Sunday, December 17, 2017

Visiting Santa

The boys visited Santa today and as you can see they are not too sure about the dude in the red suit with the big white beard.  I think they'll be happy they made the trip though after he brings presents to them at their house, our house, and grandma's house!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dispatch From Ed Ostapczuk

Dec. 1st – NJ wild trout stream: Our youngest grandson needed someone to pick him up after school in New Jersey this afternoon, so I volunteered. I did this partly to help family, and partly to attempt to catch a December trout. I had lots of options, for larger fish, both wild browns and rainbows, but I chose to wander a special place instead, in pursuit of little wild brook trout. This is revered soil, steep in American history, paid for dearly by men committed to the ideals of a young nation. Plus I thought I might be able to seduce a few trout on dry flies, maybe for the last time until next spring.

I wandered some trails and found my way down into a hollow. The brook was clear, cold, and very low; somehow I don’t think the Garden State received as much rain as the eastern Catskills did in late October. Fish dimpled as I setup; a few tiny midges buzzed above the brook. Still I attached a #18 Adams, one of my favorite flies for situations like this. Without much effort, I successfully put all these fish down without nicking any. Thus I slowly worked my way up the tiny flow.

Soon I came upon a favorite spot, one that has always produced for me no matter the conditions, one where I think a spring seeps into the brook. Fish dimpled; I nicked two here, then caught my first little wild brook trout, all five inches of a mighty fish.

Continuing on I moved several more fish. Wherever one dimpled, it took my Adams though I fell short of hooking them all. And in likely looking spots, if I twitched the Adams--- a la Leonard Wright, often a fish would appear out of nowhere to grab it. I probably moved about two dozen fish to the dry fly, catching 9 brook trout.

Then around 12:30 conditions changed. For one thing, an overhanging branch stole my only #18 Adams on a sloppy backcast. So I attached a #18 Dorato Hares Ear, but it wasn’t the same, no fault of the pattern I’m sure. Shade creeped throughout the hollow, and masked the brook. Air temperatures dropped, bugs disappeared, and trout stopped rising. This little flow was shutting down for the day.

I spooked a couple more trout in sunlit tailouts, even a fish that probably pushed 8” to 9” long. But I only caught two more brook trout before quitting at 1:15 PM.

Thus today I wandered and fished this hollow for 2¼ hours, catching 11 wild brook trout 4” to 6” long all on dry flies, but only two fish during the last forty-five minutes.

If one has never fished this time of year, or during winter, I feel that angler has truly missed something unique. For one I know when summer fishing at Frost Valley, some days catching trout by the dozens, I often take moments like those for granted and don’t value each individual trout as much as I should. This time of year I believe the angling window of opportunity is very narrow, often one needing to be on the water when fish are active for a limited time. When a trout stream comes alive, when bugs move and fish feed, when a trout--- no matter its size--- puts a bend in one’s rod, and then just like that, everything shuts off for the day, maybe several days, those are magically moments to be appreciated and not diminished.

As Rene Harrop wrote in Trout Hunter, “Treat each trout as an individual and with respect. A wild trout is a worthy opponent; therefore, study it carefully and take nothing for granted.”

Growing up in the Garden State I never knew this environment existed, a sad commentary on my part. For now I’m probably done fishing for December, unless I get a bad case of the piscatorial itch, or we get a very warm day and I try a Catskill stream still open in hopes of finding a few rising trout. But for now, December is in the books.

So that’s it.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Perfect Body

I've been tying a lot of Catskill dries lately, and I thought I would share what I think is the key to getting a nice even body on a quill bodied fly. It's kind of like building a house; you have to start with a solid, level foundation so that the framing can be laid evenly on it.  In fly tying, that means making uniform, purposeful wraps of thread as you tie in the butts of the wing and the tail of the fly.  Simply put, every wrap of thread should have a purpose.  

Here's a Red Quill showing the before and after of the quill being wrapped.  I've coated the quill after wrapping it with head cement, which draws out the rich, red color of the natural red hackle stem.   I don't care for dyed quill quill bodies as they are too uniform in color.  Stripping a natural red/brown saddle hackle of the hackles, wrapping it, and then coating it after wrapping it brings out what is to me the perfect male hendrickson body imitation.        

