Friday, December 24, 2010

To-do list for 2011

I have been wrapping up stuff I have been putting off since the "busy-season" ended in October.  I cleaned out a lot of ratty-looking flies from my fly boxes.  Then I took inventory of what was left and began tying to fill in the blanks.  I tied a lot of girdle-bugs, which worked real well for me on the Androscoggin in September.  My buddies Jim and Dick spent a couple weeks in Montana in July and swore by the pattern, so I tied up a few and they worked like a charm where ever there are large stone fly nymphs.  Then I tied up a bunch of caddis dries (Alder fly pattern) and even a few hex in my favorite parachute pattern with the antron trailing shuck. Then I added a few various colored wooly buggers - a lot of rootbeer, a few olive, a few chartreuse for the early season stockers, and then a couple yellow/olive.  Right in the middle of taking inventory and tying, my guiding partner Jim and I began working on our new fly fishing presentation.  We usually do presentations about specific rivers and/or areas, such as Large rivers of NH, the Moosehead Lake area, or Rangeley Lakes, Androscoggin, SW Montana, etc. We decided to take a different approach.  We looked at a typical season in New England and picked out our "go-to"  flies - ones that we seemed to always be successful with.  Then we looked at where and when we used them and put together a presentation we call "The New England Fly Box - Fly Patterns and the Hatches they Match." We just finished it yesterday and will probably tweak a bit here and there. This brings up another point about the "To-do list" title of this post. Time to update the calendar for 2011.  Jim is going to be giving our new presentation at a few shows/events starting in a couple weeks, including the mega-fly-fishing-show in Marlboro. MA the weekend of January 14-16. Here is a link to our current schedule.  (If you have a club looking for speakers let me know.)
While you have your calendar out, take a look at your fishing plans for the year.  We are well on our way to booking our Androscoggin River All-inclusive Special Package for the last two weeks of June. If that is something you have been thinking about, better check the open dates. Also, if you start getting a bad case of the shack-nasties this winter, you can go to that page to look at some pictures and videos of previous trips with Alder fly swarms, big brook trout, etc.
Next on the "To-do list" is pack for Florida.
Flats booties - check
8-wt rod - check
saltwater reel - check
saltwater fly box - check
sun block - check
30-pound fluoro leader material - check

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

One LAST time

Well, Dick and I squeezed another day out of the fishing year. The weather was too nice to pass up.  We spent most of the morning below route 9 in the area from the USGS gage down past the hatchery pipe.  Seemed like fewer fish - George thinks they have gone up the pipe and every now and then come back down to frolic and feed and get caught.  They better enjoy their time while they can, because come 1/1/11 they will be fair game to move into the category of food.   Speaking of food, after a quick sandwich we fished above route 9 (permanent catch and release area.)  Dick has not had much success in the past in that area, but today he landed the nice rainbow pictured here.  Congrats Dick!  I hit a couple of my usual spots with only a few small brookies to show for it.  Then I worked my way downstream a couple hundred yards and picked up a few nice rainbows.  One in particular is notable, in that I was fishing a shallow run where I could see some feeding fish. My usual rig of a small BHPT with a softhackle dropper was too heavy.  So I took off the nymph and tied on a size 20 parachute BWO as an indicator fly for the size 24 softhackle dropper.  After making about 20 drifts over a nice rainbow, he suddenly sipped the dry and the fight was on.  A nice way to cap a great season.  Stay tuned for news from Florida!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fly fishing crack

The Swift River should be a controlled substance.  Couldn't resist going again yesterday and might go tomorrow. Air was almost 40F and water was 46F.   Didn't see more than a couple tiny insects and very few rises (stray pellets?) but a size 20 BHPT with a size 20 and smaller softhackle dropper did the trick.  When they got tired of the red SH I took a couple on the olive and one on a small pink egg. This is one of my small soft hackles.  It is nothing more than appropriately colored (red, black, olive, yellow, etc.) thread, thin gold wire and two wraps or less of partridge hackle. The hackle is a little longer than ideal, but on a 20 or smaller fly, it is a challenge to find and wrap a proportionate soft hackle.  The fish don't seem to mind.
For a Serendipty, I substitute elk hair tips. For a midge pupa I don't use hackle, just a couple wraps of peacock herl or ostrich herl.  A quick tie and effective.  I tie the soft hackles in slightly larger sizes (16 and 18) to use as droppers throughout the season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lake Ontario tribs - a fishing gold mine!

