can call, but, this is not a new rodeo.  They have a LOT going on, and some really acute and horrible stuff... So... I suspect it's going to be March 8.  Hard to wait on that... And I think it's starting to grate on me... because Ive needed more fishing time than I really should use recently :)

Any way, one random thing, then on to some fishing fun... The last few years I've loved this ginger turmeric lemonade a local country store makes.  It's not really classic lemonade - it's got edge, and goes down clean... The first time I tried it I was unsure... but it grew on me and now I LOVE it.  So, I found a recipe and think I'm closing in on accurate prep... It looks nasty (see below), but 4 cups of water, 1 tsp OR 3-4" of grated fresh, ginger and turmeric, the juice of 1 lemon and honey to taste.  Boil the water, add in the turmeric, ginger and honey - boil 5'~, then add the lemonade when you shut the heat off.  It's sooo good!

Bubling away for 5' before I add in the lemon juice...
Took a chance and hit the little stream across the street at lunch yesterday for 20'.  Winter has changed a few pools / runs a bit, but, the water looked good.  I missed one little one, and then caught this little one... no larger fish took, hopefully a few are left after the drought of last year...

 If you like warmwater fishing, check out the Bobcat Hollow blog:  The guy does an amazing job creating simple effective flies.  He's a really skilled tier for all species, but his warm water stuff just really clicks with me.  Recently he showed some really cool flies he called Slow Rolla's.  I happened to have some synthetic Cohens Creatures curly tails I wanted to use, and his fly was just that, so I copied them the other night and figured I'd wait for warm days and go try them at my town's park pond which is just full of crappie, perch and largemouth bass...

These are super simple.  Just the tail, some nonlead wrapped up the shank, laser dub in a dubbing loop for a body - which you pick out, and a fish skull (thought a UV or Epoxy head with eyes glued in would work too.

You can see above how they look wet, when stripped, even modestly, the tail wriggles out the back.  Super fishy little flies...

After only a few minutes of casting, I had my first warm water tug of the year - a really nice sized crappie had nailed the Slow Rolla.

Maybe 10' later an a smaller one came to hand.  I had a few follows from other fish that I didnt manage to have take, but, it was a fun and stress busting walk at lunch...

Crappie are underrated... They fight solidly, love fly's and, man... look at those fins - gorgeous!

Keep well and thanks for reading.