Sharpen your hooks.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Holiday Weekend Rainbows

I managed to get out on the South Branch this afternoon for a few hours and ended the weekend on a high note.   It was around 2:00 pm when I waded along the banks of the low, chilly water that was so clear one could make out every leaf moving along in the water column, and even some of the trout holding on the bottom among the rocks and stones. The skies were mostly clear with a decent breeze that made the 45 degree F air feel like it was much colder.  There wasn't another angler in site and only the faint sound of bicyclists and their chatting from the old railroad bed turned walking/cycling path that follows the river a short distance away.

I started out with a #15 ( TMC102Y) tan Iris Caddis off the end of 2 feet of 6x tippet with a small split shot about 6-8 inches above the fly.  I typically would use 5x tippet, but the water was quite low, clear and moving at a snails pace compared to what it usually is.  I moved up the left bank of the river making straight upstream presentations into seams and deeper pockets; after giving the fly a second to sink, the line is stripped back at roughly the same speed as the current.  In a very short while my line stopped, I lifted the rod, and was into a nice rainbow that jumped a couple of times before I netted it.  

After working my way up the stream a bit without another take, I switched flies to a #20 pumpkin head midge and took off the split shot.  I continued to fish upstream, covering the water from the near bank to the far bank before taking a couple of steps up and repeating the process.   I hooked and landed a few, and lost one as I brought it to net.  The fish were all rainbows that were 12-15 inches or so long.

As the sun dipped to the Southwestern horizon I came to a favorite pool that always holds a few fish and despite my hands and fingers being pretty much frozen stiff, I changed back to the Iris Caddis since the midge had stopped producing.  About a dozen casts into top of the tail out my line jumped and I set the hook on the rainbow you see in the photo above.  After releasing the fish I snipped off the fly, reeled in and took my rod apart, and made my way back down stream in the draining light to my car.

To see how the two flies mentioned above are tied click on:

Sharpen your hooks.              

Thursday, November 9, 2017

International Fly Tying Symposium - This Saturday & Sunday Nov. 11 & 12 - Lancaster, PA

This weekend, November 11 & 12, The International Fly Tying Symposium will take place in the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel, Lancaster, Penn. The move was made necessary by the closing of the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, NJ.  The 9,000-square foot ballroom is in the stately hotel on Downtown's Penn Square, 25 So. Queen St. Lancaster, PA.

The show will be open on Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and on Sunday 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and will feature seminars, tying demos, vendors, and all things related to fly tying.

The exciting part for me is that my son Hunt will be tying also - look for him among the miscreants that I am mixed in with at these events.

I'll be doing one seminar on Sunday at 2:15 PM - “Dry Flies - Tying and Matching the Hatch for Trout” This is a power point presentation I put together on the flies I use to match common Northeastern hatches and specifics on tying them, along with how to fish them.

For the official brochure, click here: 2017 International Fly Tying Symposium     

See you at the show.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

8th Annual Fly Fisherman of the Year Event - This Saturday November 11

New Jersey’s 8th Annual NJ Fly Fisherman of the Year event will be taking place this Saturday November 11 on Shannon’s Private Waters at the Raritan Inn Bed & Breakfast, Califon, NJ. As in past year's, during the day an angler from each of the NJ Trout Unlimited Chapters will fish in the event in a one-fly style format.  The fishing is then followed by a dinner, silent auction and awards presentation. A fully restored 1850’s barn will house displays and dinner. The event is sponsored by The Raritan Inn, Shannon’s Fly and Tackle and co-hosted with the NJ State Council of Trout Unlimited.  A video of last year's event is at the bottom of this page. 

Each NJ Trout Unlimited chapter is invited to select one (1) member each to participate in the event. There is no cost to enter and the day will include events such as casting demonstrations. The day’s events will be followed by a pre-registration only dinner @ $60.00, silent auction, and an awards presentation immediately following the "competition".

Arrival and sign in will begin at 7:00 AM with an orientation at 8:00 a.m. and the start of fishing scheduled for 9:00 AM to 11:45 a.m. Initial contestants will be cut to three finalists competing from 1:30 to 3:00. A cash bar will be open from 4:00 to 6:00pm followed by dinner. Dinner registration is available by stopping by Shannon's Fly Shop or on line HERE. Presentations and awards at 7:00pm will finish out the fun filled day.

The event is a lot of fun, and aside from the fishing, is open to anyone that would like to attend - TU membership is not required.  We would be attending ourselves, but we have another obligation this weekend.

Sharpen your hooks!