Thursday, November 25, 2010

The real "last best" day?

Since the last report I made a couple more trips to the Swift River; each time, figuring it was going to be the last trip of the year before winter conditions set in.  The first trip was divided fairly evenly between the below route 9/hatchery pipe run and the above route 9 catch and release area.  Plenty of fish were available in both locations, so the fishing was good everywhere, but the catching was better below route 9.  The water is a good bit faster there, so the fish have less time to study potential food from all angles and need to make the "food or not-food" decision more quickly.  The second (last?) trip was a couple days ago when the temperature peaked over 60F. That day was spent in the hatchery pipe run area.  Dick and I got there around 8AM and there were a couple guys in the "prime real estate" location, so Dick and I settled in above the fallen tree.  Dick and I both had rigged our rods the night before in the prime visibility environs of our respective man-caves.  My green copper john (18) with a red softhackle (24) dropper quickly fooled a nice rainbow, who stayed buttoned to the end of my tippet for all of 5 seconds before coming unbuttoned.  Then  it was something of a dry spell until some midges started to hatch around 9:30.  I switched to a dry set-up and after a few hundred casts, I started to have fish actual come up to inspect my  size 22 BWO dry before settling back to take the size 38 naturals.  I finally got one on a size 24 olive softhackle that I repeatedly brushed with Frog's Fanny desiccant.  After taking a walk upstream and having a bite of lunch, I was able to share the pipe run with George and Don.  My supply of sub-20 sized red softhackles began to take their toll on the heavily fished rainbows.  I got one fish on the size 20 BHPT I was using to sink the softhackle dropper, but all the rest were on the red softhackle.  Every now and then I switched to a black or olive softhackle, but tying on a red one was money in the bank.  Other flies that took a fish or two included the white diamond braid egg cluster and a pink egg.  Dick caught a few fish from the area below the crib dam down to just above the hatchery intake.  Overall, a day that will hold me until I break out the 7-wt down in Florida about a month from now.
One final comment about the fishing at the Swift.  I think I have mentioned before about how fish will quickly associate a strike indicator as something to be avoided. They will swim out of their feeding lane to avoid the pink, orange or yellow indicator after a couple of their buddies have been hooked.  Dick loaned me his tiny white Thingamabobber and not once did I see a fish swim away from it.  I need to stop by Evening Sun and pick up a couple little white indicators for next April when the Swift is the only river at a fishable level during the run-off.
Tight Lines and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yesterday I took George for a tour/fishing trip to the Swift River.  We got to the gage station parking lot by 8:00AM and there was only one person at the hatchery pipe run.  We had a brief chat. He had caught a few fish already and moved down toward the fallen tree pool.  We lost count of how many fish George fooled.  After losing a few fish on the small flies he was using, George got the hang of setting the hook and then letting the fish run a bit before bringing them in for the release. One of our objectives was to show George the various fishing areas/access points, so after an hour or so we took a walk down to Cady Lane, spotting fish and pointing out some pools and runs to fish on subsequent trips on his own.  Then after a streamside lunch at the goose-pen pool we parked near the route 9 bridge and fished the upper river in the afternoon.  There were lots of fishermen in the Y-pool, so we fished a couple spots in the bubbler run.  George fooled a couple fish and landed this nice rainbow. There were lots of big fish in the run, but with the low water, they were real difficult to approach with any kind of presentation.
The Y-pool continued to be crowded, so we hit a couple other spots on the way downstream back to route 9.  George got a nice male brooktrout at the hemlocks and then fooled a few rainbows at Stan's favorite nymphing spot.   Overall, the best flies were the soft hackles (red, black, olive.) Other successful flies were the green copper John, and pheasant tail nymph - size 20.
The water was about 53F and the air was over 60F - a really great day. Can't be too many days like this left in 2010!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day Trout on the Squannacook River

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Squannacook River in West Groton.  I ran into some good friends there and took this video of their fishing exploits. I am sure many of you will recognize their handsome faces.  Enjoy!

Today I took George (of broodstock salmon fame - see the earlier report) to the Swift River. He had a fantastic day there.  Report and pictures in process.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Next stop: Farmington River

Today Stan and I made the run down to Riverton/New Hartford, CT to fish the Farmington, one of my (many) favorite rivers in New England.  After a few days of rainy, blustery weather, the skies began to clear and it was great to be out on the water.  As the day began to warm a bit (air temp 59F and water 50F) we saw a few BWO hatching and one solitary tan caddis in mid-afternoon.  Very few rises, and so sporadic that we couldn't target any particular fish. We made the rounds of many of our usual haunts: Beaver pool, Whittemore, Church Pool, Greenwoods, Central Riffle, Boneyard and Ovation.  After all that we each had a couple strikes with missed hook-ups and we each landed a fish.  Stan got a nice rainbow pictured below and I got about a 15 inch brown.  Stan got his on a white sparkle softhackle and I got mine on a white diamond-braid egg cluster.
George called me to have me take him and a friend fishing this Friday. We haven't totally dialed it in yet, but we'll probably do a tour/lesson/fishing of the Swift River.  Tomorrow, I'll be somewhere, but haven't decided where yet.  Any suggestions or requests?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NH seacoast bonanza

Yesterday Stan and I paid a visit to the "Three Rivers" of the NH seacoast area - the Lamprey, Cocheco, and Isinglas.  The Three Rivers Stocking Association raises money to buy fish from a private hatchery and stocks the Lamprey and Cocheco rivers in October.  Waste Management Inc has large facilities that abut the Isinglas River and they stocked it last week. You won't find a lot (or any!) dry fly action, but a well-drifted nymph or egg pattern, or a skillfully stripped woolly-buggerish pattern can be deadly.  We caught fish on each river, with the Lamprey tops in both quantity and quality of fish. Of course, the next time it could be the Cocheco or Isinglas that comes out on top.  I think one key is to find a seam, slot, or depression that has not been pounded by anybody else for a few hours or a day or so.  At this time of year that often means being first into a pool or run.  In summer, it is good to get out early to take advantage of cooler water temps, but at this time of year, cool water (or air) temperature isn't an issue, but fishing pressure is. 

Another key tactic is to show them something they haven't seen before.  For the first few days after stocking, trout are "testing for food" - meaning that they will bite almost anything to see if it is good to eat.  After getting caught by olive woolly-buggers and prince nymphs, they pretty soon take those off their preferred menu.  Sometimes something as simple as going smaller or bigger, or using a weird color is enough to arouse curiosity.  Trigger colors like red or chartreuse often will bring a strike, when brown and gray flies are ignored.  Yesterday I had success with red serendipities and white diamond braid egg clusters, but tomorrow those could be forsaken in favor of yellow softhackles or chartreuse/black woolly buggers.  Get creative at the tying bench and you might get lucky on the river.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More salmon - Pictures!

By popular demand, I have added this post with pictures of the salmon featured in the previous post.  George sent me the pictures taken with his camera, which do more justice to the fine salmon he caught than my poorly executed video.  I guess after we landed the fish it was easier to focus our attention on taking good pictures, rather than being concerned about losing the big salmon.
Thanks for your patience, I hope you agree it was worth the wait.

George, thanks for sending the pictures and allowing me to post them on the blog!