Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Woolly Daddy

This September I had a occasion to stop into the LL Cote mega-mall-of-the-north in Errol, NH.  I was cruising the fly shop to pick up some tippet and see what bargains and/or novelties they had.  The guy behind the counter (Jason?) asked how the fishing was and when I said it was good, he asked me what they were biting on.  When I named the different successful patterns, he asked me what they looked like, because they didn't have any of them in stock.  Some of the successful flies were the woolly-daddy, rootbeer woolly bugger, red soft hackle, and the bruiser-bugger (black and blue woolly bugger.)  Until then, I had not given it much thought, but a lot of my go-to flies are not commercially available to my knowledge.
As I look over my fly box, I see a lot of hybrid, mutant patterns.  A lot of times I take elements from two or three successful patterns and combine them into a new pattern.  One of my earliest and still successful examples is my Black Ghost hair wing Clouser that has been a successful landlock salmon and brook trout flies for over 15 years. My Bruiser bugger has a blue glass bead for a head and black chenille with blue flecks, a fly that is especially effective catching rainbow trout. (I read somewhere that rainbows like the color blue and now I am a firm believer.) The Wood Specials in my fly box include the classic tie, but also some wing variations: Arctic fox fur,  white maribou and white bucktail.

One of my most successful flies went through a gradual transition.  I started with the plain old brown woolly bugger.  When I tied it with orange/black variegated chenille it became the now-famous Rootbeer Bugger.  That fly gets modified with different color bead heads: brass, tungsten, coneheads, yellow or orange glass and clouser dumbell in yellow or red.  Then I started adding rubber legs and some red squirrel tail and voila! The Woolly Daddy crawfish fly.  When I mentioned this fly last week on one of my favorite blogs Millers River Fly Fishing Forum, blogger Ken Elmer asked if I would share the pattern. Here goes. I put together a little slide show on YouTube with list of material and step by step instructions.
Let me know what you think and also share any hybrid/mutant patterns that you successfully use.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October Salmon Bonanza

If you saw my YouTube Channel you saw a couple videos of fishing for broodstock Atlantic salmon in the Pemigewasset River.  These fish are excess to the breeding program to restore Atlantic salmon to the Merrimack River watershed and get stocked in April and October.  They are not terribly difficult to catch if you know how and where to target them and have the right flies. (I guess that can be said of just about all fly fishing!) The trick is to cover enough a water with enough flies to determine where they are and what they want to eat on any given day. Some days they seem to want orange, others white, yellow, green or something else. You can't have weight incorporated into the fly or added to the leader, so plenty of mending is the order of the day, with a sink-tip line an added benefit.  I'll be headed back up in a few days to find out what color fly they want and the whereabouts of their current location. Stay tuned.

In addition to the broodstock Atlantics, I was pleased to make the acquaintance of some beautiful Maine landlocked salmon and brook trout earlier this week. (See video.) We stayed at Maynard's in Rockwood.  My fishing buddies (the BSC) have stayed here a number of times and this time we caught more larger fish than any previous trip.  (At least some of us did :-)  My buddy Jim brought his drift boat and one day we drift-fished the East Outlet and the next day we drifted the Kennebce River from The Evergreens Campground in Solon to North Anson. The Evergreens has campsites, cabins, a restaurant and offers a boat launch and shuttle service, which we took advantage of. On the East Outlet most fish were caught on streamers (Wood duck orange and Woods Special were most productive for us.)  While on the Kennebec drift, I caught most fish skating a caddis dry.  Since it was so late in the season, we didn't have to contend with a lot of other anglers, in fact, we were the only boat drifting the Kennebec in Solon. I had not fished this section of river before, and I was really impressed.  In fact, in both sections of river the fish were very healthy looking.  We didn't catch any small salmon, most were 16 to 18 inches and looked to weigh two pounds or more - a lot of fun on a 5 or 6 weight rod. In between all these salmon trips, I had a few beginner-lesson trips to the Squannacook, Nissitissit and Swift Rivers.  All have received a fall stocking, so a lot of people caught their first trout on a fly this month.
This Tuesday night we will be speaking at the Squan-a-tissit TU chapter meeting in Pepperell, MA.  The topic is "The New England Fly Box - Fly patterns and the hatches they match." No admission charge, all are welcome. Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Androscoggin Produces

I just got back from two weeks in Errol, NH guiding and fishing the Androscoggin River.  The dog days of summer are definitely behind us and the Andro has rebounded nicely.  Water temps started in the mid-60s and steadily dropped to the mid-50s - perfect!  It seems that every day the water temp dropped the foliage color increased, until both were at peak condition. This boded well for the fishing, which was much better than last September, in the aftermath of Irene. Early on there were some large orange caddis (about a 12), small black caddis (size 16) and a few Isonychia mayflies.  Later in the trip I saw some small tan/gray caddis. We caught a lot of fish on dries that imitate those insects.  The other big producers for me were woolly buggers (my woolly-crayfish and bruiser-woolly.) Some also were caught on soft-hackle droppers of the streamers and dries.  A couple days we had some free time, which I spent exploring/scouting/fishing. One day my partner Jim, his wife Barb and I spent a few hours drift fishing, which is shown in the video.  It was probably the best day of the trip.  We caught a lot of fish and had a great few hours on the water together.  Most of our time together is spent entertaining clients in the lodge or doing behind-the-scenes work, so this was a welcome diversion.  We also spent a couple hours fooling wild brook trout on a FFO pond.  I hope to get some time to put together some pictures/videos from that trip, as well as a few more foliage and client/fish pictures.