Most of us have read about and many New Englanders have made the drive west on I-90 to partake of the fishing in the Lake Ontario tributaries, the Salmon River around Pulaski, NY being one of the the most famous. FFNE regular Matt lives in the Rochester, NY area and sent me an email with commentary and pictures about fishing some of the smaller tribs. Here is an extract of his report. (The name of this tributary is not mentioned to avoid "spot-burning" but there are probably 20 or more rivers that fit this description.

"In years like this one, where there is enough water, the fish disburse throughout the system and will stay in the creek all winter. We will catch them again in the Spring when they drop back to the Lake. It is mostly big brown trout and fall run rainbows, which in the spring will be augmented with steelhead coming in to spawn. The season begins in late October when the Chinook run and spawn, creating an orgy of salmon eggs. The browns and rainbows come in following the salmon eating the eggs. We catch fish on small egg patterns (10-14s) usually under a strike indicator with a little weight added. It is mostly sight fishing to specific fish or pods of fish. The male browns show up first and we see them fighting for territory on gravel. The fishing is best when the females come in to spawn. Spawning is unsuccessful for the salmon and the browns, but the rainbows and steelhead that get up to the cooler headwaters do successfully reproduce. The Atlantics are quite new—seeing more of them each year for the past 4 years. The theory is that they are from Ontario, which is now stocking solely Atlantic salmon on their side of the Lake. The charter captains will never let NY stock only atlantics because their business is dependent upon trolling for big pacific salmon in the Lake in the summer—but we do stock some Atlantics as well.

Once the spawn is over-usually about Thanksgiving—we catch these fish with big streamers either dead drifted or on the swing (much more fun). No subtle takes but a lot more prospecting in deeper pools."
Matt, thanks for the reports and pictures.  You might see me out there next November!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A rut? Or tenacity?

Well, you must be as tired of reading as I am about writing about ventures to the Swift River. Sorry, but I did it again. Tuesday, once again was another of those late fall days that made for an irresistible urge to feel the tug, so off to the Swift again. This time was different in a number of ways. Although I have known him for a number of years and he is a good friend and we have a lot of common interests, I had never fished with Charlie Shadan, owner of the Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell. We decided to fish above route 9 until lunch and then below route 9 in the afternoon. There was only one car at the route 9 bridge when we arrived a little after 9AM. That was quickly remedied, as a number of people showed up as we got rigged up and started the short trek up to the Y-pool and bubbler. We noted a few fish at all the likely spots on our walk upstream. The thought was to start at the top and work down. Since I rigged up a little quicker, I had first choice, so I stepped into the bubbler arm. I stood studying the water for a few minutes, picking out a likely subject for my attention. Then one cast, one fish - must have been beginners luck. I caught 5 more fish out of that spot, before moving downstream a couple hundred yards and picking off a few more nice rainbows. Charlie had quite a few hookups too. After lunch we moved down to the hatchery pipe area and picked up a few more fish, before calling it a day. Last time it was the hatchery pipe that paid off, and this time it was the upper river. Go figure. Once again, it was the red softhackle, size 20 and smaller that was the heavy favorite. Also a few on the size 20 BHPT and olive softhackle. None on eggs this time. I need to sit down at the tying bench and whip out some more softhackles in case I get the urge for another tug before heading south to Florida after Christmas. Overall, it was a great day on the water and I really enjoyed fishing with Charlie. We swapped some fish tales and agreed to do it again ASAP. Drop by Evening Sun and get the straight scoop from Charlie.