Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Still in the rut

There have been a few isolated T-storms, but no real relief from the drought yet.  Last week I spent a day on the Ellis River and another on the Swift (MA) River.  The day in Jackson was with a hiker up from NYC who wanted to do some fly fishing before hitting the trail to an AMC hut.  As we all know, the Ellis, just like all the other rivers was running low, but had a water temp of 62F.  I showed my client the stonefly husks on the boulders and explained that we were going to skate Stimulators to see if any of the resident trout were looking up.  They were. We soon landed a couple nice rainbows and brookies. He had fly fished a couple times before, but had never skated a dry.  I taught him how to work the pocket water skating a Stimulator through all the likely looking spots.  I think he'll be trying that technique the next time he fishes the Catskills.
The other group was a father and two sons who wanted to learn the way of the skinny stick.  Since the only other cool water was 3+ hours away, I took them to the Swift River.  After going over the basics of the gear, dry land casting, knots, etc we stepped into the river for some practice with "live ammo."  I always like to start beginners in an area where they can make a backcast, safely wade and be away from the crowds.  That usually means a spot down river from route 9.  There were a few sulphurs coming off and some fish feeding on them.  We were able to capture a few flies to examine and learn how to identify it as a may fly and come up with a fly pattern to match the natural. A couple fish took a whack at their flies with no hookups.  After practicing in private all morning, we moved above route 9.  Surprisingly, we found plenty of places to fish over pods of rainbows. After a few fly changes, they each landed some nice fish on size 20 soft hackles and size 22 brassies.  We are lucky to have these cold water resources available to fish through a hot, dry summer.  Tonight I tied up some more soft hackles (even some purple ones) for my next trip to the Swift River. Still in the rut.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hot fishing in the summer heat

Yesterday I had a trip with a father and sons who I had taught to fly fish a couple summers ago.  The last time we went it was in August during a drought/heat wave, same as yesterday.  H-m-m-m, I see a pattern developing here.  Friday I spent most of the day scouting for cool water and fish.  Luckily, I found some, so yesterday turned out to be a good day.  They were staying in Whitefield, in order to be near some cool water in the White Mountain area.  The streams I checked out were running at 70F, so the Connecticut River tailwater became the destination of choice.  We caught fish in North Stratford and hit the jackpot in Columbia.  When we got there, there were locals with lawn chairs and spinning rods lined up on the gravel bar.  It was a Saturday, so a crowd was no surprise.  I told the guys we would fish for a while and if it was too crowded, we would move along to another spot.  We waded to the center of the river out of the range of the bank-sitters, who must have gotten word of a visit by the hatchery truck. My guys proceeded to sting or hook-up with many, many rainbows.  The water temp started at 63F and was at 69F when we reeled up and headed south.  Here are some pictures of the trip.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When all else fails . . .

there's always the Swift River.  Last week I took a couple new-fly-fisher-Brits to the Swift River.  It was the only river with enough water moving to fish various techniques and also offer the possibility to catch some trout.  Mission accomplished.  Last week the flow was 48CFS.  Yesterday my buddy Stan and I figured we needed to a fish-fix and not wanting to drive 4 hours to the upper CT river, we took the 1.75 hour drive to the Swift River in Belchertown/Ware, MA.  The flow was about 125CFS and their were a lot fewer fish, but we had a great time stalking and fooling some rainbows, browns and brookies.  We started in one of our favorite runs above the route 9 bridge.  It is a fast run just below the cable pool.  I hooked three fish and only brought one to hand.  Then I moved down below a couple fallen trees and saw some nice rainbows actively feeding behind a log.  I was just thinking to myself. "I think I can get a decent drift, but how an I going to land it if I hook-up?  HOOKUP!"  Well, it only took the trout about 5 seconds to race around the log branches a couple time and break me off.  No matter - it is all about fooling the fish and I don't think a size 20 soft hackle stuck in his lip will cause any problems.
We then moved up to the "bubbler arm" and proceeded to fool a mixed bag of trout.  Once again my soft-hackles worked, and other people seemed to be getting them on hoppers and beetles.  After working that area pretty thoroughly, we briskly walked past the densely angler-populated Y-pool looking for less crowded water.  We found a few fish below the route 9 bridge, but were only able to get them mildly interested in our flies.  Then we moved down to the hatchery pipe run.  Last week I found no trout there.  Yesterday we found a few.  Landed a couple (wild?) brookies and turned over a couple rainbows.  One was down near the fallen tree and I changed flies about 6 times until I finally got a take on a parachute black ant.  Gotta love those terrestrials!  I believe the brookies probably moved in from downstream looking for cooler water and the rainbows moved downstream to get away from being harassed up above.  The way the weather forecasts look, it looks like the Swift will be the only game in town, other than a trip to the CT River tailwater. (Gotta client trip there Saturday.) If you go to the Swift, bring small soft hackles (red, orange, chartreuse, black) hoppers and and tiny BHPT nymphs. Anybody have any luck out there lately?  Also, how about the Deerfield?  Any luck there?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Early Everything

Whether you call it climate change, global warming, a natural cycle, a hot spell, a heat wave, or whatever, it is clear that the weather for almost a year has been turned on its head. The warm, dry winter continued the cycle into spring.  Our trip to the Androscoggin River the last two weeks of June had it all.  When we got there on  June 15 the Alder Fly hatch was in full bloom.  Water levels were good for both drifting and wading and the fish were on to the flies.  Not as good as last year, but still very good.  (A bad day of fishing during the Alder Fly hatch is better than a good day of fishing just about any time or place the rest of the year.) This trip we had clients from Quebec, Minnesota, NY State, along with the some regulars and new clients from New England. It was fun teaching clients to fly fish, how to skate a caddis and then how to fight and land a fish.
It was great having my friend Mike, who lives near Minneapolis, and his son Paul come fish with us for three days.  Here is a video of some of the highlights of their trip.
Then the heat-wave hit - upper 80s for a couple days and the river and the local ponds were cooked.  I made the mistake of doing a little rain-dance to cool things down and the rains came, the river level went up beyond safe wading, and we were scrambling to get our clients into fish.  We spent a few days fishing the Connecticut River, both the area from Colebrook to Columbia and the area in Pittsburg.  I ran into some guys from the Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell - Hi Dean, Chris and David! We also spent a couple days fishing some of the headwater wild brook trout streams.
Matt and Andy, friends, regular clients and followers of this blog hit the tail-end of the Alder flies and the beginning of the heat wave. Here is a video of their trip.
The last week of the trip the conditions gradually improved, the water level and the temperature in the Androscoggin dropped and the Alder flies were still out.  More dry fly action with skating caddis and Stimulators right up to the end of the trip.   Here is a video of Greg landing a nice rainbow on a caddis larva.
Since getting back from Errol, I've been to the Sugar River in Newport.  Water is low and starting to warm up.  Still some fish on dries.  Then I took a couple of beginner Brits to the Swift River in central MASS.  We caught fish on sulphurs in mid-morning and on a variety of small nymphs in the afternoon. I'll probably make a couple more trips there in the next couple weeks.